Considering how many people all around the world are cyclists, it’s remarkable that many more professionals are not household names. As a sport, cycling might not be nearly as glamorous soccer, hockey, basketball, or even motorcycle racing. However, there is just as much dedication and effort needed to remain at the top of your game.
Cycling is one of the most physiologically demanding sports around. Each and every professional cyclist needs to have great endurance, speed, technique and skill to do well.
We’ve gathered some legendary and famous cyclists in history below. The following people are the six most famous bicycle riders in history:
1. Lance Armstrong
At one point in time, Lance Armstrong was the most famous bicycle rider and even a common household name. Nowadays, he is perhaps equal parts famous and infamous. This American former professional road racing cyclist was at the top of his game. He is possibly the most well-known professional cyclist ever.
His story of cancer survival and the subsequent return to form gave him legendary status. From 1999 to 2005, Lance Armstrong was able to claim seven Tour de France victories in a row.
In 2012, his image was destroyed when the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency charged him with using performance-enhancing drugs. Lance Armstrong was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles and is currently banned from competing in all the cycling events, including the Olympics.
Now a cautionary tale, there are some grumblings that doping is so rife throughout the cycling world. Some claimed he was just unlucky to be caught and many out there are also just as guilty. This doesn’t take away from his fall from grace and ongoing ban.
2. Chris Froome
This Kenyan born, British professional cyclist Chris Froome was the winner of the 2013 Tour de France. His career started all the way back in college, where he promptly dropped out to pursue this dream.
He has some early success in his career, although he was noted as being a little inconsistent in his performances. It was then revealed that he was battling the parasitic disease schistosomiasis throughout most of his early career.
After he was able to get his medical condition under control his career was able to soar and reach new heights in no time. As his sudden return to form and victory at the Tour de France came so soon after the Lance Armstrong doping scandal, many had questions.
Thankfully, Chris Froome was cleared following a battery of doping tests. He then went on to be very successful in many other prestigious cycling races around the world including the Tour de Oman and the Tour de Romandie. Even if Chris Froome might not be one of the most famous bicycle riders in history, he is certainly remembered as one of the most dedicated.
3. Eddy Merckx
From Belgium, Eddy Merckx was very interested in bikes from an early age. At the age of sixteen, he began racing and then turned professional at the age of 20. He picked up the nickname “The Cannibal” because he was so relentless in his stream of victories. He became one of the most famous cyclists for his winning streak. After his retirement, he started a brand of bicycles called Eddy Merckx Cycles.
This grew into one of the most well-respected cycle brands in the world. Eddy Merckx has also coached various professional cycling teams after his retirement. It is partially thanks to Eddy that the Tour of Oman and the Tour of Qatar exist. He was instrumental in setting these events up and to this day Eddy Merckx is a co-owner of these bicycle stage races.
4. Elizabeth Mary Deignan
Elizabeth Mary Deignan, also affectionately known as “Lizzie”, is an English professional world champion track and road racing cyclist. In 2015, she was the winner of the 2015 World road race champion and in 2017 won the Commonwealth road race champion too. Deignan is also twice winner of the season-long UCI Women’s Road World Cup.
During the 2012 Summer Olympics, Elizabeth Armitstead took home the silver medal in the road race. Elizabeth Mary Deignan may be one of the most famous female bicycle riders known to the cycling world. Her tenacity and drive to win proved inspirational for many women looking to enter the sport of competitive cycling.
5. Jacques Anquetil
We love it when a famous cyclist gets a nickname. Jacques earned the nickname “Monsieur Chrono”. This was given to him as he was known for beating the clock. He was able to win his first professional race, the Grand Prix de Lugano. He then went on to win the Tour de France 5 times.
He also received many awards throughout his career including The National Order of Merit and The National Order of the Legion of Honour. These honours are some of the highest possible to receive in France. As one of the most famous bicycle riders in history, his legacy will live on to inspire many cyclists for the years to come.
6. Beryl Burton
When it comes to famous cyclists, Beryl Burton’s name has to be included in any reputable list. Beryl dominated English women’s cycling eventually earning herself an OBE (Order of the British Empire). She was a famous cyclist known for setting the world record in the 12 hour time trial and holding onto it for 2 years. In fact, she even exceeded the men’s record!
It was this sheer ability and her love of the sport that earned her a place in the hearts of all cycling enthusiasts the world over.