Triple Crowns, Grand Tour Doubles, and Classic Defences: The Many Feats of ProCycling

The ‘Triple Crown’ of cycling has only been achieved twice: Once by Eddy Merckx (who else?) in 1974 and by Stephen Roche in 1987. This feat of winning the Giro, the Tour and the World Championships is considered the pinnacle of what is possible in cycling, yet it is now considered almost impossible to attempt even the Grand Tour double required to set it off, let alone a Grand Tour and the worlds. So, on that basis, the peloton needs other challenges, more feats that they can attempt to find their niche in history. So what can they do?

The Triple Crown

Eddy Merckx – 1974: Giro, Tour, Worlds

Stephen Roche – 1987: Giro, Tour, Worlds

The Grand Tour Double

Winning two Grand Tours in a year is now seen as very hard – only one man has done it in the last 10 years, and he was only one of two men who even attempted it. This was of course Alberto Contador, who won the Giro and Vuelta in 2008, and whilst he tried the feat again in 2011, he was foiled by the mountain stages of the Tour, as well as CAS, who wiped away his earlier Giro triumph. Ivan Basso was going for it in 2006, but having, he swears, won the Giro clean by a mere 10 minutes, he was unceremoniously booted out of the Tour. Still, a Giro-Vuelta double has been seen as a possibilty for Bradley Wiggins, although that would near certainly mean missing the Tour, and I can’t see the defending champion not turning up for the centenary edition. For anyone to do the double would be to join a group of just 8 men in history to have managed it: surely someone else will go for it in the next decade?

Fausto Coppi (Giro/Tour  1949, 1952)

Jacques Anquetil (Vuelta/Tour 1963, Giro/Tour 1964)

Eddy Merckx (Tour/Giro 1970, 1972, Giro/Vuelta 1973)

Bernard Hinault (Tour/Vuelta, 1978, Giro/Tour, 1982, 1985)

Giovanni Battaglin (Giro/Vuelta, 1981)

Miguel Indurain (Giro/Tour, 1992, 1993)

Marco Pantani (Giro/Tour, 1998)

Alberto Contador (Giro/Vuelta, 2008)

Career Grand Tour Slam

Contador thought about the Year Slam, but decided it isnt possible.

An even more exclusive club is that of those who have won all three Grand Tours in their careers. This is arguably easier then the double, as you can spread the races across your career. This of course leaves a speed record available, one currenly held by Alberto Contador, who won the Tour in July 2007 and had the Giro and Vuelta wrapped up by September 2008, just 14 months later. The same feat took Anquetil 6 years, so there’s no rush. Only five have done this one.

Jacques Anquetil (Tour 1957, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, Giro 1960, 1964, Vuelta 1963)

Felice Gimondi (Tour 1965, Giro 1967, 1969, 1976)

Eddy Merckx (Tour 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1974, Giro 1968, 1970, 1972, 1973, 1974, Vuelta 1973)

Bernard Hinault (Tour 1978, 1979, 1981, 1982, 1985, Giro 1980, 1982, 1985, Vuelta 1978, 1983)

Alberto Contador (Tour 2007, 2009, Giro 2008, Vuelta 2008, 2010)

Grand Tour Year Slam

No one has even tried this one, its so hard. Winning all three Grand Tours in one year will probably never be done, but it’s nice to dream. Andy Schleck has done it virtually (see the epic ‘Quest for History’ at, but doesnt have a chance in reality, but then who does?

Grand Tour Career Podium Slam

Vincenzo Nibali, the most recent entry to the Podium Club

For a feat that few will remember, but will be immensely impressive all the same due to its rigors, why not try getting on the podium of each Grand Tour in career? An unlucky 13 have managed the feat, of which 5 are obviously the winners of all three Grand Tours. Of the remainder, only one, Herman van Springel, has never got on the top step of a grand tour podium – everyone else has at least one triumph. The table below includes the victories, if any, as part of the podium count – thus Contador has 5 wins, and has only ever stood on the podium as a winner, so gets  5 podiums – they are not additional.

