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Grand Tour (cycling)

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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 1940s, 1950s, and early 1970s).


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 -red polka dotted jersey- in the Tour, Maglia Azzurra -blue jersey- in the Giro, and Jersey de puntos azules -blue polka dotted 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 and Adam Hansen have done it four times, Bernardo Ruiz three times, Eduardo Chozas and Carlos Sastre twice each, and 27 more riders have achieved the feat once.

The only riders to have finished in the top 10 in each of the three tours during the same year are Raphaël Géminiani in 1955 and Gastone Nencini in 1957.

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

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 due to 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. However, in October 2014, the Tour de France resumed listing Armstrong as a previous winner of the tour, but with his name crossed out.

Most Grand Tour wins per rider

  • Active riders marked in bold.
  • Winners of all three Grand Tours

    Six 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), 2 Giro (2008, 2015), 3 Vueltas (2008, 2012, 2014)
  •  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)
  •  Vincenzo Nibali (ITA): 1 Tour (2014), 2 Giro (2013, 2016), 1 Vuelta (2010).
  • Winners of three or more consecutive Grand Tours

  •  Eddy Merckx (BEL): 4 Grand Tours - Giro (1972), Tour (1972), Vuelta (1973), Giro (1973)
  •  Bernard Hinault (FRA): 3 Grand Tours - Giro (1982), Tour (1982), Vuelta (1983).
  • Winners of three Grand Tours in a year

    No cyclist has ever won all three Grand Tour events in the same year.

    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:

  •  Jacques Anquetil (FRA): 1963
  •  Bernard Hinault (FRA): 1978
  • The Giro/Vuelta double has been achieved by three cyclists:

  •  Eddy Merckx (BEL): 1973
  •  Giovanni Battaglin (ITA): 1981
  •  Alberto Contador (ESP): 2008
  • Of the above nine, Pantani, Roche and Battaglin's doubles were their only Grand Tour victories in their careers. Only two cyclists have placed in the top ten at all three Grand Tours in the same year: Raphaël Géminiani in 1955 and Gastone Nencini in 1957.

    Most Mountain Jerseys

    The Tour/Giro/Vuelta triple has been achieved by two riders –  Federico Bahamontes (ESP) and  Luis Herrera (COL).

    Most Points Jerseys

    The Tour/Giro/Vuelta triple has been achieved by five riders –  Djamolidine Abdoujaparov (UZB),  Mark Cavendish (GBR),  Laurent Jalabert (FRA),  Eddy Merckx (BEL) and  Alessandro Petacchi (ITA).

    Most Young Rider Jerseys

    The Tour/Giro double has been achieved by two riders –  Nairo Quintana (COL) and  Andy Schleck (LUX).

    Most Grand Tour stage wins

    Cyclists whose names are in bold are still active. This list is complete up to and including the 2016 Tour de France.

    Three cyclists have won stages in all three of the Grand Tours in the same year:

  •  Miguel Poblet (ESP): 1956
  •  Pierino Baffi (ITA): 1958
  •  Alessandro Petacchi (ITA): 2003
  • Grand Tour finishers

    Only 33 riders have finished all three Grand Tours in one season. Adam Hansen has done this five 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 29 (12 Tours, 12 Giros and 5 Vueltas). Adam Hansen has finished the most consecutive Grand Tours: 16 tours from 2011 Vuelta a España till 2016 Vuelta a España.


    Grand Tour (cycling) Wikipedia