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Grand Tour (cycling)
In road bicycle racing, a Grand Tour is one of the three major European professional cycling stage races: Giro d'Italia, Tour de France, and Vuelta a España. Collectively they are termed the Grand Tours, and all three races are similar in format being three 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 Giro d'Italia is generally run in May, the Tour de France in July, and the Vuelta a España in late August and September. The Vuelta was originally held in the spring, usually late April, with a few editions held in June in the 1940s. In 1995, however, the race moved to September to avoid direct competition with the Giro d'Italia.
The Tour de France is the oldest and most prestigious in terms of points accrued to racers of all three, and is the most widely attended annual sporting event in the world. The Tour, the Giro and the Road World Cycling Championship make up the Triple Crown of Cycling.
The three Grand Tours are men's events, and no three week races exist on the women's road cycling circuit. The Giro Rosa, the ten stage Italian road race for women is the only race on the current women's circuit treated as broadly equivalent to a Grand Tour, although the defunct women's Tour de France was, in its time, given similar status.
In their current form, the Grand Tours are held over three consecutive weeks and typically include two rest days near the beginning of the second and third weeks. If the opening stages are in a country not neighboring the home nation of the race, there is sometimes an additional rest day after the opening weekend to allow for transfers. 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) and individual and team time trials. 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 for violating 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 UCI WorldTeams are guaranteed a place in all three events, and obliged to participate, and the organisers are free to invite wild card teams of UCI ProContinental status to make up the 22 teams that usually compete.
The main competition is the individual general classification, decided on aggregate time (sometimes after allowance of time bonuses). There are also classifications for teams and young riders, and based on climbing and sprinting points, and other minor competitions. Three riders have won the three individual classifications open to all riders (general, mountains and points classifications) 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 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, 34 riders have completed all three Grand Tours in one year: Adam Hansen did so six years in a row.
In cycling history riders from a single country won all three Grand Tours in a year on only three occasions. In 1964 with French riders Jacques Anquetil and Raymond Poulidor and in 2008 with Spanish riders Alberto Contador and Carlos Sastre. 2018 marked the only time different riders from the same country won all three Tours and this was British riders Chris Froome, Geraint Thomas and Simon Yates.
For the UCI World Tour, more points are given in grand tours than in other races; the winner of the Tour de France receives 1000 points, and the winners of the Giro and Vuelta receive 850 points. Depending on the nature of other races, points vary for the winner of the overall classification The grand tours have a special status for the length: they are allowed to last between 15 and 23 days.
General Classification winners
Wins per year
|Rider won 3 Grand Tours in the same year|
|Rider won 2 Grand Tours in the same year|
|Flag icon key: List of National Flags|
A. a b c d e f g Lance Armstrong was declared winner of seven consecutive tours from 1999 to 2005. However, in October 2012, he was stripped of all titles by the UCI for his use of performance-enhancing drugs. Organizers of the Tour de France announced that the winner's slot would remain empty in the record books, rather than transfer the win to the second-place finishers each year.
Wins per rider
|1||Eddy Merckx||11||5 (1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1974)||5 (1968, 1970, 1972, 1973, 1974)||1 (1973)|
|2||Bernard Hinault||10||5 (1978, 1979, 1981, 1982, 1985)||3 (1980, 1982, 1985)||2 (1978, 1983)|
|3||Jacques Anquetil||8||5 (1957, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964)||2 (1960, 1964)||1 (1963)|
|4||Fausto Coppi||7||2 (1949, 1952)||5 (1940, 1947, 1949, 1952, 1953)||–|
|Miguel Indurain||7||5 (1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995)||2 (1992, 1993)||–|
|Alberto Contador||7||2 (2007, 2009)||2 (2008, 2015)||3 (2008, 2012, 2014)|
|Chris Froome||7||4 (2013, 2015, 2016, 2017)||1 (2018)||2 (2011, 2017)|
|8||Alfredo Binda||5||–||5 (1925, 1927, 1928, 1929, 1933)||–|
|Gino Bartali||5||2 (1938, 1948)||3 (1936, 1937, 1946)||–|
|Felice Gimondi||5||1 (1965)||3 (1967, 1969, 1976)||1 (1968)|
- Active riders marked in bold.
Wins by country
Winners of all three Grand Tours
Seven cyclists have won all three of the Grand Tours during their career:
- Jacques Anquetil: 5 Tours (1957, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964), 2 Giros (1960, 1964), 1 Vuelta (1963).
- Felice Gimondi: 1 Tour (1965), 3 Giros (1967, 1969, 1976), 1 Vuelta (1968)
- Eddy Merckx: 5 Tours (1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1974), 5 Giros (1968, 1970, 1972, 1973, 1974), 1 Vuelta (1973)
- Bernard Hinault: 5 Tours (1978, 1979, 1981, 1982, 1985), 3 Giros (1980, 1982, 1985), 2 Vueltas (1978, 1983)
- Alberto Contador: 2 Tours (2007, 2009), 2 Giros (2008, 2015), 3 Vueltas (2008, 2012, 2014)
- Vincenzo Nibali: 1 Tour (2014), 2 Giros (2013, 2016), 1 Vuelta (2010).