Jacques Anquetil (8GT wins, 13 podiums)

Felice Gimondi (5 GT wins, 12 podiums)

Eddy Merckx (11 GT wins, 12 podiums)

Bernard Hinault (10 GT wins, 12 podiums)

Alberto Contador (5 GT wins, 5 podiums)

Herman Van Springel (0 GT wins, 3 podiums)

Miguel Indurain (7 GT wins, 9 podiums)

Laurent Fignon (3 GT wins, 6 podiums)

Tony Rominger (4 GT wins, 6 podiums)

Vincenzo Nibali (1 GT win, 4 podiums)

Carlos Sastre (1 GT win, 6 podiums)

Jose Manuel Fuente (1 GT win, 4 podiums)

Denis Menchov (3 GT wins, 5 podiums)

Cobbled Classics Double

Tom Boonen is also the most successful cobbled classics rider ever, with 7 wins.

It’s not all about the Grand Tour men though – the classics men have targets as well. The most popular is probably the Flanders-Roubaix double, which requires ‘only’ that form is held for a week in April. Easy eh? Only 10 have managed it though. Special kudos also goes to Tom Boonen, the only man to have done the double-double. To feel extra special, win and don’t be Belgian – only Suter and Cancellara, who are both Swiss, have broken the Belgian hegemony.

Henri Suter (1923)

Romain Gijssels (1932)

Gaston Rebry (1934)

Raymond Impanis (1954)

Fred De Bruyne (1957)

Rik Van Looy (1962)

Roger de Vlaeminck (1977)

Peter Van Petegem (2003)

Tom Boonen (2005, 2012)

Fabian Cancellara (2010)

The Monument Career Grand Slam

A seventh win for Merckx at San-Remo capped off a career that saw him win 19 Monuments

Winning all five mounments (Milan San-Remo, Flanders, Roubaix, Liege and Lombardy) is a feat that requires a complete rider – endurance and sprinting ability for San Remo, power for the cobbled climbs of Flanders, hard headedness to get across the Roubaix pave, climbing ability for Liege and Lombardy. Such a mix is rare, which is why just three men have managed: Merckx, obviously, Rik Van Looy and Roger de Vlaeminck. Of them, only Merckx won each one more than once. Sean Kelly famously missed out by finishing 2nd in Flanders 3 times, having won the rest. Philippe Gilbert and Fabian Cancellara have both claimed to be chasing the goal, although with both now on the wrong side of 30, Gilbert stuck on the cobbles and Cancellara seemingly unwilling to neglect the cobbles, time is running out.

Eddy Merckx

Rik Van Looy

Roger de Vlaeminck

The Ardenne Classics Slam

Gilbert rounds off his 2011 Ardenne week.

The three Ardenne Classics of Amstel Gold, Fleche Wallone and Liege-Bastonge-Liege are another Triple to be taken seriously. Six riders have won all three in their careers, but only two have done all three in the same year, and given that question marks follow Davide Rebellin and put an asterisk next to his 2004 performance, Gilbert’s 2011 show may be the only ‘true’ display we can trust (the career winners are Merckx, Danilo Di Luca, Bernard Hinault and Michele Bartoli). The races are now about 8 days apart, meaning form has to held for a week, and the uphill finishes argually make more likely to feature one winner then if one was flattened out as it is proposed Amstel will be.

Davide Rebellin (2004)

Philippe Gilbertt (2011)

The Cobbled Classics Treble

Rik Van Looy

Adding another race to Flanders and Roubaix, such as Ghent-Whevelgem as the third cobbled classic, especially with its new time slot the week before Flanders rather then in the middle, makes up another triple that has been achieved just twice. Boonen and Van Looy again wrack up more record for this one.

Rik Van Looy (1962)

Tom Boonen (2012)

The Grand Tour Threepeat

Tony Rominger, who has the unique honour of winning the Vuelta 3 times in a row.

