One of the fun things about cycling is the chance to be a super-fan. Sure, we’ve had some hard hits in the past, but when it comes down to it, there’s nothing like the joy and pride that comes with watching our fellow man (and woman!) do incredible things on bicycles. We ride, so we know what it’s like to suffer, and we imagine what it would be like to feel a fraction of the pain of the pro riders during the race or a tiny bit of their elation at the finish. Here are some of my favorite Tour Winners from the past. Who are some of yours?
1. Eddy Merckx, Belgium. Need I say more? Velo News calls him “the greatest and most successful cyclist of all time.” He won the Tour de France five times (1969,1970,1971,1972,1974) the World Championship three times, the Giro d’Italia five times, and the Vuelta a Espana once. He also broke the hour world record in 1972.
2. Bernard Hinault, France. Another five time Tour winner (1978.1979, 1981, 1982, 1985). Nicknamed “the Badger,” Hinault had a feisty streak. “I race to win, not to please people,” he told a reporter who suggested he might try to attract more fans.
3. Andy Schleck, Luxembourg. Andy has only won one TDF (2010, retroactively ) but I’m a fan of family racing — Andy and his brother Frank shared a podium at the Tour in 2011 and his father, Johny Schleck rode in the Tour between 1965 and 1974.
We’ll be following the races closely at The Cycling House. Who are you watching out for?
photo of Merckx from Flickr’s The Commons