Triple Crown of Cycling

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The Triple Crown of Cycling is a term used in road bicycle racing to denote the achievement of winning three major titles in the same season, usually but not always the Giro d'Italia, the Tour de France and the UCI World Road Race Championship.

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It is considered by many fans of the sport to be the greatest 'single' achievement in cycling. Although mostly it means winning the Giro d'Italia, the Tour de France and the Road World Cycling Championship in one calendar year, [1] occasionally a broader definition is also seen where the victory in the Giro d'Italia can be exchanged for the Vuelta a España; this alternative has gained traction as the Vuelta, historically the least prestigious Grand Tour, has gained in reputation and importance. [2] A hat-trick which did not include the Tour de France and the World title would not generally be considered as the Triple Crown.

So far, the triple crown of cycling (in both the narrower and the broader definition) has been achieved by only two cyclists, Eddy Merckx and Stephen Roche. Requiring a cyclist who is excellent as both a general classification rider, and a classics racer, it is considered the hardest achievement professional road bicycle racing in the same year. [3]

Despite the prestige of the achievement, the Triple Crown of cycling is not an official title, and there is no physical award given for its accomplishment.

Triple crowns won

The Triple Crown has only been achieved twice (both times by winning Giro/Tour/Worlds): [1]

RiderYearRaces
Flag of Belgium (civil).svg  Eddy Merckx  (BEL)1974 Tour + Giro + WC
Flag of Ireland.svg  Stephen Roche  (IRL)1987 Tour + Giro + WC

Near wins

Some cyclists have been close to winning the triple crown of cycling, winning two of the three requirements. Among those who came close are Italian Fausto Coppi, Frenchman Bernard Hinault, and later Spaniard Miguel Indurain, who finished second in the World Championships in 1993.

Winning two grand tours in one year

Coppi was the first rider in the history of the sport to win the Giro d'Italia and the Tour de France in the same year which he did twice in 1949 and 1952. At the World road race championships in 1949 Coppi came third behind Rik Van Steenbergen of Belgium and Ferdi Kübler of Switzerland. Merckx was the first rider to win the triple crown but he had already come close to winning it in 1972 when he won both the Tour and the Giro, coming fourth in the World road race. After his disappointment, Merckx broke the world hour record several weeks later.

Ireland's Stephen Roche won the Giro and Tour in 1987. Later that year, with victory at the World road race championship in Villach in Austria, Roche became only the second to win the Triple Crown of Cycling.

Indurain won the Giro-Tour double in both 1992 and 1993 and in both years he was very active in the World Road Race. In 1992 he finished sixth but in 1993 Indurain was very close to winning the Triple crown when he finished second behind Lance Armstrong.

CyclistYearGrand Tours wonResult in World Championship
Flag of Italy.svg  Fausto Coppi  (ITA)1949 Tour + Giro 3rd place
Flag of Italy.svg  Fausto Coppi  (ITA)1952 Tour + Giro DNE
Flag of France.svg  Jacques Anquetil  (FRA)1963 Tour + Vuelta 14th place [4]
Flag of France.svg  Jacques Anquetil  (FRA)1964 Tour + Giro 7th place [5]
Flag of Belgium (civil).svg  Eddy Merckx  (BEL)1970 Tour + Giro 29th place [6]
Flag of Belgium (civil).svg  Eddy Merckx  (BEL)1972 Tour + Giro 4th place [7]
Flag of Belgium (civil).svg  Eddy Merckx  (BEL)1973 Giro + Vuelta 4th place [8]
Flag of France.svg  Bernard Hinault  (FRA)1978 Tour + Vuelta 5th place [9]
Flag of Italy.svg  Giovanni Battaglin  (ITA)1981 Giro + Vuelta 26th place [10]
Flag of France.svg  Bernard Hinault  (FRA)1982 Tour + Giro DNF
Flag of France.svg  Bernard Hinault  (FRA)1985 Tour + Giro DNF
Flag of Spain.svg  Miguel Indurain  (ESP)1992 Tour + Giro 6th place
Flag of Spain.svg  Miguel Indurain  (ESP)1993 Tour + Giro 2nd place
Flag of Italy.svg  Marco Pantani  (ITA)1998 Tour + Giro DNE [11]
Flag of Spain.svg  Alberto Contador  (ESP)2008 Giro + Vuelta DNF [12]
Flag of the United Kingdom.svg  Chris Froome  (GBR)2017 Tour + Vuelta DNE

Winning one grand tour and world championship in one year

Hinault was aiming for winning the triple crown during the 1980 season. That year he won the 1980 Giro d'Italia before going on to the 1980 Tour de France. However, during the Tour, Hinault suffered from knee injury and despite winning three stages, he left the race while leading the general classification. Several weeks later he became world champion in Salanches. In the table below are the results in other grand tours of cyclists who won the world championship and a grand tour in one year. DNF (did not finish) indicates that the cyclist started the race, but did not finish; DNE (did not enter) indicates that the cyclist did not enter the race.

