Cycling has been a staple of the Olympic Games since its inception back in 1896, during the games held in Athens. Throughout its 126-year history, a staggering total of 264 gold medals have been awarded across 29 different editions of the Games. Tokyo 2020 showcased five distinct cycling categories, namely track cycling, road cycling, mountain biking, BMX racing, and BMX freestyle. In recent times, one nation has indisputably taken center stage when it comes to medal counts – Great Britain.
France, as the record holder, currently leads the pack with an impressive 41 gold medals in total. Nevertheless, the British contingent is merely three gold medals shy of eclipsing that record. In fact, in recent years, they have rapidly closed the gap. Great Britain has emerged as the most successful nation in cycling at the previous four Olympic Games, consistently amassing a dozen gold medals in 2012, 2016, and 2020. Taking everybody by surprise, they triumphed with an astonishing 14 gold medals in Beijing 2008. It’s worth noting that the top three most successful male cyclists in Olympic history hail from Great Britain, boasting an impressive combined total of 24 medals. If that wasn’t enough, the most triumphant female cyclist (who ranks fourth overall) also calls Great Britain her home. Talk about an impressive pedigree.
Sir Bradley Wiggins
Sir Bradley Wiggins made history in 2012 by becoming the first Brit to triumph in the illustrious Tour De France, a race with a legacy spanning over a century. Picking up the yellow jersey is something his compatriot Adam Yates hopes to do next year, and he’s been made the 33/1 seventh-favourite by sports betting sites to triumph in the esteemed race. But even if he wins it, he will have some way to go before he receives a knighthood by royalty, something that Wiggins already has under his belt.
The 44-year-old cycling legend has clinched a remarkable eight Olympic medals for his nation, including an impressive haul of five golds, cementing his legacy as his nation’s most successful ever Olympian. In fact, he even achieved the extraordinary feat of securing gold in four consecutive events. Undoubtedly, Wiggins shone brightest in Athens 2004, where he emerged triumphant with three separate medals at the tender age of just 24 – one of each color, for good measure.
Chris Froome miraculously snatched four Tour De France yellow jerseys in just five years, including an impressive three consecutive victories in 2015, 2016, and 2017. He became the first cyclist since the legendary Miguel Indurain to achieve a hat trick of wins in the early 90s when the Spaniard dominated the sport, picking up five consecutive victories. Of course, then came Lance Armstrong in the 90s and 2000s, but his doping-tainted vicrtories have been removed from the official counts.
What sets the Kenyan-born Brit apart is that he chose to skip the Olympics and instead focused all his energy on dominating road tours. Looking back now, we can say it was a brilliant decision. His contribution to cycling earned him an OBE in 2016, and while that isn’t quite a knighthood light compatriot Wiggins, he has definitely received recognition for his remarkable achievements.