Your 10 favourite riders of all time

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BigMac said:
I could swear we have 63735723 other threads like this or implicitly similar. May be just my impression, though.
....join the fun....

Mark L
ps as i guess? your'e desperate to know...my least fave
cadel evans
lance
greg lemond
lizzie armitstead
fabian cancellara
erik zirbel
jeannie longo
thor hushovd
anne-caroline chausson
caleb ewan
 
Since 1994 when I first started watching cycling -

1. Jan Ullrich
2. Tom Boonen
3. Peter Sagan
4. Johan Museeuw
5. Andreas Klöden
6. Michele Bartoli
7. Phil Gilbert
8. Paolo Savoldelli
9. Alexandre Vinokourov
10. Richard Virenque
 
Mar 14, 2016
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jsem94 said:
Riders I've seen (since 2006):
Dumoulin
Bettini
Contador
Samuel Sanchez
Jens Voigt
Nibali
LLS
Voeckler
Vino (love his racing style, but otherwise.. no thanks)
Sagan (also love his racing, but questionable character at least early on in his career, he's getting better)
Come on, boys will be boys.
 
Jul 29, 2012
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hrotha said:
CheckMyPecs said:
Come on, boys will be boys.
That's hogwash. Boys will be douches when taught to act like douches and not called to task because society as a whole condones doυchebaggery.
Society does? I see many douchebags being celebrated. Society doesn't mean anything, 99% are sheeps anyways doing what they've being told by the media.
 
Jul 29, 2012
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I know what you meant, i went a bit off topic :p

But you're right about douches hiding they are, look at Kennaugh although he's terrible at hiding it ;)
 
Riders I've seen from 1992:
1 Marco Pantani
2 Alberto Contador
3 Miguel Indurain
4 Chris Froome
5 Vincenzo Nibali
6 Peter Sagan
7 Michele Bartoli
8 Paolo Bettini
9 Tom Boonen
10 Fabian Cancellara
 
Apr 1, 2013
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good thread to introduce myself: as you can see from the list below over the top of my best years in performing sports, living in Berne (and actually was a volunteer at the TdF à Berne a few days back), been a cycling supporter since my very youth, loyalist to riding a steel frame bike equiped with old Ultegra gears (apart from a alu framed MTB for everyday use) ....

here is my list in alphabetic order:
Fabian Cancellara
Mark Cavendish
Roger De Vlaeminck
Cadel Evans
Sean Kelly
Freddie Maertens
Franceso Moser
Peter Sagan
Jens Voigt
Joop Zoetemelk

there might be some shady characters on the list, but they were entertaining in the years I watched them (an no, I don't mean PS to be a shady character - he apologized to the girl and gave her a bouquet, so that should be settled back then) ....
 
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jsem94 said:
CheckMyPecs said:
Come on, boys will be boys.
Not a good excuse for poor behavior. If he was 10 years old maybe, but not for someone in their 20s. Just because it's common behavior doesn't make it good.
How is it common behaviour? Things happened, he was 23, let it be. Gosh, I have never heard so much about such a relatively minor incident.
 
10 riders are not enough for 150 years of cycling. Top50 is the way to go.

Inactive riders

Henri Pélissier: In France the rise of the Pélissier brothers meant the advent of the agrarian revolution in cycling. A sport that had been created by bourgeois for bourgeois suddenly saw it invaded by working-class people and this would last for almost a century whether they came from the land or small workshop. Pélissier senior was a farmer from the Auvergne who came to the Ile de France in what is known as the “Drift from the Land”. Henri would get up at 4am to milk the cows. His father hated lazy bones. Henri’s cycling would help him raise himself socially. He won all the great classics from his time and defy Henri Desgrange in his Tour of France madness and crazy ruling (the 1924 abandon). Unfortunately his life ended tragically.

Francis Pélissier: Francis Pélissier was also one of the best classic riders of his time, winning Bordeaux-Paris and an epic edition of Paris-Tours. He was ahead of his time in terms of training methods, understanding that the most important thing was not “riding lots” but “riding fast” and therefore led several obscure riders to win Bordeaux-Paris after his career and then made Anquetil a champion. Francis won an epic edition of Paris-Tours, under a storm, defeating Walloon Belgians Émile Masson jr & Louis Mottiat, while his brother Henri had to retire though in the lead group, telling his brother: “A Pélissier has to win today”. The remaining trio were flashed by a photographer and it became the greatest cycling picture in history. Together with his brother, Francis rebelled hard against Desgrange.

Louison Bobet : Bobet was a Breton baker’s boy who could endure pain like no other. Example of this might be the 1957 which he finished under heavy snow storm, he was liquefied. He has a complete palmares with all the main classics and Worlds but the Ardennes one besides his three Tours of France. He was a very worried guy and also much interested in the new training methods brought to cycling by his friend Coppi (though their relation had ups & downs if you look at Paris-Roubaix 1955) : which he made public in books such as “Tomorrow We Ride” or “En selle” that he co-wrote with his brother Jean and former soigneur, Raymond Le Bert.

Raymond Poulidor : Myths have to be busted about this champion. You cannot be an “eternal second” when you win Milan-Sanremo, the Walloon Arrow, two Paris-Nice, the GP des Nations, the Tour of Spain, the GP di Lugano, etc. All in all 75 official races. Actually even on the Tour of France, Poulidor ended more often 3rd than 2nd. Poulidor is a farm boy of the Limousin, his parents worked a pretty poor land at first and they did not even have horses as draft animals but cows, they needed a lot of arms. He could have started his career at age 20 in 1956 when he as an amateur rider could defy Geminiani and Bobet in Les Monediaires. Unfortunately he had to serve military duties which during the Algerian War was 2.5 years. 21 years after that in May 1977, Poulidor beat Lucien Van Impe and Luis Ocaña in the ITT stage of the Trophée des Cîmes, at age 41 !!! His greatest win? Probably his first Paris-Nice in 1972 ahead of Merckx, climbing the 9.5km of the Col d’Eze in 20’04”, a time that would still rank him in the top10 in a similar stage today while current riders are riding much lighter bikes and have better suits and while he was 36. That’s why Poulidor is a rider for the ages. Finally, Poulidor was very close to the world of cinema, was a good friend of dialogue writer Michel Audiard and novelist Antoine Blondin, the so-called “right-wing anarchists” who made such great dialogues in those days like “A Monkey in Winter” (Blondin : novel; Audiard: script), best film dialogues ever!