CyclistYearGrand tour wonResult in other grand tours
Flag of Italy (1861-1946).svg  Alfredo Binda  (ITA)1927 Giro Tour: DNEVuelta: NA [13]
Flag of France.svg  Georges Speicher  (FRA)1933 Tour Giro: DNEVuelta: NA [13]
Flag of Italy.svg  Fausto Coppi  (ITA)1953 Giro Tour: DNEVuelta: NA [13]
Flag of France.svg  Louison Bobet  (FRA)1954 Tour Giro: DNEVuelta: NA [13]
Flag of Italy.svg  Ercole Baldini  (ITA)1958 Giro Tour: DNEVuelta: DNE
Flag of Belgium (civil).svg  Eddy Merckx  (BEL)1971 Tour Giro: DNEVuelta: DNE
Flag of France.svg  Bernard Hinault  (FRA)1980 Giro Tour: DNFVuelta: DNE
Flag of the United States.svg  Greg LeMond  (USA)1989 Tour Giro: 39th placeVuelta: DNE

Other definitions

A Career Triple Crown

Only seven riders have won the equivalent of a career Triple Crown, meaning two different grand tours and a Gold in the world championship road race. In addition to Merckx and Roche who won the triple crown in a single season they are Coppi, Janssen, Gimondi, Hinault and Zoetemelk.

Riders who have won at least two gold medals and three grand tours include Merckx, Greg LeMond and Alfredo Binda.

Winning all three grand tours in a career

No rider has ever won all three grand tours in a single calendar year although Chris Froome and Jacques Anquetil won all three grand tours in just over nine months spanning two calendar years. [14]

Winning all three grand tours (Tour de France, Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a España ) in a career is sometimes called a grand tour career triple crown, although more usually it would be described as a career grand slam. [15]

Only seven riders have achieved this feat, and only one, Eddy Merckx has achieved both a classic Triple Crown and a career clean sweep of Grand Tour titles (He also achieved a career clean sweep of Monument classics, the 5 most prestigious one-day classic races).

Only Bernard Hinault and Alberto Contador have achieved multiple career grand tour triple crowns, both having won each race at least twice.

In bold the win that achieved a grand tour career triple crown.

Jersey rainbow.svg designates a World Championship winner.

Cyclist Tour de France wins Giro d'Italia wins Vuelta a España wins
Flag of France.svg  Jacques Anquetil  (FRA) 1957, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964 1960, 1964 1963
Flag of Italy.svg  Felice Gimondi  (ITA) Jersey rainbow.svg 1965 1967, 1969, 1976 1968
Flag of Belgium (civil).svg  Eddy Merckx  (BEL) Jersey rainbow.svg 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1974 1968, 1970, 1972, 1973, 1974 1973
Flag of France.svg  Bernard Hinault  (FRA) Jersey rainbow.svg 1978, 1979, 1981, 1982, 1985 1980 , 1982, 1985 1978, 1983
Flag of Spain.svg  Alberto Contador  (ESP) 2007, 2009 2008, 2015 2008 , 2012, 2014
Flag of Italy.svg  Vincenzo Nibali  (ITA) 2014 2013, 2016 2010
Flag of the United Kingdom.svg  Chris Froome  (GBR) 2013, 2015, 2016, 2017 2018 2011, 2017

Winning all three grand tours in one year

The definition of Triple Crown of Cycling can also mean winning all three Grand Tours in the same year. [16] As of 2021, this has not been achieved. Only 39 times has a cyclist finished all three grand tours in one year, and of these 39 only Raphaël Géminiani (in 1955) and Gastone Nencini (in 1957) managed to finish in the top ten in each tour. [17] In 2016, Alejandro Valverde was close to accomplishing the same feat – he finished 3rd in the Giro d'Italia, 6th in the Tour de France, and was in the top three after the first half of the Vuelta of Spain, but lost 11 minutes in the 14th stage before recovering to finish in 12th place in overall standings, less than 2 minutes behind 10th place.