- Chris Froome: 4 Tours (2013, 2015, 2016, 2017), 1 Giro (2018), 2 Vueltas (2011, 2017).
Hinault and Contador are the only cyclists to have won each Grand Tour at least twice.
Winners of three or more consecutive Grand Tours
- Fausto Coppi: 3 Grand Tours - Giro (1952), Tour (1952), Giro (1953).
- Eddy Merckx: 4 Grand Tours - Giro (1972), Tour (1972), Vuelta (1973), Giro (1973).
- Bernard Hinault: 3 Grand Tours - Giro (1982), Tour (1982), Vuelta (1983).
- Chris Froome: 3 Grand Tours - Tour (2017), Vuelta (2017), Giro (2018).
During Fausto Coppi achievement, the Vuelta a Espana didn't run (1951-1954).
During Eddy Merckx and Bernard Hinault achievements, the Vuelta a Espana was the first Grand Tour hold in those years.
Winners of all three Grand Tours in a single year
No rider has won all three Grand Tours in a single year.
Winners of multiple Grand Tours in a single year
Ten riders have achieved a double by winning two grand tours in the same calendar year.
Seven cyclists have won the Tour and the Giro in the same calendar year:
- Fausto Coppi: 1949, 1952
- Jacques Anquetil: 1964
- Eddy Merckx: 1970, 1972, 1974
- Bernard Hinault: 1982, 1985
- Stephen Roche: 1987
- Miguel Indurain: 1992, 1993
- Marco Pantani: 1998
The Tour/Vuelta double has been achieved by three cyclists:
The Giro/Vuelta double has been achieved by three cyclists:
Of the above ten, Pantani, Roche and Battaglin's doubles were their only Grand Tour victories in their careers.
Finished in the top ten in all three Grand Tours in a single year
Few riders have finished all three in a single year, of whom two finished in the top ten in each: Raphaël Géminiani (4th, 6th and 3rd in the Giro, Tour and Vuelta in 1955) and Gastone Nencini (1st, 6th and 9th in 1957).
Smallest margin between 1st and 2nd placed rider
The margins between the winner of a Grand Tour and the runner-up are often narrow, and rarely larger than a few minutes.
As of 2019, there have been 51 Grand Tours with a winning margin less than one minute. The smallest margins are as follows:
|1||Eric Caritoux||90h 08' 03""||Alberto Fernández||+00h 00' 06"||Vuelta a España (1984)|
|2||Greg LeMond||87h 38' 35""||Laurent Fignon||+00h 00' 08"||Tour de France (1989)|
|3||José Manuel Fuente||86h 48' 18||Joaquim Agostinho||+00h 00' 11"||Vuelta a España (1974)|
|Fiorenzo Magni||124h 51' 52"||Ezio Cecchi||Giro d'Italia (1948)|
|5||Eddy Merckx||113h 08' 13"||Gianbattista Baronchelli||+00h 00' 12"||Giro d'Italia (1974)|
|6||Angelo Conterno||105h 37' 52"||Jesús Loroño||+00h 00' 13"||Vuelta a España (1956)|
|Fiorenzo Magni||108h 56' 12"||Fausto Coppi||Giro d'Italia (1955)|
|8||Augustín Tamames||88h 00" 56'||Domingo Perurena||+00h 00' 14"||Vuelta a España (1975)|
|9||Ryder Hesjedal||91h 39' 02"||Joaquim Rodríguez||+00h 00' 16"||Giro d'Italia (2012)|
The biggest winning margin in a Grand Tour was 2h 59' 21" in Maurice Garin's win at the first Tour de France in 1903. The biggest margin in the history of Giro d'Italia was in 1914 when Alfonso Calzolari won by 1h 57' 26", and the biggest margin in the history of Vuelta a España was in 1945 when Delio Rodríguez finished 30' 08" clear.
Points classification winners
|1||Erik Zabel||9||6 (1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001)||0||3 (2002, 2003, 2004)|
|2||Sean Kelly||8||4 (1982, 1983, 1985, 1989)||0||4 (1980, 1985, 1986, 1988)|
|Peter Sagan||8||7 (2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2018, 2019)||1 (2021)||0|
|4||Laurent Jalabert||7||2 (1992, 1995)||1 (1999)||4 (1994, 1995, 1996, 1997)|
|5||Eddy Merckx||6||3 (1969, 1971, 1972)||2 (1968, 1973)||1 (1973)|
Mountains classification winners
|1||Gino Bartali||9||2 (1938, 1948)||7 (1935, 1936, 1937, 1939, 1940, 1946, 1947)||0|
|Federico Bahamontes||9||6 (1954, 1958, 1959, 1962, 1963, 1964)||1 (1956)||2 (1957, 1958)|
|3||Lucien Van Impe||8||6 (1971, 1972, 1975, 1977, 1981, 1983)||2 (1982, 1983)||0|
|4||Richard Virenque||7||7 (1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1999, 2003, 2004)||0||0|
|5||Julio Jiménez||6||3 (1965, 1966, 1967)||0||3 (1963, 1964, 1965)|
Young rider classification winners
The Tour/Giro double has been achieved by three riders – Egan Bernal, Nairo Quintana and Andy Schleck. The Giro/Vuelta double has been achieved by one rider – Miguel Ángel López. The Tour/Vuelta double has been achieved by one rider – Tadej Pogačar.