Charly Mottet : Like everybody I do believe that Charly Mottet was a very healthy guy with a lot of dignity. He won great classics though realizes that his greatest win was the GP des Nations because an ITT is a in which you cannot cheat. Then Mottet finished twice Paris-Roubaix, the second time was in his last season in 1994. After that he talked with JF Pescheux. Pescheux reported this quote from Mottet: “This race is not like any other races but if you don’t finish Paris-Roubaix, you are not a cycling rider”. This is amazing given the fact Mottet was no specialist at all.

Marc Madiot: Madiot was a Paris-Roubaix specialist. His 1985 win was epic. It’s the race that motivated him as a rider and as a DS, Pescheux would say in winter he’s already focused on Paris-Roubaix. He always nice words when he talked about the Queen of the Classics: “Paris-Roubaix will stay with us till the cemetery”, he told Duclos-Lassalle; “Paris-Roubaix is do or die” (“marche ou crève”); “Some races need riders to exist. For races like the Tour of France or Paris-Roubaix it’s the other way round. We, riders, need such races to exist. The race is self-sufficient. It does not need big names at the start. […] It’s the very race that makes the riders. The winner is of necessity a good rider. Even if he was not necessarily expected at the finish. He’s of necessity a good rider if only because he wanted it”; “Generally speaking, crashes are rather spectacular, which makes them say ahlala it’s dangerous, etc. Yes okay, it’s dangerous, you slip. So what? I’ve also ended Paris-Roubaix at the hospital. It does not stop me from saying that it’s a race we should accept the way it is”; “On the cobbles, it’s going at daggers drawn [c’est au couteau que ça se passe]. It’s more of a ‘nice’ pitch battle. The cobbles are trenches. You do it with the knife”, “The very quintessence of the cycling race is there. Between the contact with the spectators and this power relationship you have between riders. It becomes a man-to-man fight. It gives the race all its interest and charm.” He’s also always been fascinated by Belgian cycling. He would often send his riders North because that’s where you learn how to race. He includes cyclocross in the training sessions he gives to his FdJeux riders. He can be criticized as a DS but I always appreciate his frankness and his disgust for modern cycling (though one might wonder what he’s still doing there, then). He’s also a farm boy who would always sympathise with the plight of farmers under EU dictatorship (which imposes international free market economy and makes it impossible for them to sell). He would tear down the European flag from his dossard.
What you give to the land, the land gives it to you. That’s the reality of the farm.
Aurélien Duval : Duval was a big French hope by 2006 to 2008 both on the road and in cyclocross until a positive test for norfenfluramine, a mere stimulant possibly the cause of food poisoning. He nonetheless paid two years for this. When asked whether it was an injustice he answered: “Yes, no, maybe… I’m not gonna mope”. Aurel accepted his plight with dignity, with a low-profile and without whining: “In life just as in cycling, it’s the same. Everybody has to sort things out themselves.”. It seems obvious to me that he was the victim of an injustice but you wouldn’t hear him say it. He had few friends, none in the cycling world, there he only had acquaintances. During his two-year ban, Aurel first lived on unemployment benefits but then also worked for his father’s public engineering company. Aurel is a lorry driver. He’s always up at 7.00am and in bed at 9.00pm, not his cycling rhythm, he’s been raised that way. He doesn’t watch TV, listen to music nor go out at night but still cycles 750km a week. His return to competition in 2013 was encouraged by the few friends he had because he was not interested at all. He raced for the club of his youth UV Aube which had become Club Champagne Charlott’, with its very attractive jersey. He prepared it with training sessions of 25 to 30 hours a week, madness. Aurel shocked everyone when he became French champion. I still remember his post-race interview: a lot of self-control and appeased with himself. Low-profile, as always. He said clearly that it was not a revenge and that criticism made him laugh. I still remember his last season in 2013/2014. Saw him in Overijse but then though he was selected for the Worlds in Louisville, Aurel declined the offer because out of form his presence there and the trip across the ocean would cost too much money for the federation and anyway he already knew that within a month he would no longer be a cycling rider. Indeed he put a brutal end to his pro career after cyclocross season. Aurélien Duval is a rider who deserves to be remembered by true cycling fans but probably won’t.

Arnaud Jouffroy : Former Junior and U23 World Cyclocross Champion, he had the bad luck of coming from the Gard in a non-cycling family. He’s never been really connecting with the milieu and no French teams have ever been interested in him while he was also a very good roadie who could keep up with Bardet and Pinot as a Junior. He’s never been given a chance. He came to Belgium by default but never really could adapt to the Belgian lifestyle and came back to Southern France (Montpellier) in the last years of his career but could never get any contract. Arnoyo is probably still the only Frenchman to outsprint Sagan (2008 Junior World Cyclocross Championship on the very dry route of Treviso) and two years later was awarded the U23 title after the disqualification of the Sczcepaniak Polish brother for EPO doping. Arnaud does not feel any resentment towards the world of cyclocross. He appreciates a lot what Van der Poel and Van Aert do because they are both strong and fun. He’s even resumed racing a little but only at regional level for fun and after playful training. He still enjoys doing sport: a lot of kite-surf and considers triathloning. I feel really glad I could see him at the 2010 U23 cyclocross in Namur which he won for BKCP. He seemed really nice, smiling and easily accessible for kids wishing to be photographed with him.


Cyriel Van Houwaert: Cyriel Van Houwaert is also in Belgium the first rider coming from the agrarian world to shock the world of cycling at a time when cycling was mainly a track affair but track cycling was declining, velodrome got closed. Cyriel greatly contributed to the advent of road cycling and the track cycling revival. He was just a farm hand. He spared 190 Belgian Franks in order to buy his first bike; the equivalent of a three month salary for a farm hand. The bike made him discover the sea while he was living 45km away from it. He came 2nd in his first Paris-Roubaix to Georges Passerieu while being denied pacemakers who were only restricted for the big names of the team La Française (the brothers Émile & Léon Georget but since the Georget crashed he ended up having a pacemaker). He won Bordeaux-Paris while riding faster than his own pacemakers. He won Milan-Sanremo while he had to go from Bruges to Milan … by bike to start the race. In Van Houwaert’s footsteps came a whole generation of Flandrians mainly from West-Flanders like him and most of them farm boys getting to cycling to escape the hard work on the land.

Émile Masson sr: Masson was a Walloon from Namur whose family moved to Liege where employment was. He was initiated by his father to the very hard job of well-digging. Then he became a coal miner, an even harder but better paying job, he worked at night from 6.00pm to 6.00am. He only started racing at age 22, turned pro at age 25, WWI broke out when he was aged 27 and only after it ended he could starting building a palmares, which was yet slow to start because he needed to learn a lot tactically (because he came so late to the racing). He won Bordeaux-Paris and the World Championship (then called GP Wolber). He was also among the trio of the 1922 Paris-Tours with Mottiat and F Pélissier. Masson is known for telling his son: “I don’t mind seeing you win Paris-Roubaix and die two hours later. I would depart in peace, telling myself: ‘I’ve made a champion out of my son. Now he does not need me anymore.’”

