The Best Cyclists of All Time

The Best Cyclists of All Time

The Best Cyclists of All Time

Winning is never easy; doing it on more than a hundred occasions is rare. Yet champions capable of reaching triple figures in terms of career successes mark the history of cycling. These are the most successful cyclists ever, names known to enthusiasts and beyond, since with their deeds they have entered the collective imagination.

The most successful cyclists ever: the ranking

So let’s find out who the most successful cyclists of all time are. A ranking naturally destined to change in the coming years with the advent of young talents who will try to emulate the exploits of the greats of the past.

  1. Eddy Merckx (Belgium) 283
  2. Mario Cipollini (Italy) 166
  3. Roger De Vlaeminck (Belgium) 164
  4. Rik Van Looy (Belgium) 164
  5. Mark Cavendish (Great Britain) 161
  6. André Greipel (Germany) 158
  7. Sean Kelly (Ireland) 156
  8. Alessandro Petacchi (Italy) 153
  9. Francesco Moser (Italy) 151
  10. Freddy Maertens (Belgium) 147

The most successful cyclist is Eddy Merckx: the cannibal

At the top of the all-time ranking of the most successful cyclists ever, we find Eddy Merckx. In business between 1965 and 1978, he earned the nickname “Cannibal” because he didn’t even leave crumbs for his opponents. The record of 283 victories seems unattainable, but this is just one of the many records set by the Flemish. The only person in history to have won the Giro d’Italia five times, the Tour de France five times (three times in the same season), a Vuelta a Espana, nineteen monument classic victories, and three World Championships. A palmares that earns him the reputation of the strongest of all time, given his ability to express himself to the maximum on any racing terrain, from the plains to the great mountains. It is not an exaggeration to say that with him in the race, the only aim was second place.

Super Mario Cipollini and the 166 Wonders

On the second place of the ranking of the most successful cyclists ever, we find Mario Cipollini. One of the symbols of the Italian movement and, in particular, of the sprints in the 1990s and early 2000s Nicknamed the Lion King or Super Mario, he boasts the record for stage victories in the Giro d’Italia (42), in addition to the Milan– Sanremo and the Zolder World Championship, both won in 2002. Eccentric and sometimes provocative, in addition to his talents as an athlete, he also stood out as a media personality who catalyzed the interest of enthusiasts.

The Belgian couple undermined by Mark Cavendish

Roger de Vlaeminck is one of the legends of Belgian cycling, even though he had to deal with Merckx the whole time he was racing. Fans called him “Monsieur Roubaix” because he got along so well with Paris-Roubaix, which he won four times. He had a total of 164 victories. The third step of the podium in the all-time ranking of the most successful cyclists is shared with another Belgian, Rik Van Looy. A sprinter born in 1933, he lived his peak between the end of the 50s and the 60s, during which he managed to conquer stages in all the main races.

It cannot be excluded, however, that a new name may appear on the podium of this special classification in the coming years. In fifth place, we find Mark Cavendish, the only cyclist still active in the top 10. With 161 wins, the British sprinter has all the qualifications to try to pass those who came before him. He was born in 1985, and it looked like his career was coming to an end, but in recent years he has found the right pedal stroke and has also won stages in the Tour de France again. This put him ahead of Eddy Merckx in the list of people who did the best at the Grand Boucle. Between 2008 and 2013, the Isle of Man native Briton was dominant in the sprints, but even today, with fierce competition, he is capable of being competitive. Now the distance between De Vlaeminck and Van Looy is increasingly thin.

The Gorilla and the La Spezia

André Greipel’s career ended with 158 victories. The German sprinter, nicknamed Gorilla, hung up his bike at the end of the 2021 season, but for some years now he hadn’t been able to perform at the highest levels. A rider capable of expressing great power, he gave his best on the totally flat stages. The last two rings in his last year in the pros have allowed him to pull away from Irish legend Sean Kelly. The latter, with 156 successes, occupies the seventh position in the special ranking of the most successful ever.

In the eighth position, we find Alessandro Petacchi. An athlete who experienced the peak of his career in the early 2000s, with the historic record of nine successes in a single Giro d’Italia in 2004. The haul of 153 victories is important; however, the regret of a few too many physical problems prevented him from expressing himself continuously in the final phase of his career. La Spezia, together with Cipollini, is considered one of the greatest sprinters in the history of Italian cycling.

The 151 Triumphs of Francesco Moser

In the top 10 of the most successful riders ever, we find an Italian legend, Francesco Moser. An all-round runner, in the 1980s he inflamed fans with his rivalry with Giuseppe Saronni. 151 successes in his career, divided between classics, short stage races, and even a Giro d’Italia. A career of the highest level remained in history. Finally, the Belgian Freddy Maertens closes out the top 10 with 147 victories, among which two World Championships stand out, as well as stages in all three Grand Tours.