Greatest Cyclist of All Time



It’s a loaded question, but who do you feel is the Greatest Cyclist of All Time…and why?  Labelling someone the Greatest was not something I was willing to do on my own, so I left this one up to a panel of expert judges to do it for me.  Here’s a look at who was involved, and what they came up with.


The Panel

The panel we used to determine who would be called the Greatest of All Time included cycling celebrities, #bikeschool classmates, and other bike lovers.  The cycling celebrities featured the likes of pro rider and Boo Bicycles owner, Nick Frey, cycling celebrity Ryan van Duzer, some of my amateur and semi-pro racing friends, as well as couple kings of the cycling blog world: Fat Cyclist and Wade from Cycling Tips.

In total, we took the responses of our panel made up of 100 cycling fanatics and the results were quite interesting.  When each of these people were asked who they felt was the greatest cyclist of all time, not once did we mention that it had to be a pro cyclist…..but it’s funny how the majority of responders included one as their reply.

Okay, so here is the top 5 Greatest Cyclists of All Time as selected by our panel.  We’ve also included a few of the responses as to why certain cyclists were selected, so be sure to check out the quotes and comments below.

Top 5 Cyclists of All Time:

5.  Cadel Evans

4.  Danny MacAskill

3. Fausto Coppi

2.  Lance Armstrong

1. Eddy Merckx

This is obviously an interesting list and the reasons why people selected who they did is even more interesting.

“Lance might be the best Tour de France champion of all time, but the greatest cyclist has got to be Eddy Merckx.  No question.”

– Victor from @bicyclelab


“I never saw Merckx race in his day and only saw a bit of footage and read a lot. I never really connected with him (even though I was lucky enough to have lunch with him a few years back where I heard many of the stories from his own mouth!”

– Wade from Cycling Tips

I loved this response from the king of cycling comedy:

“I am the greatest cyclist of all time. Have Lance or Eddy ever finished an Ironman? Or the LT100 on a SS?  Have either ever podiumed at the Tour de Donut? Have either of them won a Bloggie?  I, on the other hand, have done ALL these things. While working a day job, mind you.”

– Elden from Fat Cyclist


“A great cyclist to me is someone who entertains and does something I would call amazing.  Danny MacAskill is all that and more, that guy can do anything on a bike.”

– Jason M


“Lance, because he won the tdf seven years in a row.  He’s the most wonderful cyclist to step foot on the planet.  He’s the master of the sport, he brought cycling where it is today.”

– Ireland’s up and coming cycling star, Ian Redmond


“Although he is not my favorite rider, and far from exciting under most circumstances, I would have to say Cadel Evans is the greatest all-around rider in the last decade.  He’s proven on the mountain bike, the road bike, and the TT bike, and he can climb, sprint, TT, ride classics, go in breaks, descend, and fight for the overall without the help of a team.  He’s good throughout the entire year, and has an unbreakable spirit.

I know he’s only won the tour once, but if you look back at the last 10 years, he’s been fighting and improving the entire time.”

– Nick Frey


“My nomination for the greatest ever cyclist is Bernard Hinault.  Known as ‘The Badger’ due to his fighting style when cornered, Hinault was a complete rider who could climb, sprint, and time trial with the best and it would have been great to see Hinault go up against Eddy Merckx when both riders were in their prime.”

– Our own, @steviedexter

I think our panel of cycling experts came up with an interesting list of Greatest Cyclists of All Time, and I also wanted to share with you a graphic that lists the top cyclists as determined by points in One Day races and Grand Tours.

c/o Cycling Hall of Fame

Who do you think is the Greatest:  How did our expert panel of judges do?  Did they come up with the Greatest Cyclists of All Time?  Leave your comments and let us know who you think is the greatest….and why.

Photos c/o France-CyclismeDanny MacAskill, and Cycling Hall of Fame.  Graphic c/o Cycling Hall of Fame


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32 Responses to “ Greatest Cyclist of All Time ”

  1. Allexa on February 27, 2016 at 2:18 pm

    I am shocked that Marianne Vos is not even on the list.

  2. David on October 26, 2015 at 12:45 pm

    Merckx is the best there ever was, or will be. Case closed.

  3. Brad on January 12, 2013 at 4:07 pm

    Ullrich is the most talented rider after merckx there’s no doubt about that if he had taken cycling more seriously he would have had similar results, and he had Great results even though e never took cycling very seriously, so if your talking about the most talented rider of all time I think the discussion resumes to merckx and ullrich! Pure talent!

  4. miel vanstreels on December 12, 2012 at 6:15 am

    Milan-San Remo, Tour of Flanders, Paris-Roubaix, Liège-Bastogne-Liège, Tour de France, World Championship on the road, Tour of Lombardy: every cyclist dreams of victories in these contests.
    Victories in other contests would, I suspect, with pleasure exchanged for a victory in one of these historic cycling events. All this contests have a long and famous history. Who won at least four of these contests? Not more than 42 cyclists:

  5. Sam Whittingham on December 8, 2012 at 12:36 am

    Beryl Burton.

  6. SH on September 5, 2012 at 9:28 pm

    Anne Caroline Chausson, she won 12 Downhill MTB world championships, 2 Dual Slalom world championships, 2 4-cross world championships and 3 BMX world championships, and an Olympic gold medal in BMX (since only one had been contested during her career). Also winning 55 UCI events over these 4 genres. IMO should qualify as one of the greatest cyclists of all time.