Émile Masson jr: Thank to his father who could save a lot of money out of cycle racing, Masson jr did not need to do any manual work nor was destined to cycling at first. His father wished him to be a civil servant but the cycling disease took him regardless. He won Paris-Roubaix in 1939, was mobilized four months later at the Fort of Eben Emael, first fort captured by the Germans on May 11 1940, he was a prisoner of war for four years (Stalag XI, Fallingbostel) but helped many fellow prisoners escaping (he attempted an escape himself but was caught roughly 30k from the Dutch border). He won Bordeaux-Paris in 1946, the year of the resumption of most races. When he was freed, the only thing that Émile had with him was a Belgian flag. Therefore he always attached a lot of importance to flags and campaigned against sponsor mentions on national jerseys.

Brik Schotte: Nicknamed the Last of the Flandrians because he was the last champion of the great generation of Flandrian farm boys who dominated the field for decades. Schotte even worked in the flax fields on the Lys River, which the region of Kortrijk is famous for. There were farmers in the peloton afterwards but not the majority anymore. Schotte had a weird position on the bicycle but was a fighter. He then became a great figure as the DS of Flandria at the height of the Flandria epic advising riders such as Godefroot, the De Vlaeminck’s, Monseré, Leman, Zoetemelk, etc. Schotte had could discover talents like no other: he was the first to notice the talent of Johan De Muynck. However he’s been three times demoted to assistant DS by Lomme Driessens, last time was with Freddy Maertens, whom he hated. But he remained loyal and honest, never complained.

Frans Verbeeck : Started racing by 1963, stopped in 1966, after poor results, restarted his job as milkman but by 1968 came back to cycling, trained like a beast and got one of the most impressive amount of top10 places in classics in the history of ever !!! Major victories usually escaped him, until 1974 when he outsprinted De Vlaeminck at the Arrow. But he was always present, with a shot at, he would always fight cleanly and fair with Merckx or so despite lesser talent. The 1975 Tour of Flanders remains in anyone’s memory when he was washed out by Merckx for 90km and in the post-race interview said: “He rides 5 per hour too fast for us!” Many would also remember the 1973 Liege Bastogne Liege when everybody thought he finally outsprinted Merckx but the finish photo gave the win to the latter, distracted by the change of lines on the track. He’s been so unlucky. Merckx would once pay tribute to the “Flying Milkman”: “I could teach cycling again to anybody but to Frans Verbeeck”. The fact that he won the Omloop in 1970 while doing his milk tour in the morning impressed everybody. His training on the French Riviera under pouring rain while there were nobody out made everybody thought he was insane. And then after his career as a rider he started his textile company Vermarc which has provided kits for many cycling teams (Quick-Step, Lotto-Soudal, Topsport, Milram, Unitedhealthcare, Wallonie-BXL, Vastgoedservice, TVM, ADR, Daf Trucks, etc.) and athletes (Kim Gevaert). The milkman has become a rich CEO.

Albert Van Damme : A champion to be respected. Some 400 cyclocross wins and yet cyclocross was for him just a hobby because he worked. He was a floriculturist and did a few other jobs like selling beers (when racing for the beer Watneys) and soap (when racing for the soap company Marc Zeepcentrale). He could race a cyclocross in Spain one weekend and work in the floriculture the next Monday. For all these reasons Roger De Vlaeminck said: “The rider whom I have most respect for”. Therefore Roger De Vlaeminck opened bottles of champaign to celebrate “Berten’s” win against him at the 1974 World Championship in Vera di Bidasoa, Spain: “A rider who has given so much for cyclocross deserves to get World Champion”. “Berten” Van Damme became a champion in his later years when the competition with Erik De Vlaeminck made him a better rider than he formerly was. The De Vlaeminck brothers were ahead of their time in terms of training methods and Van Damme emulated them, especially Erik. Though he had already known about interval training, Erik improved those methods a lot. That’s how he got World Champion at age 33. Despite lesser talent he defeated Erik De Vlaeminck more than once, especially when the route was hard. The latter would then retire from the race, out of soar grapes, rather than finish second.

Walter Godefroot : I chatted last year with a French guy at a secondhand market dedicated to cycling and that guy told me how Godefroot always impressed him by riding on cobbles without gloves. “That was a rider.” He was also pleased to see a young guy like me interested in these old cycling days. Godefroot had been a carpenter for 3 years working from 7am to 6.30pm. Cycling also help him raise socially. He was also classy enough to give good advice to young talents when still an active rider: like to Monseré, Maertens or Willems and naturally he turned DS after his career.

Patrick Sercu: The greatest track rider of all time and in my opinion also the greatest sprinter of all time. 1000+ victories altogether. Sercu was a road champion too. And could do more than just sprint. In the Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne he won in 1977, he attacked on the Koppenberg before finishing it off in a sprint. In 1976 he could climb to the Lago Laceno with the best at least till 2k from the stop despite slopes up to 10%. And in 1977 a 170k solo breakaway for a stage win at the Tour of France, in Charleroi. Recently noticed that Pat also had humor. He was selected for the Worlds in Montreal 1974 and when recoed the route he said:
I’m wondering what I’m doing here. The guy who told me that it was an easy route must have recoed it by night and in a state of drunkenness.
Eddy Merckx : Many things have been said of course. Though I don’t like what he has lately become (defence of Armstrong, organizer of the Tour of Qatar) but nothing to say about the rider and not even about the bike manufacturer. The Luis Ocaña tribute says it all:
Oh, goodness! I’d give several hectares of my lands to see him back in the peloton for a fortnight. Just for a fortnight. He would show all these cuties what racing against Merckx was like. They would have no time to pierce their ears or dye their hair. All they would have time for is laying on a couch and have a rest.
Herman Van Springel : A complete rider, one of the most underrated rider in history. Roger De Vlaeminck remembered his ITT skills when he teamed up with him at the Baden Baden GP. The problem with Van Springel was the mind. He was too good and did not have the personality of a leader. That’s how he became a luxury helper for Merckx or Maertens. Maybe the only outburst of his career came when he raced the 1969 Baracchi Trophy when scheduled to team up with Davide Boifava, trained with him and at the last moment the organizers decided to ally Boifava with Merckx while Van Springel was now planned to race with an already off-seasoned Joaquim Agostinho. Irony is that he won that race with Agostinho. Van Springel’s name will always be linked to Bordeaux-Paris, 7 times a winner. Even though these were editions with depleted fields, you still needed to get balls to cover those 600km, a race that required a one-month preparation after the spring classic campaign, few had the balls to do that but Herman did. As his best fan – Mac Uytterhoeven – said: “always racing for what he was worth”, if you are not fast in a sprint you have to know how to knock. Herman learned that. That’s how as a non-sprinter, he won Paris-Tours and Ghent-Wevelgem.