In 2010, Alberto Contador's new team manager Bjarne Riis claimed that Contador could win all three grand tours in the same year, but his main rival Andy Schleck said it would be impossible. [18]

''All the jerseys''

While no rider has ever won all three grand tours in a single calendar year, three riders have won the three Grand tours consecutively across two seasons, thus holding ''all the jerseys'' at one time.

Eddy Merckx won four consecutive grand tours in 1972–1973: Giro 1972, Tour 1972, Vuelta 1973, and Giro 1973.

Bernard Hinault won three consecutive grand tours in 1982–1983: Giro 1982, Tour 1982, and Vuelta 1983.

Chris Froome won three consecutive grand tours in 2017–2018: Tour 2017, Vuelta 2017 and Giro 2018 before finishing 3rd in Tour 2018.

Completing all three grand tours in one year

Cyclists who have completed all three grand tours in the same year

As of 2016, 39 riders completed all three grand tours in the same year:

List of riders and results

IDYearRiderTourGiroVuelta
11955 Raphaël Géminiani (Fra)
21955 Louis Caput (Fra)54°68°21°
31955 Bernardo Ruiz (Esp)22°28°14°
41956 Arrigo Padovan (Ita)26°12°19°
51956 José Serra (Esp)81°26°
61956 Bernardo Ruiz (Esp)70°38°31°
71957 Gastone Nencini (Ita)
81957 Mario Baroni (Ita)53°74°46°
91957 Bernardo Ruiz (Esp)24°55°
101958 Pierino Baffi (Ita)63°23°26°
111958 Federico Bahamontès (Esp)17°
121971 José Manuel Fuente (Esp)72°39°26°
131971 José Luis Uribezubia (Esp)49°29°36°
141985 Philippe Poissonnier (Fra)90°86°66°
151987 Marino Lejarreta (Esp)10°26°
161988 Luis Javier Lukin (Esp)82°32°26°
171989 Marino Lejarreta (Esp)10°20°
181990 Eduardo Chozas (Esp)11°33°
191990 Marino Lejarreta (Esp)26°
201991 Eduardo Chozas (Esp)11°10°11°
211991 Iñaki Gastón (Esp)61°23°14°
221991 Marco Giovannetti (Ita)30°18°
231991 Alberto Leanizbarrutia (Esp)39°64°40°
241991 Marino Lejarreta (Esp)53°
251991 Vladimir Pulnikov (Ukr)88°11°26°
261991 Valerio Tebaldi (Ita)89°47°87°
271992 Guido Bontempi (Ita)75°40°62°
281992 Neil Stephens (Aus)74°57°66°
291999 Mariano Piccoli (Ita)50°38°58°
302001 Jon Odriozola (Esp)69°59°83°
312005 Giovanni Lombardi (Ita)118°88°115°
322006 Carlos Sastre (Esp)43°
332007 Mario Aerts (Bel)70°20°27°
342008 Marzio Bruseghin (Ita)26°10°
352008 Erik Zabel (Ger)42°80°49°
362009 Julian Dean (Nzl)121°136°132°
372010 Carlos Sastre (Esp)18°
382011 Sebastian Lang (Ger)111°55°76°
392012 Adam Hansen (Aus)81°94°123°
402013 Adam Hansen (Aus)72°72°60°
412014 Adam Hansen (Aus)64°73°53°
422015 Adam Hansen (Aus)77°114°55°
432015 Sylvain Chavanel (Fra)36°54°47°
442016 Alejandro Valverde (Esp)12°
452016 Adam Hansen (Aus)68°100°110°
462017 Adam Hansen (Aus)93°113°95°
472019 Thomas De Gendt (Bel)51°60°56°

Winning world titles in three disciplines

After Marianne Vos had won world titles in road race (2006), cyclo-cross (2006) and track points race (2008), she was said to have won the triple crown of cycling. [19] In 2014, Pauline Ferrand-Prévot won the World Championship road race and followed this in 2015 with the world championships in cross-country mountain biking and cyclocross, which meant she held world titles in three cycling disciplines simultaneously. [20]

Triple Crown of Track Cycling

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  14. clarification needed, Froome won three Grand Tours in a row winning the 2017 Tour, 2017 Vuelta and 2018 Giro, in under one year, but Anquetil does not seem to have done this. Anquetil did win back to back Grand Tour Doubles, but not all three in a row. He won the 1963 Vuelta the 1963 Tour and 1964 Giro but by the time he won the Giro, Raymond Poulidor was the new reigning Vuelta champ and it would have been about or just over one year between victories in the 63 Vuelta and 64 Giro
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