Vuelta a España 2021: Which Cyclists Have Won the Three Grand Tours?

There are three great events in the world of cycling, the Tour de France that was launched in 1903, the Giro d'Italia whose first edition was held in 1909, and the Vuelta a España that emerged in 1935.

Cyclists on the back of Spain

Only a select group of cyclists register the three great laps on their track record. Photo: Pixabay

LatinAmerican Post | Alexey Zhúkov

Listen to this article

Leer en español: Vuelta a España 2021: ¿Qué ciclistas han ganado las tres grandes vueltas?

Winning a Grand Tour is a remarkable achievement, being crowned in two grand tours is admirable, but succeeding in all three grand tours is exceptional. Only a select group of cyclists register the three great laps on their track record.

The first to do so was Frenchman Jacques Anquetil nicknamed "Monsieur Crono" for his skill in the time trial stages. In his 1957 Tour de France debut, he managed to achieve victory at only 23 years old. He also managed to keep the jaune jersey from 1961 to 1964. He also wore pink when he crowned the Giro d'Italia in 1960 and 1964. The third big was achieved in 1963 when he won the 18th edition of the Vuelta a España.

Also read: 3 Keys to Understanding the Vuelta a España

Anquetil died in 1987 at the age of 53, victim of stomach cancer. Shortly before dying, he dedicated a few words to his compatriot Raymond Poulidor: “my friend, you will be second again”.

Second on the list was the Italian cyclist Felice Gimondi, nicknamed "The Phoenix" during the 1960s when he became one of the greats of the peloton. Gimondi won 1 Tour de France, 3 Giro d'Italia and 1 Vuelta España. The Italian runner died in 2019 at the age of 76, victim of a heart attack.

The third place on the list is occupied by the Belgian cyclist Eddy Merckx, considered the best cyclist of all time. He won 5 Tour de France, 5 Giro d'Italia and 1 Vuelta España. Merckx was a versatile cyclist, he dominated flat and time trial, he was tough climbing and tremendous on the descents and sprints, which is why he was nicknamed “The Cannibal” of cycling.

The Belgian rider ended his career on May 1, 1978, and since then continues to be linked to the world of cycling and sports. 

The fourth place on the list went to Bernard Hinault, the French cyclist who won 5 Tour de France, 3 Giro d'Italia, and 3 Vuelta España. Hinault was a cyclist endowed with great qualities that led him to be the protagonist in the peloton, he was skilled in the time trial, where he isolated his rivals to achieve victories. His tenacity, pride, and aggressiveness on the road earned him the nickname "El Tejón". His fierceness was immortalized in one of his phrases: "As long as I breathe, I will attack."

The fifth-place went to the former Spanish cyclist Alberto Contador, who was a skilled climber who knew how to defend himself in time trial stages. Contador won 3 Vuelta España, 2 Giro d'Italia and 2 Tour de France. He was nicknamed "El Pistolero" due to his peculiar way of celebrating his victories by making the gesture of "firing" two pistols into the sky.

The Spanish rider said goodbye to cycling on September 10, 2017, through the streets of Madrid after the final stage of the Vuelta. He currently works as a sportscaster at Eurosport. 

The sixth place went to the Italian Vicenzo Nibali, winner of 2 Giro d'Italia, 1 Vuelta España (2010) and 1 Tour de France (2014). He has the profile of a climber, although his main ability is the descent in the ports. From a very young age, he was nicknamed "El Tiburon" for his ability to never leave a goal and for his insatiable thirst for victories.

He is currently one of the oldest riders in the peloton at 36 years of age and rides for the Trek - Segafredo team. 

Seventh on the list is Christopher Froome, winner of 4 Tour de France, 1 Giro d'Italia and 1 Vuelta España. He is recognized as one of the strongest climbers and one of the best time trialists in the world. A fateful June 12, 2019, he had an accident and was hospitalized due to a fracture of the right femur, an elbow, and several ribs, from which he took 3 months to recover, although his performance was not the same again.

His African origin earned him the nickname of "The white Kenyan." He currently runs for the Israel Start-Up Nation team and among his phrases stands out: "I grew up feeling that people did not look at the color of skin."

Never has a rider been able to triumph in the big three of cycling in the same year, this is something difficult to achieve due to the hardness of the routes and how demanding it is to run a 21-stage competition.

The favorites to win the crown of this edition # 76 of the Vuelta a España are the Slovenian cyclist Primoz Roglic, the Ecuadorian Richard Carapaz, and the Colombian rider Egan Bernal. The latter will seek to join the select group of cyclists who have won the three grand tours, as the beetle has already won 1 Tour de France (2019) and 1 Giro d'Italia (2021).

The Vuelta a España 2021 will be held from August 14 to September 5 with 184 registered riders from 23 teams and a 3,336-kilometer track from Burgos to Santiago de Compostela.