Triple Crown of Cycling

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The Triple Crown of Cycling is a term used in cycling 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.

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 Grant 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[edit]

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

Rider Year Races
 Eddy Merckx (BEL) 1974 Tour + Giro + WC
 Stephen Roche (IRL) 1987 Tour + Giro + WC

Near wins[edit]

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[edit]

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.

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.

Cyclist Year Grand Tours won Result in World Championship
 Fausto Coppi (ITA) 1949 Tour + Giro 3rd place
 Fausto Coppi (ITA) 1952 Tour + Giro DNE
 Jacques Anquetil (FRA) 1963 Tour + Vuelta 14th place[4]
 Jacques Anquetil (FRA) 1964 Tour + Giro 7th place[5]
 Eddy Merckx (BEL) 1970 Tour + Giro 29th place[6]
 Eddy Merckx (BEL) 1972 Tour + Giro 4th place[7]
 Eddy Merckx (BEL) 1973 Giro + Vuelta 4th place[8]
 Bernard Hinault (FRA) 1978 Tour + Vuelta 5th place[9]
 Giovanni Battaglin (ITA) 1981 Giro + Vuelta 26th place[10]
 Bernard Hinault (FRA) 1982 Tour + Giro DNF
 Bernard Hinault (FRA) 1985 Tour + Giro DNF
 Miguel Indurain (ESP) 1992 Tour + Giro 6th place
 Miguel Indurain (ESP) 1993 Tour + Giro 2nd place
 Marco Pantani (ITA) 1998 Tour + Giro DNE[11]
 Alberto Contador (ESP) 2008 Giro + Vuelta DNF[12]
 Chris Froome (GBR) 2017 Tour + Vuelta

Winning one grand tour and world championship in one year[edit]

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.

Cyclist Year Grand tour won Result in other grand tours
 Fausto Coppi (ITA) 1940 Giro Tour: DNE Vuelta: NA[13]
 Georges Speicher (FRA) 1933 Tour Giro: DNE Vuelta: NA[13]
 Fausto Coppi (ITA) 1953 Giro Tour: DNE Vuelta: NA[13]
 Louison Bobet (FRA) 1954 Tour Giro: DNE Vuelta: NA[13]
 Ercole Baldini (ITA) 1958 Giro Tour: DNE Vuelta: DNE
 Eddy Merckx (BEL) 1971 Tour Giro: DNE Vuelta: DNE
 Bernard Hinault (FRA) 1980 Giro Tour: DNF Vuelta: DNE
 Greg LeMond (USA) 1989 Tour Giro: 39th place Vuelta: DNE

Other definitions[edit]

Winning all three grand tours in a career[edit]

No rider has ever won all three grand tours in a single year. Winning all three grand tours (Tour de France, Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a España ) in a career is sometimes called a grand tour triple crown, although more usually it would be described as a 'grand slam'.[14] Only six 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 achieve multiple career grand tour triple crowns, both having won each race at least twice.

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

Cyclist Tour de France wins Giro d'Italia wins Vuelta a España wins
 Jacques Anquetil (FRA) 1957, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964 1960, 1964 1963
 Felice Gimondi (ITA) 1965 1967, 1969, 1976 1968
 Eddy Merckx (BEL) 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1974 1968, 1970, 1972, 1973, 1974 1973
 Bernard Hinault (FRA) 1978, 1979, 1981, 1982, 1985 1980, 1982, 1985 1978, 1983
 Alberto Contador (ESP) 2007, 2009 2008, 2015 2008, 2012, 2014
 Vincenzo Nibali (ITA) 2014 2013, 2016 2010

Winning all three grand tours in one year[edit]

The definition of Triple Crown of Cycling can also mean winning all three Grand Tours in the same year.[15] As of 2017, 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.[16] 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.[17]

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.

Completing all three grand tours in one year[edit]

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

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

List of riders and results[edit]

ID Year Rider Tour Giro Vuelta
1 1955 Raphaël Géminiani (Fra)
2 1955 Louis Caput (Fra) 54° 68° 21-°
3 1955 Bernardo Ruiz (Esp) 22° 28° 14°
4 1956 Arrigo Padovan (Ita) 26° 12° 19°
5 1956 José Serra (Esp) 81° 26°
6 1956 Bernardo Ruiz (Esp) 70° 38° 31°
7 1957 Gastone Nencini (Ita)
8 1957 Mario Baroni (Ita) 53° 74° 46°
9 1957 Bernardo Ruiz (Esp) 24° 55°
10 1958 Pierino Baffi (Ita) 63° 23° 26-°
11 1958 Federico Bahamontès (Esp) 17°
12 1971 José Manuel Fuente (Esp) 72° 39° 26-°
13 1971 José Luis Uribezubia (Esp) 49° 29° 36°
14 1985 Philippe Poissonnier (Fra) 90° 86° 66°
15 1987 Marino Lejarreta (Esp) 10° 26-°
16 1988 Luis Javier Lukin (Esp) 82° 32° 26-°
17 1989 Marino Lejarreta (Esp) 10° 20°
18 1990 Eduardo Chozas (Esp) 11° 33°
19 1990 Marino Lejarreta (Esp) 26-°
20 1991 Eduardo Chozas (Esp) 11° 10° 11°
21 1991 Iñaki Gastón (Esp) 61° 23° 14°
22 1991 Marco Giovannetti (Ita) 30° 18°
23 1991 Alberto Leanizbarrutia (Esp) 39° 64° 40-°
24 1991 Marino Lejarreta (Esp) 53°
25 1991 Vladimir Pulnikov (Ucr) 88° 11° 26-°
26 1991 Valerio Tebaldi (Ita) 89° 47° 87°
27 1992 Guido Bontempi (Ita) 75° 40° 62°
28 1992 Neil Stephens (Aus) 74° 57° 66°
29 1999 Mariano Piccoli (Ita) 50° 38° 58°
30 2001 Jon Odriozola (Esp) 69° 59° 83°
31 2005 Giovanni Lombardi (Ita) 118° 88° 115°
32 2006 Carlos Sastre (Esp) 43°
33 2007 Mario Aerts (Bel) 70° 20° 27°
34 2008 Marzio Bruseghin (Ita) 26° 10°
35 2008 Erik Zabel (Ger) 42° 80° 49°
36 2009 Julian Dean (Nzl) 121° 136° 132°
37 2010 Carlos Sastre (Esp) 18°
38 2011 Sebastian Lang (Ger) 111° 55° 76°
39 2012 Adam Hansen (Aus) 81° 94° 123°
40 2013 Adam Hansen (Aus) 72° 72° 60°
41 2014 Adam Hansen (Aus) 64° 73° 53°
42 2015 Adam Hansen (Aus) 77° 114° 55°
43 2015 Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) 36° 54° 47°
44 2016 Alejandro Valverde (Esp) 12°
45 2016 Adam Hansen (Aus) 68° 100° 110°

Winning world titles in three disciplines[edit]

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.[18]

References[edit]