|1||Andy Schleck||4||3 (2008, 2009, 2010)||1 (2007)||0|
|2||Jan Ullrich||3||3 (1996, 1997, 1998)||0||0|
|Nairo Quintana||3||2 (2013, 2015)||1 (2014)||0|
|Miguel Ángel López||3||0||2 (2018, 2019)||1 (2017)|
|Tadej Pogačar||3||2 (2020, 2021)||0||1 (2019)|
Grand Tour stage wins
|9||Rik Van Looy||7||12||18||37|
|Raffaele Di Paco||11||15||0||26|
|Rik Van Steenbergen||4||15||6||25|
|24||Roger De Vlaeminck||1||22||1||24|
|Jean Paul van Poppel||9||4||9||22|
Grand Tour finishers
Only 35 riders have finished all three Grand Tours in one season. Adam Hansen has done this six times, Marino Lejarreta four times and Bernardo Ruiz achieved it in three different years, while Eduardo Chozas and Carlos Sastre have completed the accomplishment twice.
The rider with most participations on Grand Tours is Matteo Tosatto with 34 (12 Tours, 13 Giros and 9 Vueltas). The rider who has finished most Grand Tours is also Matteo Tosatto, with 28 (12 Tours, 11 Giros and 5 Vueltas). Adam Hansen has finished the most consecutive Grand Tours: 20 tours from 2011 Vuelta a España till 2018 Giro d'Italia. The best average finish was the first time three Grand Tours were finished in one season, when Raphaël Géminiani finished 4th, 6th and 3rd in the Giro, Tour and Vuelta, respectively. Bernardo Ruiz was the first rider to ride every tour of a season on three occasions which he completed in 1957. Marino Lejarreta completed every grand tour of the season for the 4th time in 1991 and of these 12 tours he finished in the top 10 of eight of them. His record of 4 was not passed until Adam Hansen completed the Vuelta in 2016.
|Rider||Year||Final GC position|
|Thomas De Gendt||2019||51||60||56|
|Adam Hansen (6)||2017||93||113||95|
|Adam Hansen (5)||2016||68||100||110|
|Adam Hansen (4)||2015||77||114||55|
|Adam Hansen (3)||2014||73||64||53|
|Adam Hansen (2)||2013||72||72||60|
|Carlos Sastre (2)||2010||8||20||8|
|Eduardo Chozas (2)||1991||10||11||11|
|Marino Lejarreta (4)||1991||5||53||3|
|Marino Lejarreta (3)||1990||7||5||55|
|Marino Lejarreta (2)||1989||10||5||20|
|Luis Javier Lukin||1988||32||82||60|
|José Luis Uribezubia||1971||29||50||27|
|Jose Manuel Fuente||1971||39||72||54|
|Bernardo Ruiz (3)||1957||55||24||3|
|Bernardo Ruiz (2)||1956||38||70||31|
- "UCI Cycling regulations—Part 2: Road Races" (PDF). January 1, 2017. p. 64. Retrieved 2017-07-06.
- "UCI Cycling regulations". p. 41. Archived from the original on 2011-06-23. Retrieved 2012-07-20.
- McMahon, Daniel. "Tour de France, world's biggest annual sporting event, is an amazing race and breathtaking logistical feat". Business Insider.
- "Tony Rominger". Cycling Hall of Fame.com. 1961-03-27. Retrieved 2012-07-20.
- Riche, Antoine (19 March 2005). "Doubler deux Grands Tours revient à la mode" (in French). CyclisMag. Archived from the original on 20 November 2010. Retrieved 11 November 2010.
- Later declared the legitimate winner
- Later declared the legitimate winner
- "The History of Tour de France". letour.fr.
- "Historical Results – The Grand Tours". Retrieved 2012-07-20.
- "Petacchi equals Poblet and Baffi". cyclingnews.com. September 9, 2003.
- "Giro d'Italia 2009" (pdf). Infostrada sports. 2009. p. 208. Retrieved 29 June 2011.
- "Le Tour en chiffres : Les vainqueurs d'étapes" (PDF). ASO. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2010-07-16. Retrieved 2010-07-26.
- L'impresa di Adam Hansen: completati Giro, Tour e Vuelta in un anno, Spazio Ciclismo, 9. sept. 2012
- "Tour Xtra: Tour Records". cvccbike.com.
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