Tirreno-Adriatico recently posted the following image of its glorious ensemble of star riders whom they have managed to attract to the race:
The palmares of these seven men stand at 2 Milan-Sanremo’s, 2 Paris-Roubaix’s, a Tour of Flanders, a Giro d’Lombardia, 2 Fleche Wallone’s, 4 World Time Trial Championships, 2 World Championships, 3 Tour de France overall victories, 1 Giro d’Italia Overall victory, 3 Vuelta a Espana Overall victories, 10 further podium placings at Grand Tours and a mind boggling number of Tour de France stage wins (38), Giro Stage wins (15) and Vuelta stage wins (16). Oddly, only three of them have actually won Tirreno-Adriatico before – Fabian Cancellara in 2008, when the course wasn’t as hard and he was on his way to steamrollering Milan-sanremo, Cadel Evans in 2011 when he won everything he entered, and Nibali last year. You’d think they would have included Peter Sagan in the picture as well for the complete set of stars, or even Andy Schleck so that they could get another Tour de France win in their, or claim to have a winner of every single monument (Schleck won Liege in 2009), but evidentally Schleck isn’t really flavor of the month.
This got me thinking though. It’s a real possibility that their could be three grand tour winners on the podium in Contador, Evans and Nibali, and you’d get rubbish odds on it being a podium that includes men who have or will win a Grand Tour in the future. So, my thinking went, has there ever been a Tour de France podium comprised purely of former winners, or one where all the riders would eventually go on to win the race? So i went back from 2012 to see what I could find:
Podiums with all previous winners
1989 Tour de France – 4 Previous Titles
1st: Greg Lemond, 2nd Laurent Fignon, 3rd Pedro Delgado
This would appear to be the only Tour were three previous winners have stood on the podium. Lemond had won in 1986 before his hunting accident, Fignon in 1983 and 1984 and Delgado had won in 1988 in somewhat spurious circumstances. The 8 second difference between the top two ultimately is the difference between Lemond’s three and Fignon’s two Tour victories, as Lemond would go on to take another win in 1990, Fignon never seemingly recovered and sadly died of cancer recently. However, he remains the man who won the Tour de France twice, rather than he who lost it by eight seconds.
Podiums with all previous/Future winners
2009 Tour de France – 8 Previous Titles
1st: Alberto Contador, 2nd Andy Schleck, 3rd Lance Armstrong
The slow burning 2009 Tour de France pitted the minds of Armstrong and Contador against one another, and in the end, Contador added a second win instead of Armstrong getting an Eighth. Andy Schleck was between them however, and would win the Tour by default the next year. If we ignore the daft historical revisionism that would wipe most of the winners out if it were applied consistently, this podium must be a close run thing for the highest number of Grand Tours that have been won by it’s occupiers – 13, with 13 Podium places as well, although thinking about it, any podium with Merckx or Hinault on would instantly have 11 and 10 to their name, but it’s certainly up there.
1985 Tour de France – 4 Previous Titles
1st: Bernard Hinault, 2nd Greg Lemond, 3rd Stephen Roche
Bernard Hinault’s 5th win before the interesting 1986 duel with his teammate Lemond was also the year that two future winners got on the podium. Lemond would be winning 3 titles whilst Roche would take a win for the second part of his triple crown in 1987. There are an astounding 15 Grand Tour wins between these three.
1984 Tour de France – 5 Previous Titles
1st: Laurent Fignon, 2nd Bernard Hinault, 3rd Greg Lemond
Fignon and Lemond were on the same team this time, with Lemond sneaking in for the podium. With Fignon’s 1989 Giro triumph and Hinault’s Grand Tour set, these three have 16 Grand Tour wins between them, of which 8 had already been achieved by Hinault, with Fignon the defending Tour champion.
1975 Tour de France – 5 Previous Titles
1st: Bernard Thevenet, 2nd Eddy Merckx, 3rd Lucien Van Impe
Eddy Merckx couldn’t take a 6th Title in 1975, as the second placed man from the year before, Thevenet, took his place. Van Impe, the ‘Eagle of Toldeo’ more famed for his King of the Mountain’s exploits, would win the following year.
1971 Tour de France – 2 Previous Titles
1st: Eddy Merckx 2nd Joop Zoetemelk, 3rd Lucien Van Impe
Merckx had only won a puny two Tour’s by 1971, but would win a third before going on for numbers 4 and 5. Zoetemelk would have to wait 8 years for his 1979 win, although like buses Grand Tour wins came along in two’s for him as he also won the following year’s Vuelta. Van Impe would win in 1976.
1910 Tour de France
1st: Octave Lapize, 2nd Francois Faber, 3rd Gustave Garrigou
Back in the days of the Tour’s ludicrous points competition that decided the race between 1905 and 1912, there was a single podium of men who would win: Lapize won that year obviously, whilst Faber had won in 1909, and Garrigou would win the next year to complete the set.
The Vuelta and Giro no doubt have some examples, although a cursory scan found only one obvious one in recent times:
1999 Giro d’Italia
1st: Ivan Gotti, 2nd Paolo Salvoldelli, 3rd Gilberto Simoni
Salvodelli and Simoni were yet to win, which makes the podium look a bit more sophisticated. It would have looked even better with Pantani on it though…