This is my own invention, based on the idea that defending a title is quite common, but a third Grand Tour in a row? That’s a tricky one. Just eight have managed it, with Merckx the only one to do it twice, as we can see:

Giro: Carlo Galetti (1910-12 – 1912 was a team competition, but Galetti was on the winning team, Atala), Alfredo Binda (1927-29), Eddy Merckx (1972-74)

Tour: Louison Bobet (1953-55), Jacques Anquetil (1961-63+64), Eddy Merckx (1969-71+72), Miguel Indurain (1991-93+94-95), Lance Armstrong (1999-2001+2002-05)

Vuelta: Tony Rominger (1992-94)

The Mounment Threepeat

Coppi not only defended his Tour of Lombardy title twice, but three times – a unique achievement.

What about for the classics men? Three momuments in a row is even rarer a feat to achieve, as the races arguably have more chance of being chaotic, as well as having a greater number of contenders. But a few have managed:

Milan San-Remo: Never achieved (Defended by Erik Zabel [1997-98, 2000-01], Laurent Fignon [1988-89], Roger de Vlaeminck [1978-79], Eddy Merckx [1966-67, 1971-72, 1975-76], Loretto Petrucci [1952-53], Fausto Coppi [1948-49], Gino Bartali [1939-40], Constante Giradengo (1925-26].

Tour of Flanders: The triple defence has been managed just once, by Fiorenzo Magni [1949-51] (Defended by Romain Gijssels [1931-32], Achiel Buysse [1940-41], Eric Leman [1972-73], Tom Boonen [2005-06], Stijn Devolder [2008-09]

Paris-Roubaix:  Managed just twice, by two men, although the race seems easier to defend. Octave Lapize [1909-11] , Francesco Moser [1978-80] (Defended by Maurice Garin [1897-98], Lucien Lesna [1901-02], Hippolyte Aucouturier [1903-04], Gaston Rebry [1934-35], Georges Claes [1946-47], Rik Van Looy [1961-62], Roger De Vlaeminck [1974-75], Gilbert Duclos-Lassalle [1992-93], Tom Boonen [2008-09]

Liege-Bastonge-Liege: Surprisingly, three have managed to threepeat, although it is the oldest classic, and was helped by its first winner taking 3 on the trot. Leon Houa [1892-94], Eddy Merckx [1971-73], Moreno Argentin [1985-87], (Defended by Louis Mottiat [1921-22], Rene Vermandel [1923-24], Ferdi Kubler [1951-52], Fred de Buyne [1958-59], Michele Bartoli [1997-98]

Tour of Lombardy: Two threepeaters, including the only four in a row from Coppi. The race has also seen a large number of defences in recent years. Alfredo Binda [1925-27], Fausto Coppi [1936-38+39] (Defended by Constante Giradengo [1921-22], Giovanni Brunero [1923-24], Gino Bartali [1939-40], Jo de Roo [1962-63], Eddy Merckx [1971-72], Michele Bartoli [2002-03], Paolo Bettini [2005-06], Damiano Cunego [2007-08], Philippe Gilbert [2009-10]

Grand Tour KOM Slam

Federico Bahamantes

Riding all three Grand Tours in a year too easy? Damn right it is, 32 riders have already done that, and unless you want to beat Marino Lejarreta’s 4 times of doing it, it’s a bit old hat. So why not try and win all the King of the Mountains competitions instead? Only two men have done it after all:

Federico Bahamantes

Luis Herrera

Grand Tour Sprinter Slam

The ‘Tashkent Terror’

Maybe you’re a sprinter and quite fancy getting every points jersey from the Grand Tours. Only four men have managed that one:

Djamolidine Abdoujaparov

Laurent Jalabert

Eddy Merckx

Alessandro Petacchi

Grand Tour Stage Year Slam

Pettachi won 15 stages across 3 grand Tours in his 2003 season.

Over 82 riders have won a stage of each grand tour over their careers, but how about one in each…in the same year? Just three men have managed this:

Miguel Poblet (1956)

Pierino Baffi (1958)

Alessandro Pettachi (2003)

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