May 29, 2017 by Irish Peloton
Grand Tour Trebles
Winning two Grand Tours in the same year has been achieved 17 times throughout cycling history. If we consider all of the years where this was actually possible, that’s an average of a Grand Tour double roughly every six years – a relatively common occurrence.
Despite Oleg’s Tinkov’s wishes, no rider has ever won all three Grand Tours in a single year. The best performance by a rider across all three in one year is a toss up between Raphael Geminiani in 1955 and Gastone Nencini in 1957. Geminiani finished the Vuelta, Giro and Tour in third, fourth and sixth overall respectively. Adding these finishing positions together gives a total of 13, which is the lowest total ever achieved. In 1957, Nencini managed ninth, first and sixth – a total of 16 which is not as good as Geminiani but since Nencini actually won the Giro, depending on your criteria, perhaps this should be considered a better set of results.
Consequently, no rider has even finished on the podium of each Grand Tour in a single year either which highlights just how difficult it would be for a single rider to seriously consider winning all three.
However, if we wrap the calendar around on itself and consider the notion of three consecutive Grand Tours not necessarily in the same calendar year, there have been some notable achievements.
In 1972 and 1973, Eddy Merckx went on the most successful streak in Grand Tour history. In 1972 he completed the Giro/Tour double, then having decided to skip the Tour the following year, he went to the Vuelta in the Spring of 1973 and won that too. Five days later he was at the startline of the Giro, which he also won, making it four Grand Tours in a row with Merckx as the winner. This is a feat which has never been equalled.
The closest anyone has come is Bernard Hinault, who completed the first three legs of Merckx’s four leg masterpiece. Hinault completed his own Giro/Tour double in the summer 1982 before going on to win the following year’s Vuelta a Espana. Hinault probably wouldn’t have ridden the 1983 Giro anyway given that he was aiming for the Tour, but a knee injury created by his determination to win that 1983 Vuelta meant that the rest of his year was a write-off.
Merckx and Hinault won all of these Grand Tours. But if we expand this list to include riders who have finished on the podium of three consecutive Grand Tours, the list only grows by one name – Nairo Quintana.
By finishing in second place behind Tom Dumoulin at the recent Giro d’Italia, Quintana has now done what no rider has achieved since Bernard Hinault in 1983. The Colombian finished third at the 2016 Tour de France behind Chris Froome and Romain Bardet. He then went on to win the Vuelta, getting his revenge over Froome. And now he has completed the hat-trick, albeit with only one of them as winner.
Quintana will go the Tour de France now in July with the aim of making it four Grand Tour podiums in a row – a Merckxian achievement should he manage it.