Roger De Vlaeminck : The Gipsy should be remembered as a rider ahead of his time in terms of training methods (already in his amateur year), thanks to the help of his physical trainer, the late Georges Debbaut (also preparing his brother). A varied training programme which included intervals, fitness (he was an accomplished gymnast, his brother was a local champion in that field), running, power-training and also endurance training but not just. He worked with a plumber, in a printing office and a weaving factory. De Vlaeminck was of course not just the man of one race but he certainly handled Paris-Roubaix like no other, it was said he had a balance wheel inside his shoulders, his tubes were always intact after the race unlike those of his teammates. He kept racing some cyclocrosses whenever he could because he liked it and he won some of the most prestigious of them. Roger has always loved the Italian semi-classics which he rates higher than the Belgian equivalents, those races were all Ardennes classics he said. Sadly those are almost all extinct now. Finally, after his career he bought a farm tries to eat as much organic food from his own garden, he’s a great animal lover, breeds several species (even some crows!),… Oh and of course, he’s always praised Boonen unlike what has been said of them and has kept on saying he would not mind Boonen breaking his Paris-Roubaix record, unlike what is commonly believed.

Jean-Pierre Monseré : My favourite character in cycling history, a choice that has a lot been influenced by the great book by Mark Van Hamme “Jean-Pierre Monseré: Voor altijd 22” (Roularta 2010), probably the best cycling biography ever published, giving all the details of Jempi’s career ever since his first year as a novice at age 13. Jempi was the son of an electrician, growing up in a working-class area of Roeselaere, which was scorned by merchants downtown. When Jempi turned pro, his talents were long known. But Jempi also should be known for his Spartan training methods. Along with physical trainer Dr Jan Derluyn (later to worked with Freddy Maertens), he developed interval training from an early age while still an early amateur rider. With IT he became known as a rider who could bridge gaps between groups in a minimum of time and that’s how he became World Champion in 1970. Besides, he regularly consulted the short-sighted osteopath Jacques Delva (who also later worked with Maertens and whose son Michiel has worked with Stijn Devolder and Jens Debusschere among others) and did yoga exercices with him to enhance suppleness. To (best friend) Roger De Vlaeminck’s own admition, he was much more talented, faster in the sprint, could climb better, could ITT, etc. He was not a two months pro yet when declared winner of the Tour of Lombardy after Karstens’ positive test. At the 1970 Tour of Switzerland he defied Gimondi and Bitossi in the Saint-Gothard. Gimondi came to tell him: “Is that enough?”, which he replied by yet another attack. After the stage, Felice told him “Vous, cowboy?” Jempi: “Moi cowboy?” and the rest in Dutch which Gimondi of course could not understand: “I somehow sit better on my horse than you do”. Gimondi later told his widow Annie that he had never been dropped so brutally than by Jempi. Jempi’s so sudden death in a kermess in Retie with rainbow jersey on came as a shocker. Cycling was at the peak of its popularity in Belgium. Too many kermesses, safety could no longer be guaranteed. Six years later Jempi’s son Giovanni was killed at age 8 in terribly similar circumstances. A lot more can be said about Jempi, a fascinating character.

Edwig Van Hooydonck : My youth hero between 1991 & 1993. Van Hooydonck turned pro at age 20 in 1987 and readily won the Brabantian Arrow, finished 5th in Paris-Roubaix, a year later he finished 14th at the Dauphiné libéré (he the solid cobble rider) and won the GP Eddy Merckx (ITT) and in 1989 at age 22 he won his first Tour of Flanders. His second one came two years later in 1991. But by 1993, at age 26, all of sudden, Edwig was declining, at an age when your best years are yet to come. He trained harder than ever before, he was not exhausted by too much racing at an early age, fiercer competition can somewhat explain it but in order to explain it all you need to go some other section …

Costante Girardengo : Gira also symbolizes the Italian farm-boy cyclist, that’s why he rapidly got Pélissier’s respect (helped by his good command of French) when the latter came to Italy (despite the fanaticism of the Italian crowd) but that was also the start of a fierce rivalry which also divided France & Italy. The difficulty in assessing the values of these giants came from the isolation of Italy from the rest of Europe, Gira won a lot of races in his country with a depleted local field at that time but which now are classics and he rarely left Italy. He’s not much to blame though. His main victory against Pélissier came in 1924 with the GP Wolber, aka World Championship. He was so proud of beating Pélissier that he had the finish photograph be painted and hung in his home. It should however be said that he was a far better trackie than Pélissier though, he regularly beat him in omnium events. Along with soigneur Biagio Cavanna (future soigneur of Coppi’s), Gira installed the first winter team training session and was a maniac in recognizing race routes. It should also be said that Gira survived the 1918 Spanish Flu (50 million dead). After his career, he started his own cycling factory and a pro team, was especially successful with Rik Van Steenbergen. Gira was a fascinating story, much to tell about him, especially his relation (much romanticized into a friendship) with anarchist Sante Pollastri : the legend of Il bandito e il campione

Fausto Coppi : Much has been said about him but if one thing has to be remembered of his it’s certainly how he adopted the latest training methods of his time and studied the work of the most renowned dieticians and applied all that to cycling and influenced future generations, the “Father of Modern Cycling”. He understood that training strictly seen in terms of volume was a thing of the past, the average speed mattered, he even introduced some early forms of interval training to cycling. In terms of diet he put the emphasis on liquid rather than solid food. His new methods had a huge influence on riders such as Louison Bobet or Fred De Bruyne among others. Little known fact is that Coppi was one of the first Italians to come to Belgian races where he acquainted Lomme Driessens future legendary Belgian DS. That’s how he won the Omloop in 1948, one of the hardest races he had ever raced thus far but unfortunately was disqualified for an illegal bike change and relegated to 2nd place but he was definitely the best man in the race.

