Tour De France All-Time Top 25 Riders (No. 20-16)
After a pretty shocking numbers 25-21, we are in for more surprises in the next five. It is important to understand this list is the top 25 riders, not the top 25 winners of the Tour. And with that in mind, riders who seemed to dominate in their victories do not necessarily dominate when it comes to the overall formula as was evident with Contador placing where he did.
So what surprises are in order for the next five?
It wont take long to learn the first, and with that we are off...
20. François Faber
Fabers 19 stage victories along with three podiums including a victory are enough to put him firmly in the top 20.
If not for the outbreak of WWI and his entry into the French Foreign Legion his palmares could have been much different.
Reports have him being killed in 1915 while carrying an injured colleague back from no-mans land during the battle of Artois.
19. Antonin Magne
Another of our early Tour Heroes, Antonin Magne overcame crashes and repeated attacks from the Italian and Belgian leaders and has the distinction of bein the first Individual Time Trial winner in Tour History.
Two Yellow Jerseys and a pair of podium finishes bookending his victories are complimented by 10 stage wins.
18. Richard Virenque
A shocking position above two three time tour winners?
Virenque won seven polka dot jerseys between 1994 and 2004, and along with those, won seven stages with mountain top finishes, including wins on Ventoux and Luz Ardiden.
Virenque is not without controversy, as are many of the others on this list. He was forced to abandon, along with his team in 1998 and later admitted to having doped, however his words were twisted into "à l'insu de mon plein gré" ("willingly but without knowing") and became a part of French culture.
After serving a ban, he came back to the Tour to win another two polka dot jerseys.
Virenque is a controversial figure in both Tour History and amongst cycling fans. The French adore him, and many Americans saw him as an antihero.
Regardless, his Seven Polka Dot Jerseys and Two podium finishes land him squarely in the top 20.
17. Greg Lemond
23 points land LeMond in 20th position on this list.
LeMond finished on the podium in each of his first 5 Tours De France, but is best remembered for the 8 second victory over Laurent Fignon in 1989. However it was his battle with Bernard Hinault in 1986 that truly defined him as a Champion.
After agreeing to stop racing and let Hinault catch up when LeMond was the leader on the road, the promise to repay the favor was all but ignored by a defiant Hinault. It was with a split team that LeMond won his first Tour and if not for a hunting accident (his second) he may have gone on a run like Armstrong's.
Today LeMond is an anti doping crusader and his position has left him on the outside looking in when it comes to American cycling, a position which could be changing...and the subject of a future article on his place in American Cycling History.
# 16 Gino Bartoli
Gino Bartali won tours in 1938 and 1948, a decade apart, and one can only wonder what would have been his record if not for a six-year break for the Second World War.
Like Coppi, he dominated in his two victories and left no doubt as to who the victor would be, and was the only rider within ten minutes of Coppi in his first victory.
Bartali ended his career with 12 stage victories...