Grand Tour (cycling)
In road bicycle racing, a Grand Tour refers to one of the three major European professional cycling stage races: Tour de France, Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a España. Collectively they are termed the Grand Tours, and all three races are similar in format being multi-week races with daily stages. They have a special status in the UCI regulations: more points for the UCI World Tour are distributed in Grand Tours than in other races, and they are the only stage races allowed to last longer than 14 days.
The Tour de France is the oldest and most prestigious of all three, and also the world's most famous cycling race. The Giro d'Italia is the second most important and has occasionally been as popular as the Tour (late '40s, '50s, and early '70s). While the Tour de France has long been a household sporting name around the globe, known even to those not interested in cycling, the other two European Grand Tours are relatively unknown outside the continent, where they are familiar only to cycling enthusiasts.
In their current form, the Grand Tours are held over three consecutive weeks and typically include two "rest" days near the end of the first and second week. The stages are a mix of long massed start races (sometimes including mountain and hill climbs and descents; others are flat stages favoring those with a sprint finish), as well as individual and team time trials and non-competitive exhibition and rest days. Unlike most one-day races, stages in the Grand Tours are generally under 200 kilometers in length.
Controversy often surrounds which teams are invited to the event. Typically, the Union Cycliste Internationale (International Cycling Union) prefers top-rated professional teams to enter, while operators of the Grand Tours often want teams based in their country or those unlikely to cause controversy. From 2005 to 2007, organisers had to accept all ProTour teams, leaving only two wildcard teams per Tour. However, the Unibet team, a ProTour team normally guaranteed entry, was banned from the three Grand Tours due to gambling advertising laws. In 2008, following numerous doping scandals, some teams were refused entry to the Grand Tours: Astana did not compete at the 2008 Tour de France and Team Columbia did not compete at the 2008 Vuelta a España. Since 2011, under the UCI World Tour rules, all ProTour teams are guaranteed a place in all three events, and obliged to participate.
The prizes include the individual General classification, the team classification, the King of the Mountains, the points classification, and often the best young rider classification, in addition to other less known classifications. The most contested ones are the individual general classification (Maillot jaune -yellow jersey- in the Tour de France, Maglia rosa -pink jersey- in the Giro d'Italia, and Jersey rojo -red jersey- in the Vuelta a España, ; king of the mountains classification (Maillot à pois rouges -polka dot jersey- in the Tour, Maglia Azzurra -blue jersey- in the Giro, and Jersey de puntos azules -blue polka dots jersey- in the Vuelta); and points classification (Maillot vert -green jersey- in the Tour, Maglia Rosso Passione -red jersey- in the Giro, and Jersey verde -green jersey- in the Vuelta). Only three riders have won all three in the same race: Eddy Merckx in the 1968 Giro d'Italia and 1969 Tour de France, Tony Rominger in the 1993 Vuelta a España and Laurent Jalabert in the 1995 Vuelta a España.
It is rare for cyclists to ride all grand tours in the same year; in 2004, 474 cyclists started in at least one of the grand tours, 68 of them rode two Grand Tours and only two cyclists started in all three grand tours. It is not unusual for sprinters and their leadout men, who do not expect to complete each race, to start each of the Grand Tours and aim for stage wins before the most difficult stages occur. Alessandro Petacchi and Mark Cavendish started all three Grand Tours in 2010 and 2011, respectively, as did some of their preferred support riders. For both riders in both years, only the Tour de France was ridden to its conclusion.
Over the years, 32 riders have completed all three Grand Tours in one year. Marino Lejarreta has done it four times, Bernardo Ruiz three times, Eduardo Chozas and Carlos Sastre twice each, and 28 more riders have achieved the feat once.
UCI rules 
For the UCI World Tour, more points are given in grand tours than in other races; the winner of the Tour de France receives 200 points, and the winners of the Giro and Vuelta receive 170 points, while other races give 100 points at most. The grand tours have a special status for the length: they are allowed to last between 15 and 23 days.
Grand Tour winners 
Winners of all three Grand Tours 
No cyclist has ever won all three Grand Tour events in the same year. Only two cyclists have placed in the top ten at all three Grand Tours in the same year: Geminiani in 1955 and Nencini in 1957.
Only five cyclists have won all three of the Grand Tours during their career:
- Jacques Anquetil (FRA): 5 Tours (1957, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964), 2 Giro (1960, 1964), 1 Vuelta (1963).