Fiorenzo Magni : Jean Bobet called him a “coureur à moral”, a rider with fortitude. Van Steenbergen said about him and Kübler that they had more mental than physical talents. Coppi & Bartali had more raw talent than him but he added up with fighting spirit, ardour and amazing willpower. He neither fear snow nor rain. That’s how he managed a hat-trick at the Tour of Flanders, wins he’s most proud of. Van Steenbergen remembered their chase behind Coppi at the 1950 Paris-Roubaix. Magni would cuss like a Damned one and fight till there’s foam on his lips. He saw him an epitome of willpower. Magni was also persecuted by the good-thinking intelligentsia for a supposed role in a Fascist militia but the Florence cleared him of all charges. Besides, his refusal to serve on a warship sailing to Albania saved him as that warship was torpedoed by the Allied.

Pino Cerami : The story of the first great champion to ever come from Sicily (long before Nibali), only his family migrated to the coal mines of Charleroi, Belgium when he was aged 5, like so many South Italians did in the 1920’s and after 1946. Pino could only start his pro career at age 25 due to the war. His debut was timid, he battled with Coppi & Van Steenbergen at the 1949 Walloon Arrow. In 1953 he went to the Tour of Lombardy at his own expense and got 2nd in a controversial sprint, a top10 place was enough to cover the back & forth Brussels-Milan train fare. His glory moments came at the age of 38 when with the Belgian nationality he won the 1960 Paris-Roubaix (first race ever live covered on TV) and Walloon Arrow, the 1961 Paris-Brussels and a stage at the 1963 Tour of France at age 41, the year he got his last selection for the World Championship, one of the few riders to remain loyal to Van Looy in the Belgian team. He remained a much-loved figure in Wallonia ever after he retired, the GP named after him celebrates its 50 years anniversary this year. He was a joyful, exuberant character and made guest appearances for comedy shows unrelated to cycling.

Michele Dancelli : The story of a 13-year-old kid who had to work as a bricklayer to earn his bread while still carrying on his schooling, studying late at night. Within a year of saving from work he could buy a bike and joined a club in 1958. He turned pro in 1963, getting the same salary as he would on the building site. Dancelli could have been a greater champion if it wasn’t for his erratic racing, he would race as his body told him and was often tactically inept. These long breakaways however also provided him with some outstanding wins like the 1970 Milan-Sanremo (first Italian win in 17 years) or a 100km breakaway in the mountainous Stage 3 of the 1972 Tour of Switzerland. (thanks Froome19 for informing me a lot about his story)

Franco Bitossi : The amazing story of a champion who suffered from PVC and yet raced 17 years as pro and built up one of the greatest palmares in the history this sport,winning over 140 races, including two Tours of Lombardy. His tachycardia attacks often compelled him to dismount and sit on the roadside to let the symptoms pass. His heart problems can lead to a debate in the Clinic but that is an offence to talk about that issue here. Bitossi survived several generations and at age 36, he could still handle Moser & Baronchelli in their prime (at the Nats). Along with Gimondi he contributed to cycling’s popularity in the seventies. At that time, every newspaper would dedicated half a page if not more to all of the Italian semi-classics. That was not the case in the fifties nor in the eighties. And he won his share of these races. Gimondi would say : “Usually I hardened the race and he finished them off”. Bitossi was also an accomplished cyclocrosser, national champion and participant at the Worlds.

Felice Gimondi : In an interview for the French TV on April 23 1966 Gimondi showed how proud he was to have won Paris-Roubaix [first time on the new route] because he had been thus far labelled a stage race rider and was keen to prove he also was a classic rider (Gimondi openly criticized Armstrong for focusing on 2 races a year and like many champions of his era regrets the specialization of cycling in the noughties). The day after he went on to win Paris-Brussels. 10 years later he won at Paris-Brussels the last major win of his career, while only planned to race for his favourite teammate Tonnie Houbrechts. After winning the Tour of France nothing had changed in his life in Sedrina, near Bergamo, as if the Tour of France was small thing. He kept driving lorries for his father’s transport business, working in the mountains with his good friend the old shepherd Luigi who had initiated him to cycling, climbed up with him to the sanctuary of the Madonna della Gamba, lit a candle, left trophies as ex-votos … Gimondi had a reputation as a gentleman rider, though slightly tainted by a bad fixing habit. Gimondi never gave up the fight against Merckx. So Franco Tota told about his defying him after À travers Lausanne in 1972: to beat him again in a single-day race, an ITT and a GT (Worlds 1973, Forte dei Marmi 1973, Tour of Italy 1976).

Hennie Kuiper : Hennie grew up as a shy farm boy in a Catholic area of Overijssel who had to go to school by bike everyday and went on to build one of the greatest palmares in Dutch cycling history. The first part of his career in the seventies was rather stage race oriented (wins the 1976 Tour of Switzerland and twice a runner-up at the Tour of France) and the second one classic oriented. He won four different classics plus the 1975 Worlds, never won in the Ardennes but came second to Hinault in the famously snowy 1980 edition of Liege-Bastogne-Liège. His most iconic win remains the 1983 Paris-Roubaix with this broken tyre on the section of Hem, a photographer who was looking for a good picture chose the right moment, you could see him waiting for the neutral car, bent position, clapping the hands, etc. Hennie claimed that he was not in panic but it lasted for some 25 seconds. Some argued that Hennie was the greatest Dutch rider of all time. My fanboyism doesn’t go quite that far but he’s got the most beautiful and varied palmares. He had fortitude and self-discipline. Mart Smeets wrote a nice tribute to Hennie in the book by Christophe Vandegoor “Wuyts en Smeets”. He admitted to being a big fan of his.

Gerrie Knetemann : A colourful figure, a rider who could go far beyond the pain (which some say has led to his early death) and a raconteur with a particular sense of humor (Amsterdam humor) and genius to coin cycling-related idioms, as in his famous radio show “Kneetstory” starting back in 1977. Kneet was a road worker, paved streets before turning pro, so that he knew what hard work was. He sweated like a buffalo on his bike. Of all four Dutch World Champion in the seventies and eighties (Kuiper, him, Raas & Zoetemelk), Kneet was clearly the lesser talented but he was known to make the most of relatively limited talent and still built a palmares that many would have dreamt of. He outsprinted Moser in a legendary two-man sprint for rainbow on the Nurburgring. His glory moment! Mart Smeets reported his many questions regarding the talk that he had had with Moser before the sprint and Kneet would always have a surrealistic answer in the fridge such as “We were talking about South Asian Bond Markets” or something like that. The Kneet also was a very curious guy who kept on culturing himself by reading history books about far-away civilizations or about Alexander the Great, the little road worker reformed himself a lot. Kneet’s career almost went to a tragedy back in the 1983 rainy Dwars door België (present-day Dwars door Vlaanderen) when in the descent of the Taaienberg he hit a parked car. When his DS Peter Post came to the spot, he saw so much blood flowing that he thought he was done. The pictures were frightening: flesh wounds, ripped carotid, fractured arms and legs … On his hospital bed Kneet was filmed asking the doctor: “With such an arm, may I soon play the piano again, doc?” “Yes? Well, that’s great because I actually never could.” His come-back was that of a champion when he won his second Amstel Gold, two years after that crash. May his daughter Roxane still do well in the rest of her career. His passing sincerely affected me.

