What's Cool In Road Cycling

Remember The Titans!

As we all hail Lance, I wanted to be sure that we paid Homage to the other 5 time winners of the Tour and to put in to perspective the accomplishments of the other men that Lance currently overshadows. This is not a slight to a super champion, but a tip of the hat meant to put the spotlight on legends that have simply done far more than some realize.

I’m also doing it so that the next time you are watching the Tour you won’t make stupid comments (Like a buddy who said “yeah Hinault you French @*!~, shake the hand of the master” while sitting next to me as Lance was doing the Podium walk & shake…). I also want it to be a case where every single time you see Big Mig or Eddy or hear mention of Anquetil, you get the sheer enjoyment out of them that I do.

First off let’s recap (as if you haven’t heard it a million times) Lance’s career highlights.

Grand Tours: 5
5- Tours de France

1 each;
World Champ
National Champ
Tour Du Pont
San Sebastian
Fleche Wallone
Tour of Luxembourg
Tour De Swiss
Dauphine Libere
Midi Libre
GP Des Nations
Struggle for life itself.

Now, let’s consider the awesome, and probably unduplicable achievements of the other 5-time Tour winners who came BL (before Lance):

Miguel Indurain

Grand Tours: 7
5- Tour De France
2- Giro D Italia
Did the Double? Yep winning the Giro and Tour in 92 and 93

World Hour Record
World Champ (tt)
Olympic Gold
National Champ
Tour Del Avenir
Tour de Murcia
Catalunia (3 times)
Paris Nice (3 times)
Dauphine Lib (3-times)
Criterium International
San Sebastian
Midi Lib

So yeah Mig was big. Big Capacity and could turn a gear normally used in Cruise ship propulsion. Big Heart allowing him to stay with (and drop) folks in the hills. Big enough to hand Abraham Olano a World title in the last place (Columbia) to give enough of a monster challenge that the final group left represented the best few guys in the world at the time. A True Champion.

Next up is Jacques Anquetil

Grand Tour wins: 8

5 Tours de France
2 Giro D Italia
1 Vuelta

Did the Double? YEP. Tour and Vuelta in 63. Tour and Giro in 64.

Add a little bit of other stuff

Gp Des Nations (7 times)
Paris Nice (3 times)
Dauphine Lib (2 times)
Criterium International (2 times)
4 days of Dunkirk (2 times)
Liege-B- Liege
Tour of Catalunia

Note that he won a crap load of races that have become other races and or have gone away. The list would be three times this size had we listed them all, so we used the space just for the ones you know.

Next on the block is Bernard Hinault, the man that (at least in the USA) is the most hated of the “band of the hand” club (hold up yer hand and figure it out). His actions while with Lemond may continue to take focus away from the fact that, over a career, Lemond ranks a few runs below the Badger (in Results at least…). But when you see him on the podium every day at the tour, look at him through these glasses…

Grand Tour wins: 10

5 tours de France
3 Giro D Italia
2 Vuelta

Did the double? Oh hell yeah… couple times

With a couple other wins;

World Champ
Prestige Pernod (10 f’ing times)
Super Prestige Pernod (4 times) That’s winning the world cup while doing tours folks…
GP Des Nationa (5 times)
Dauphine Lib (3 times)
Paris Roubaix
Liege B Liege (2 times)
Fleche Wallone (2 times)
Ghent W
Criterium International (2 times)
Tour of Lombardie (2 times)
Amstel Gold
Tour of Luxembourg
Circ de la Sarth

Bernard Hinault is a monster Champion. Like him or not, he is one of the 3 best ever and (on sporting results) should make you wobble at the thought of getting a hand shake. You saw him before each tour coverage start on OLN in the yellow jersey, blood pouring down his face. Awesome sums up this man’s courage and determination. Competitor? Maybe the biggest.

And finally we have that sorry sack of bones who simply went about winning everything in sight in ways that, given the way things are going, will never be duplicated.

Eddy Merckx

Grand Tour Victories: 11

5 Tours
5 Giros
1 Vuelta

Did the double? How bout the Quadruple (Tour, Giro, World Champ, World Cup in 74) or the Triple (Tour and all the leaders jersey’s (Imagine a Green, Polkadot Yellow ceremony with one guy… That’s Sick!). How about only winning the tour and sprinters jersey (The guy did it 3 times?). But to answer the Double Question, Yeah, 4 times in; 70, 72, 73 and 74.

He also occasionally raced in other events.

World Champion (a laughable 4 times)
World Cup / Super prestige Pernod (7 Times)
Milan San Remo ( 7,SEEEEVVVVEEENN times).
World Hour Record… the ultimate time trial
Liege B Liege (6 times)… a climbers race
Paris Roubaix (3 times) … Hard men only, no clombers allowed
Ghent W (3 Times) … for sprinters
Paris Nice (3 times)
Tour of Flanders (twice)
Fleche wallone (double)
Tour of Belgium (Duece)
Het Volk (snake eyes)
Belgian champ (nice pair…)
Lombardia, GP Des Nations, Semana Catalan and a couple others you have heard of, as well as oh 450 others… The guy had 525 wins. Our modern hero’s don’t have 525 starts. Should Lance win 6 or seven TDF’s, he still has a few miles to ride to be number one, two or even three…

One of the best things about Lance is that he is the first to acknowledge the greatest in history and give credit where it is due, to Champions of old (or middle aged). Yes it is a different era, and no, it’s not for the better of the sport (if you like seeing your hero’s week in and week out winning across the globe…). Lance must do what he must do to win and that means playing, not to win but to make up numbers for most of the year. With the ability of todays riders (some would argue inability) a focus is needed. We saw it more than ever this year (or was that less than ever?) with Jan and Lance racing almost never, but coming good when it counted (if the tour is what counts). It’s a shame that we don’t get to enjoy our hero’s like we did just a few short years ago. There was a time when the boss of the peloton was always on offer and was there to win it (spring summer or fall), but those times may be gone forever.

When it comes to being a champion’s champion, the 5 guys above are the main guys that come to mind, but there are others that have won multiple grand tours and a truckload of other things all year. Toss in to the ring other guys who have won all three grand tours or other same-year double winners Like; Felice Gimondi, Fausto Coppi, Stephen Roche and Marco Pantani.

So cheer, and take nothing away from someone who has opened so many eyes to the sport, but keep your eyes open once they have swept the streets of paris clean, and look around a bit. Look forward to 2004, but by all means, look back. You will see the men who not only made the sport what it is today, but made it something more.

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