Cycling has become a very popular form of exercise, and the number of people who ride bikes has increased over the years. In fact, cycling is now the fastest-growing sport in the United States.
There are many reasons why cycling is becoming more popular. For example, it’s a great way to get fit, stay in shape, and enjoy the outdoors. According to experts, cycling can also be one of the best ways to lose weight.
While the majority of us cycle for fun, there are some who take their love of the sport to the next level, and these are the professionals who train for marathons, dominate sports betting odds, and truly take the world by storm. Wondering who the top 5 game changers in cycling are? We took a closer look.
1. Eddy Merckx
There is no way to create a list of the greatest cyclists without the inclusion of Eddy Merckx -one of only two cyclists in the world to hold the “Triple Crown”; that is, to win the World Championship, the Tour de France, and the Giro d’Italia in the same year.
Merckx’s list of achievements doesn’t end there, however; he has also won both the Giro d’Italia and the Tour de France five times each, has three world championships under his belt, and has taken the crown at the Monument races nineteen times, setting a record not only for the number of victories but for being the only rider to win each race at least twice.
There is no denying it: no hall of fame would be complete without Eddy Merckx!
2. Bernard Hinault
Next in our list comes Bernard Hinault, and he enjoys a place as a close runner-up to Merckx. With ten Grand Tour victories under his belt, he also boasts 28 victories at the Tour de France, with his figure of 28 placing him just behind Merckx.
Hinault also holds a place as one of just four cyclists to have succeeded in at least five Tour de France competitions and is still the only rider to have placed first or second in every one of these competitions that he was a participant in.
3. Fauso Coppi
As we reach back across the ages, the greatest riders of all time continue to shine, and Fauso Coppi is a must-have inclusion in our list. He emerged victorious in seven Grand Tours – including a five-year break for the Second World War – and was the first rider to take the crown at both the Giro d’Italia and the Tour de France in one day, achieving this triumph in both 1949 and 1952.
Not only did Coppi have a reputation for winning, but he had a tendency to win well – in the 1949 Tour de France, he came in first place at almost 11 minutes faster than the second-place cyclist, Gino Bartali.
4. Jacques Anquetil
Another worthy contender on our list, Jacques Anquetil holds a spot as the first racer to win the Tour de France a total of five times in his career, and the 1961 competition saw him take the yellow jersey in the initial stage of the race, and hold onto it throughout the duration of the entire race.
In addition to five Tour de France victories, Anquetil also held victories at the Giro d’Italia and the Vuelta a Espana, placing him behind Merckx and Hinault with eight Grand Tour victories altogether – and his speed at the Tour de France in 1962 was not beaten until years later in the 1981 race. Despite not being terribly popular with the French public, who typically favored his rival, Raymond Poulidor, Anquetil nonetheless earned a top spot in the cycling hall of fame.
5. Lance Armstrong
Despite the controversy, there is no list of top cyclists in history that would be complete without Lance Armstrong. A record holder, Armstrong had seven consecutive Tour de France victories to his name between 1999 and 2005, and this, along with a very public recovery from testicular cancer, earned him a place as one of the greatest cyclists in history.
In 2013, the magic was shattered when Armstrong publicly admitted to the use of drugs and doping for the majority of his decorated career, stating his regret and apologizing to fans. Despite the black stain forcing an end to his public cycling career, Armstrong is still nonetheless held up as an example of incredible achievement in the world of cycling.
Cycling is a sport that requires endurance, hard work, and plenty of determination – and there is no denying that the figures on our list have earned their place and that each has changed the course of cycling history forever in their own unique manner.