Frans Maassen: Another youth hero whom I still like retrospectively as an adult for the same reason as his career-long teammate/leader Edwig Van Hooydonck. Frans stopped his career at age 30 in 1995 for a reason that may not be said here but while he was at the best of his physical shape. I was perhaps the only guy to root for him at the 1993 Tour of Flanders against Museeuw, so bitter I was that Van Hooydonck could not keep up. Retrospectively, I think it was a good choice. Maassen was never a talent like Van Hooydonck but he was a solid ITT specialist winning two GP Eddy Merckx and remain for a long time in the top20 at the UCI ranking around 1991/92 despite the unmentionable thing. He should have been World Champion in Oslo 1993 instead of … Finally Frans Maassen was one of the main victims of the ridiculous feud between Peter Post and Jan Raas, resp. DS of Panasonic and his own Buckler. The stage to Montluçon at the 1992 Tour of France reach a peak of ridicule in that. Frans racing for Buckler, Sergeant for Panasonic leaving breakaway mate Jean-Claude Colotti winning the stage rather than the other one. For this reason his victory at the 1991 Amstel Gold, in his own backyard, was a most valuable win, outsprinting Panasonic rider Maurizio Fondriest in a controversial sprint.

Ferdi Kübler : Ferdi Kübler came from a poor family from Marthalen near Zurich. His father was an asylum warden and rent the ground floor of a farm. Ferdi remembered as a mean man. In the farm, only the kitchen and the bathroom were heated and they had to sleep with the 6 of them in but one small freezing bedroom. As a teenager Ferdi was a postman and had to climb mountain pass with a bagful of mail on his back. In a TV show for Arte TV in 2003 he told us how he was convinced by then that he would climb a lot faster without this burden on his back, quite logically but it shows how Ferdi was a champion of mental fortitude. Rik Van Steenbergen said his was a mental rather than a physical talent and he proved it with the 1949 World Championship which Rik won ahead of Ferdi. Coppi was third but at the end Kübler who was “dead” outsprinted the still fresh Coppi. “his morale and his willpower drove him to the highest performances.” Ferdi was a cyclocrosser in his early days and while still 19-year-old first year amateur cyclocrosser, he already could lap (!) some experienced professionals. Finally, his presence at the 1954 Ghent-Wevelgem and 2nd place to teammate and compatriot Rolf Graf helped the race taking off!

Albert Zweifel : Albert Zweifel is one of the greatest cyclocrosser in the history of the sport but Belgian commentators would often overlook his career and rather remember those of Erik De Vlaeminck or Roland Liboton while Albert won a lot more than the former and on much harder routes and won more World Championships than the second while also remaining at the top for a much longer period than both. Of course Nys can legitimately claim to overshadow his career. Zweifel was the Swiss champion at the heydays of Swiss cyclocross when behind him riders such as Pieter Frischknecht and the brothers Erwin & Willi Lienhard also made reasonably great career. Also the most coveted cyclocrosses were raced in Switzerland and not in Belgium like nowadays and that accounted for great courses. Zweifel especially needed hard routes because sprinting was a liability. Or else, a whole lot of mud. Zweifel stood famous for his running abilities and that’s how he won his last two World Title: in 1979 in Saccolongo, Italy and in 1986 in Lembeek, Belgium, when at age 36, nobody would have bet a kopek on him. These routes were so muddy that on say 75% of it, you had to run with the bike on the shoulder and in such conditions, there could only be one top favourite: Albert Zweifel. Zweifel was a poor boy from Ruti, near Zurich. His family run a farm and his father also worked in a factory. They did not have television until Albert was 18. During his career, Albert’s approach to cycling also evolved, realizing that the De Vlaeminck’s were much more professional than Swiss riders, he started emulating the Belgians. He specifically trained the running aspect and in terms of diet, he first ate meat & rice, realized it was useless, so started eating eggs (omelette) until somebody told him it was wrong, so he started eating pasta’s and they all copied him.

Rolf Wolfshohl : Three time Cyclocross World Champion, Paris-Nice winner, and Tour of Spain winner (at the expense of his leader Poulidor in a controversial way), but he missed several chances to win a major classic: notably in the 1963 Milan-Sanremo (betrayed by the finish photo) or the 1963 Paris-Roubaix (puncture), the 1962 Liège-Bastogne-Liège (surprisingly outsprinted by Jef Planckaert). His father was killed during WWII and he had to take care of his family and worked as a metal turner/mechanic. He bought his first bike on credit. Then he got a new job as a newspaper carrier. Rolf Wolfshohl is arguably one of the greatest descenders in history. Jean-Paul Ollivier remembers the stage Ajaccio-Bastia oft he 1963 Paris-Nice. Ollivier was the “slater“ (showing time gaps), on his motorbike. They were in the descent oft he Col de Teghime, Rolf was leading alone. He requested his pilot to stop because it was impossible to follow him, he has never seen a rider descending so fast. He won that stage.


Active riders

Sep Vanmarcke : When he won the Omloop, journos discovered that he was driving a 9-year-old secondhand Ford Mondeo and he claimed that it’s not because he has won the Omloop that he was to buy a new car, his car had 240,000k, his goal was to reach 300,000k. His humility touched me. Plus the story of his relation with his brother Ken, a postman and former rider, he’s his best training mate and tries to train as much as possible with him. I know that Sep does not like the N-VA (the Flemish separatists! Said it on Twitter) and he also criticised the new Tour of Flanders route for plainly ignoring his province (West Flanders). Besides, Generic told me that he was also a joker, with a particular sense of humor.

Jürgen Roelandts : He’s always been a nice guy but he became a legend in that 2015 Ghent-Wevelgem when he attempted a 60km solo breakaway, built a strong gap and got caught a few km from finish. At least he made the most of his new protected status, after having had to lead out the sprint for Greipel for so many years. But then at the Belgian nats, he also was the main animator of the race before being outsprinted by Preben Van Hecke, who sucked his wheel mos t of the time. “I realized how bitter fries can taste” was the headline of an article for Gazet van Antwerpen one year later. Whether he often had thought about that loss he answered
Yes, it’s one of the biggest disappointments of my career. Correction: the biggest one
. Whether he is not sufficiently egoistic to be a winner, Jurgen answered he probably is not enough so but that he can be hard for himself and his teammates too. But that year Jürgen won the respect of all true cycling fans. He raced with his heart and his guts!