  7. Pz1800 on March 21, 2012 at 11:30 pm

    We need a top 10 (aren’t lists always the top 10?) and we need both sexes. In the men’s, I’d add Fausto Coppi, Hinault, Anquetil, Boardman, Hoy, Obree and Simpson. The women’s list would of course be led by Jeannie Longo (sure she’s questionable in cleanliness terms, but then, so is Lance … ) and I’d look out some other women but I’m getting ready to ride to work

    • Darryl is Loving the Bike on March 22, 2012 at 7:17 am

      Yeah, a top 10 would be a typical list…..but we’re anything from typical over here.  Hahahahaha.  Actually, the main reason we posted this top 5 list was because it had a few cyclists on it who would make people shake their heads.  It’s far from a typical top 5 cyclists list….and that’s why we went ahead with it.

      I totally agree about having the women on there and we might have to do a female riders only list one day.

  8. FOGgy cyclist on March 16, 2012 at 4:33 pm

    George Mills, James Moore, Eddy Mercx, Indurain and (begrudgingly) Armstrong.

  9. Eric Hutchins on March 16, 2012 at 2:58 pm

    Bill was the greatest cyclist of all time.
    When I used to live in the VI we had a pretty active road racing community for that small of a population. Now I will admit that our very fastest at the time would likely have struggled in top tier racing in the US, and I sure struggled to hang with our fastest. In that top VI group there was a guy named Bill. Bill was in his mid 50’s lived on a sailboat and got by doing odd construction jobs. Bill was the first to lend a hand when someone needed help, volunteered tons of times at the local schools and orphanage, and would have given you his last nickle if you asked for it. Bill help marked the road course before a race and picked up the trash after.

    In September of 2004 and 56 years old, Bill won the VI championship 65 mile road race, an incrediblly hilly grueling race with poor road conditions, technical downhills, and a very strong group of local riders. In November of 2004 Bill died of cancer, a cancer that he had been battling quietly for the previous 18 months.
    Bill was the greatest cyclist of all time.

    • Darryl is Loving the Bike on March 22, 2012 at 7:20 am

      Thanks for this, Eric.  Bill sounds like a true champion and I can see how much of an effect he had on you.  A cyclists definitely doesn’t have to be a recognized pro or even a well known cyclist to be a champion….it’s champions like this one who definitely inspire the rest of us.

  10. Dean on March 14, 2012 at 10:59 pm

    I like the thought and agree that the best could be categorized.  It would be interesting to see who the best support cyclists are.  They, after all, made it possible for some of the best to be a good as they were.  Hincapie, Landis, etc…  Great post!!! 

    • Darryl is Loving the Bike on March 15, 2012 at 7:31 am

      Yeah, I’m sure there is already a list of top domestiques out there somewhere and it would be interesting to see who’s on top.

  11. Marianne Westacott-Clermonts on March 14, 2012 at 4:05 pm

    The greatest cyclist of all time is Marianne Vos. Hands down. 

  12. Jen on March 14, 2012 at 11:51 am

    I like the answer from Fat Cyclist.  Maybe he is the greatest cyclist of all time.

  13. John on March 14, 2012 at 8:17 am

    This is a tough list to put together, and an even tougher one to please everyone.  Maybe one cyclist should have been chosen from each type of riding category?  My pick is Lance Armstrong for many of the same reasons that I’m sure the others selected him for.

    • Darryl is Loving the Bike on March 14, 2012 at 2:36 pm

      That’s a good idea, and we’ll have to highlight other great riders from other cycling varieties in the future as well.

  14. rikaguilera on March 14, 2012 at 8:01 am

    All the mentioned are by far great cyclist. Some as racers, some as stunt/trick riders. But as far as the “greatest”, no.. Let me explain. Inside of each cyclist is the greatest cyclist of all time. We watch the pros race, and get inspired. We may watch an event like “X Games” and then grab the bike for some trail runs. And once out on the bike, you can’t deny the feeling of pride, strength, freedom that the bike gives you. It makes us feel superior, like a superhero of sorts. The bicycle makes all of us, the greatest cyclist of all time. If further proof is needed, take a trip to your local BMX track, and watch the youngest racers tear it up. Look at the fun they are having, the focus in their eyes. The fearless riding that they do. They are, at that moment, the greatest. If the scale for greatest is determined on race wins, OK.. on stunt skill, OK.. but on true greatness, WE are the greatest when we allow the bike to provide us these feelings.

    • Darryl is Loving the Bike on March 14, 2012 at 10:55 am

      Good answer, Rik.  Yes, we ALL are Champions.

    • Roger B on March 14, 2012 at 2:20 pm

      That just might be the least disputed answer possible.  Yes, we all are great riders and anyone who makes the decision to ride a bike over driving a vehicle is a true champion.

  15. Gorilla on March 14, 2012 at 7:18 am

    I’d throw in Deadly Nedly, Ned Overend. He won the gold medal as UCI World MTB Champ, won NORBA National Mountain Biking Championship 6 times, won XTerra twice and much more.

  16. Mark Beaconsfield on March 14, 2012 at 7:12 am

    I agree with the top 5 and am very happy Cadel Evans made the list. ( I may be a little biased there) Eddy has taken his rightful spot as no.1. Is there nothing that Danny MacAskill cant do on a bike? The man is pure entertainment and always a joy to watch.

    • Darryl is Loving the Bike on March 14, 2012 at 10:57 am

      Yeah, I was happy to see Cadel make the list as well.  He may have not won as many grand tours and races as some other cyclists, but I agree with what Nick Frey said about him and feel that overall he is a great champion.

  17. David Pittman on March 14, 2012 at 7:09 am

    Hinault has to be there. It’s tough to leave Indurain off the list too. And LeMond, though an ass, brought the Tour de France to the mind of Americans – in addition to being a damn good rider. We need a bigger Top 5!

    • Darryl is Loving the Bike on March 14, 2012 at 10:58 am

      Hinault was definitely a solid sixth place.  There are so many other great cyclists as well and I agree that we could have used a “bigger” Top 5.

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