LeMond and Fignon, what could have been the greatest rivalry in Tour History
Last July I compiled my first top 25 Tour Riders list, and one of the issues I had with it was where to put the top Stage Racer of the past few years Alberto Contidor.
How could I not let his Vuelta and Giro victories influence my ranking?
How was he so far down the list of the greatest Tour de France riders?
Mind you this was not a Greatest Grand Tour riders list, it was a Tour de France list, and on that merit alone, he was not worthy of a top ten ranking.
Similarly I would not rank Armstrong (drugs or no drugs) in the top ten of all-time riders, but you can not discount his 8 Podiums in the Tour.
So, we are back to the top 25 and there are some major changes. This list is vastly different and is scored on Wins, Podiums, Jerseys and Stage Wins.
So where does Contador rank this time around???
First up, numbers 25-21.
George Hincapie ties the record for tours started and that alone should get him on the list, but it didnt.
and many other great riders of the past century...
The Cannibal won more thages than anyone else in Tour History
When I decided to rework this list, I wanted it to be without prejudice. So it is based on facts and records, not who should have, could have, would have won had they not (insert excuse).
A rider had to win 10 or more stages for there to be value here, except for the multiple Tour winners, and those got credit for their wins, even if it did not meet the 10 win minimum.
Alberto Contador may one day be near the top of this list, but not this year.
With just 4 stage victories and 20 points total in the calculation he barely makes the list and is the lowest of the 4 riders with 3 Tour wins.
Contador has won 7 Consecutive Grand Tours, but with two of his wins coming by less than a minute, he has yet to be a truly dominant Champion.
Only time will tell if Contador rises the ranks, a win this year would move him up 10 places.
Ottavio Bottecchia won the Tour de France twice and finished second in his first attempt.
In the 1924 Tour, Ottavio wore the yellow jersey from start to finish, along with four stage wins.
After abandoning the 1926 Tour in a rain storm, Ottavio left a broken rider and was never the same.
In 1927, Bottecchia was found along a road in a Vineyard with multiple fractures, including one to his skull, and after his last rights, was taken to hospital, where he died 12 days later.
The death was ruled accidental, but many questions remain...
Bottecchia's name would play a role in the 1989 Tour, when Greg Le Mond rode a Bottecchia to victory over Laurent Fignon by eight seconds.
The late Laurent Fignon
All too many remember our # 23 rider as the guy who lost to Greg LeMond by a scant 8 seconds in the 1989 Tour.
Few remember it was his two wins in the early 80's that propelled LeMond's transfer to the LaVie Claire team of Bernard Hinault in 1985.
Fignon won both the 83 and 84 Tours and dominanted Hinault in the latter, with a young LeMond winning the Young Riders Jersey in support of Fignon.
If not for injury and an amazing comeback by LeMond, Fignon would be far higher on this list.
Fausto Coppi "Il Campionissimo" won both the polka dot and yellow jerseys in 1949 and 1952.
Though only entered in three Tours, Coppi made the most of his attempts and won his first Tour de France over Bartali by 10 minutes and nearly a half hour over everyone else.
In his second victory, he was so far ahead the organizer had to double the prizes for lower placings to keep the riders interested. He won that one by 28 and a half minutes!
While Fausto dominated in his victories, his limited number of races drops him back outside the top 20.
Jean Alavoine won an amazing 17 stages in the Tour de France and wore the yellow jersey for five days.
While he never won a Tour, he finished second twice and third three times.
His stage victories places him eighth for total stages won, but the truly amazing thing is the 14-year spread between his first and last stage victories.
Another rider whose career was limited by the four years from 1915-1918 in which the Tour was interrupted by WWI, Alavoine still managed 1.7 victories a year average for his Tours.
In the 1922 Tour, he won stages 5-6-7 at the age of 34 and led until the 11th stage, when a mechanical issue dropped him 37 minutes back. He eventually finished second.
Check back tomorrow for the next five, and more than a few surprises.