Fumiyuki Beppu : Fumy is a people’s person. He can be chatting with fans for hours after a race and is very funny too. I remember a stage at the Tour of Wallonia, was at the start, the announcer could not pronounce his name and finally got it right after a few attempts, which made Fumy show a thumb up with a great smile. That was so nice. Japanese have a reputation for being nice to fans and Fumy certainly is an example of that.

Cyril Gautier : Cyril was a talent in the youth category, European Champion in 2008, he never truly matched the expectation with the pros despite some nice wins and being a dedicated domestique on the odd occasion. Cyril has a very good reputation from every point of view (see what I mean). His position on a bicycle betrays his determination and fighting spirit. He’s a Breton after all, from the Côtes d’Armor. He’s a very funny and pleasant guy (corrosive humor), races some cyclocross in his spare time. I like his nickname: the little lutin.

Jérémy Roy : A very smart guy, accessible for fans to get a talk with, an engineer who contributed to bring the e-derailleur to the bike and most famously he was among the first to win a big race with it: a stage of the 2008 Paris-Nice. He’s also a cyclocrosser in his spare time. I’ll remember Jeremy for his 2004 Paris-Roubaix. He wasn’t planned to race it but had to replace Baden Cooke. He kept up with the peloton until Arenberg but a massive crash occurred before him. At the second feed zone, he planned to retire look all riders around him and asked his kinesist how many km there still was: “50 of them”. So, okay, he decided to remount his bike and to finish alone. With 30k to go, he had the broomwagon behind him. Backstedt wins while he’s still on the Carrefour de l’Arbre. On the Velodrome, nobody’s there anymore but a commissar and the announcer, Daniel Mangeas. But still he’s got a right to the bell and a tour of the track, crossing the line 51’08” after a 50km solo! One thing he regretted was not having access to the famous stone-made Roubaix showers. He had his shower in the bus. On his blog he said that DS Marc Madiot told him: “So now, you are a man”. Michel Wuyts once reported a dialogue of Madiot saying “You are another man, now”, Jeremy replying: “No, I’ve just become a man.” I don’t know what is legend and what is true but it’s the story of a gutsy Paris-Roubaix ride that I love so much. But on his blog he would say: “Never Roubaix again!”

Lars Van der Haar : Lars is such a funny guy, his tweets are hilarious and his first interviews for Sporza when he was U23 World Champion for the first time in 2011 were phenomenal. When asked whether he would one day switch to the road he did not beat around the bush: “No because road cycling is boring”. He was so glad to have reached the top100 at the prologue of the Olympia’s Tour in 2012 (he was 96th). Self-derision is not a problem for him. He would always laugh at his small height I had the pleasure to see him at the 2013 Cyclocross of Overijse, he was doing some rolls but kept smiling for half an hour or so. Very nice guy, on and off camera, for sure.

Kevin Pauwels : KP is probably the shyest athlete I’ve ever seen and being monstrously shy myself, I identify with him. I’d also be super intimidated if I had to respond to interviews. Michel Wuyts said that as a teen Kevin was said to have a slight form of autism and that at school he was “more quiet than quiet”. He’s often had the reputation as a wheelsucker, unfair judgement when you see how he won the 2009 cyclocross of Zolder, solo from lap 1 to finish or in Pontchâteau 2011 when in duo with Niels Albert, the latter could hardly take the lead and yet was outsprinted by Kevin. The following season he switched from Fidea to Sunweb and dominated the season head & shoulder, attacking all the time and feeling much more at ease with interviews. Actually Kevin sucks wheel when he’s out of form and takes initiatives when he’s fit. Kevin is a farm boy, born between two barns but his father Jos and his uncle Dirk also were crossers. His brother Tim passed away of cardiac arrest during the 2004 Cyclocross of Erpe-Mere. Ever since Kevin refuses to race with a heart rate monitor on.

Mathieu Van der Poel : It’s been such a pleasure following Mathieu’s performances since the novice category, when brother David was one of the best junior and U23 rider and see how he evolves. He was already crushing the field since the novice years and now still with the elite. But the kid is also so polite and affable at interviews. I remember his interview when he got his first 2nd place against pros at the 2013 Scheldecross in Antwerpen, losing to teammate Niels Albert. It seemed like he knew what he had to say. The great thing for a cyclocross fan like me is that while many want to see him focus on the road stuff where his talent no longer need be proven either, Mathieu still keeps saying he wants to make a career in the fields, which he likes best of all cycling disciplines and said after his loss to Van Aert at this year’s Worlds: “He’s gonna be my rival for the years to come”, which means that he wants to stay. I found it particularly interesting to see Mathieu trying out mountainbiking this year, without any experience, even though it was cut short but he won some nice races in that category too.

Wout Van Aert : I will always remember that Niels Albert quote about his main rider : “He can say ‘thanks’ 20 times in one day.” Wout is as polite and affable as his main rival is. That’s refreshing for cyclocross. Besides, in a recent interview for Het Laatste Nieuws, Wout claimed that “as a child I dreamed of a career in the fields, not on the road, I just enjoy it a lot”, that says a lot about the popularity of cyclocross in the Campine compared to road cycling and reassuring for cross fans like me. Yet I was over the moon when Wout outtimetrialed Tony Martin in the Tour of Belgium prologue. That took me by surprise. Another great thing about Wout is that he always fight for what he’s worth. If the win is out of reach he would fight for second, if 2nd place is out of reach he’d fight for 3rd, etc unlike some bad losers who cannot accept being second. I will also always remember how he’s been trapped by a hidden camera by Niels Albert on channel Vier and reacted very well to it.

Julien Absalon : Arguably the greatest mountainbiker of all time even though MTB is fairly recent. Julien has a very good reputation re: what we cannot talk about. But he’s a champion who can also feel the pain. I’m always shuddering when I see his massive collapse at the 2008 World Championship because of a terrible , the collapse that made him lose his title fort he first time in 5 years. His younger brother Rémy is also a mountainbiker who specialised in enduro and downhill (three-time Euro champion) but has most of all started the sporting Tour operator Irwego which organises some nice trips and activity in the Vosges for people to practice MTB.

Tom Meeusen : Even though I don’t like it when he makes stupid wheelies, I’ve always loved to follow Tom’s pro bono sponsored treks in Senegal (+ one in Cameroon) in order to raise some school around Dakar. He would cover ~500km on MTB with dozens of participants, usually Telenet employees and for some editions his own DS Danny De Bie and relatives of his. Each participant had to gather €3500 for subscribing. In 2014 he did two tours in a row and then a training session in Spain with Telenet-Fidea. What an adventurer he is!