- Alberto Contador (ESP): 2 Tours (2007, 2009), 1 Giro (2008), 2 Vueltas (2008, 2012)
- Felice Gimondi (ITA): 1 Tour (1965), 3 Giro (1967, 1969, 1976), 1 Vuelta (1968)
- Bernard Hinault (FRA): 5 Tours (1978, 1979, 1981, 1982, 1985), 3 Giro (1980, 1982, 1985), 2 Vueltas (1978, 1983)
- Eddy Merckx (BEL): 5 Tours (1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1974), 5 Giro (1968, 1970, 1972, 1973, 1974), 1 Vuelta (1973)
Only three cyclists have won stages in all three of the Grand Tours in the same year:
Podiums on all three Grands Tours 
Thirteen cyclists have reached the podium on all the three Grand Tours along their career:
|Jacques Anquetil (FRA)||6||6||1||13|
|Bernard Hinault (FRA)||7||3||2||12|
|Eddy Merckx (BEL)||6||5||1||12|
|Felice Gimondi (ITA)||2||9||1||12|
|Miguel Induráin (ESP)||5||3||1||9|
|Laurent Fignon (FRA)||3||2||1||6|
|Carlos Sastre (ESP)||2||1||3||6|
|Tony Rominger (SUI)||1||1||4||6|
|Alberto Contador (ESP)||2||1||2||5|
|Denis Menchov (RUS)||2||1||2||5|
|Vincenzo Nibali (ITA)||1||2||1||4|
|Jose Manuel Fuente (ESP)||1||1||2||4|
|Herman Van Springel (BEL)||1||1||1||3|
Winners of two Grand Tours in a year 
Nine riders have achieved a double by winning two grand tours in the same year.
Seven cyclists have won the Tour and the Giro in the same year:
- Fausto Coppi (ITA): 1949, 1952
- Jacques Anquetil (FRA): 1964
- Eddy Merckx (BEL): 1970, 1972, 1974
- Bernard Hinault (FRA): 1982, 1985
- Stephen Roche (IRL): 1987
- Miguel Indurain (ESP): 1992, 1993
- Marco Pantani (ITA): 1998
The Tour/Vuelta double has been achieved by two cyclists:
The Giro/Vuelta double has been achieved by three cyclists:
Of the above nine, Pantani, Roche and Battaglin's doubles were their only Grand Tour victories in their careers.
Most Grand Tour wins 
|Name||Total Wins||Tour de France||Giro d'Italia||Vuelta a España|
|Eddy Merckx (BEL)||11||5 (1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1974)||5 (1968, 1970, 1972, 1973, 1974)||1 (1973)|
|Bernard Hinault (FRA)||10||5 (1978, 1979, 1981, 1982, 1985)||3 (1980, 1982, 1985)||2 (1978, 1983)|
|Jacques Anquetil (FRA)||8||5 (1957, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964)||2 (1960, 1964)||1 (1963)|
|Miguel Indurain (ESP)||7||5 (1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995)||2 (1992, 1993)||0|
|Fausto Coppi (ITA)||7||2 (1949, 1952)||5 (1940, 1947, 1949, 1952, 1953)||0|
Most Grand Tour podiums 
Most Mountain Jerseys 
- 9: Federico Bahamontes – Spain
- 9: Gino Bartali – Italy
- 8: Lucien Van Impe – Belgium
Most Points Jerseys 
- 9: Erik Zabel – Germany
- 8: Sean Kelly – Ireland
- 7: Laurent Jalabert – France
- 6: Eddy Merckx – Belgium
- 5: Djamolidine Abdoujaparov – Uzbekistan
Winning the points classification in each of the three Grand Tours during a cyclist's career is a significant accomplishment.
The Tour/Giro/Vuelta triple has been achieved by four riders – Djamolidine Abdoujaparov, Laurent Jalabert, Eddy Merckx and Alessandro Petacchi.
Most Grand Tour stage wins 
Grand Tour finishers 
Only 32 riders have finished all three Grand Tours in one season. Marino Lejarreta did it four times between 1987 and 1991, Bernardo Ruiz achieved it in three different years, and two other riders have completed the accomplishment twice.
The rider with most participations on Grand Tours is Eduardo Chozas, with 27 (6 Tours, 7 Giros and 14 Vueltas). He is also the rider which has finished most Grand Tours, with 26: the only Grand Tour he could not finish was the Vuelta a España 1984 (he retired on the last stage).
- "UCI Cycling regulations". p. 56. Retrieved 2012-07-20.
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- The Tour, the Giro and the Road World Cycling Championship make up the Triple Crown of Cycling.
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