Gert-Jan Bosman : A great cyclocross talent in the youth category but sort of never matched the expectations. I like this blondie very much for he’s always very active on his own website: http://www.gert-janbosman.nl/ typing very long (sort of 20 to 30 lines if not more) reviews of his own races, always giving some nice anecdotes and details. Besides, he’s always so enthusiastic about the Slag om Norg which he‘s finished top10 every year but yesterday, winning the 2013 edition, this wonderful Dutch race in his own province on non-asphalt roads which he loves. Among the U23 cyclocrossers of his generation, Gert-Jan did the best on the road back in 2011/12, he was much better than then teammate Van der Haar at Rabobank while the latter was already doing better in the field.

Tanguy Turgis : Another rider I’ve been following since he was 15 years of age in the “cadet” category. Tanguy is Anthony and Jimmy’s younger brother and his two parents and several uncles also raced as amateurs. The three brothers raced both road and cyclocross in the youth category but Anthony dropped cross because he’s got a much brighter future on the road. Tanguy is still a junior rider at the moment and is still racing cyclocross, a discipline in which he’s had his best results until this year when he was 3rd at Paris-Roubaix. Tanguy loves cyclocross but is likely to follow his brother Anthony’s footsteps to the road… let’s hope not. Anyway he loves his brothers and is looking forward to race against/with them. He’s already raced against Jimmy but never against Anthony. And even last year as a first year junior, he already mixed it up with some of the best U23 and even elite riders. I don’t know if he’s more talented than Anthony but he’s got talent and it pleased me to see that the kid I followed as a 15-year-old “cadet” is now 3rd at the junior Paris-Roubaix.

Stig Broeckx : Since Stig was plunged into a vegetative coma in total indifference of the international cycling fan community, I feel it a duty to remind everybody that Stig is a wonderfully smiling farm boy who regularly helped on the family farm when he was younger but since he turned pro would rather rest on a sofa. He’s less active during the cycling season but in October during the off-season it’s traditionally the time to harvest maize and the whole family gather together to work along and he would go along. In 2014 he made a promotional clip for the “Dag van de Landbouw” event (Day of Agriculture) : “How Fast Can Stig Milk?” Stig wished to become a veterinary surgeon until he realised at age 18 that he had the talent to become a pro cyclist and so he switched these long and exhaustive studies for studies in agricultural industry. Stig had a lot of projects for his reconversion after the cycling career. He kept a lot of interest in farming and the example of Wim Vansevenant who took over his own family farm inspired him, though he’s in competition with his brother and his sister (he said with his usual great smile!). This is all that the world might lose if Stig does not wake up…

Yves Lampaert : Another farm boy who is proud of his roots. He would publish pictures of himself between cows. Neither does he have a lot of time to work in the farm during the cycling season but in the off season he could come by to among other things cut cauliflower but there’s always something to do on the farm anyway, he says. He’s sometimes referred to as the archetypal Flandrian : hard-worker and rock solid. Just like Stig he’s got a bachelor-degree in agro-industry. Just like Stig he came to cycling very late, aged 17. Before that he did judo. (a nod to GenericBoonenFan who is also a fan of his ;))

Tim Wellens : Normally, I like cobble or cyclocross riders but I’ll make a happy exception for Tim. If only because he’s a “rainman” who cannot stand it (I kinda identify with that), some kind of Charly Gaul (a skin like a tortoise shell!). Then he built a long-lasting friendship with Sean De Bie, Louis Vervaeke & Jasper Stuyven. Their friendship has started in their junior years when Jasper World Champion was in Moscow 2009 and the latter racing for another team has no impact on their ties. They rented flats together in Southern Spain for several seasons to prepare for it. In 2015 it was in Alora and they made a docu-soap about it “Jonge Benen” (“Young Legs”) which Tim seemed like the main animator of. Tim seems very human. I remember when he made that counter-performance ITT nats (18th). On the show he said he would like to hide somewhere and cry, “eyes starting to sting”. Viewers could not not feel sympathy for him at that moment. Tim comes from a cycling family. Father Leo and uncles – Paul & Johan – have always been pro cyclists and brother Yannick had to stop due to exercise-induced asthma. Leo, Paul & Johan also were farm boy, Leo worked with the tractor a lot. Tim seems like a family guy, before moving to Monaco, he paid daily visits to his now 90-year-old grandma who would always prepare some rice pudding for him, which he doted on. Tim is perfectly bilingual, his mother is Walloon and he’s spoken perfect French since at least age 12. He loves Wallonia and the Ardennes, has bought a land on the top of the Côte de Cherave where he’s used to attacking at the Arrow, only he has now chosen to live in Monaco. Tim’s greatest achievements so far have been made under pouring rain and his win in Zakopane at the 2016 Tour of Poland has got to go down in the history books, for a 70km breakaway including the last 45 of them solo, with a 3’47” lead over the second and 4’38” over the third, teammate Tiesj Benoot. Never has a rider created such huge gap in the 21st century on a race of such status and with a label as hot favourite in his back.

Greg Van Avermaet : I had to place him here because I’ll always remember how much he’s been ridiculed a few years ago by unknowledgeable viewers who would deride the way he supposedly constantly come short in finale, of course he’s had a lot of painful losses but he still won his first classic in 2011 in a brilliant attacking style. If you win such a classic and get some many top10 places afterwards on very different routes (as though only victories mattered), you know that your glory moment will come. Now in 2016, those who formerly mocked him seem impressed with the way he handles his races. I still believe that Van Avermaet is the most versatile and eclectic rider in action today, who can podium Paris-Roubaix or become Olympic champion on a mid-mountainous route: a race for which nobody would ever have bet on him, the main Belgian newspapers did not give Belgian riders more than 20% chance for a medal, we did not just get a medal but the win.
 
Jun 30, 2014
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In no particular order:
Vino
Bettini
Pantani (my first cycling related memories are related to him)
Boonen
Simoni
Mayo
Rasmussen
Georg Totschnig
Kiryienka
The 10th spot goes to 2 great Swiss riders of the past that my father never stops talking about
Beat Breu and Josef Fuchs (Breu mostly because of the 1981 Tre Cime win when Fuchs came 2nd and Fuchs for his whole career, my Father used to be a huge Josef Fuchs fan)
 
Mar 13, 2015
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Fausto Coppi
Miguel Poblet
Freddy Maertens
Francesco Moser
Domingo Perurena
Gianni Bugno
Michele Bartoli
Chava Jimenez
Tom Boonen
Alejandro Valverde
 

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