Tour de France: Five-time WinnersPosted: Tuesday July 01, 2003 12:02 PM
PARIS (Reuters) -- American Lance Armstrong will be going for a record-equalling fifth Tour de France title when the race starts Saturday. The following four men have won five titles before:
JACQUES ANQUETIL (France) won in 1957, 1961, 1962, 1963 1964
Anquetil's bon viveur lifestyle nearly cost him the honor of being the first to rack up five Tour victories.
Anquetil could not resist the roast lamb and sangria on offer at a rest-day barbecue in Andorra in 1964 and tucked in, to the horror of his team and the delight of his rivals.
As the riders hit the Port d'Envalira climb the next day, yellow-jersey challenger Raymond Poulidor attacked, leaving Anquetil struggling with a rebellious digestion.
Then team manager Raphael Geminiani opened a bottle of champagne he had been saving for celebrating in Paris. Anquetil gulped at the fizz. "It's kill or cure," said Geminiani, and it worked.
Nearly six minutes behind Poulidor, Anquetil recovered to mount a 50 kph chase.
He reached the summit of the 2,407-meter mountain four minutes behind to plunge recklessly down a descent shrouded in mist and halve Poulidor's lead.
Then Poulidor suffered a puncture and his mechanic threw a spare bike to him, which hit the luckless rider on the nose.
Amid the drama Georges Groussard clung on to the yellow jersey, then in Bayonne relinquished it to Anquetil. Three days from Paris, Poulidor triumphed over Anquetil in an elbow-to-elbow duel on the Puy de Dome mountain, reducing Anquetil's lead to 14 seconds.
But in a time trial from Versailles Anquetil clawed back seconds to clinch overall victory by 55 seconds, the tightest of his triumphs.
Anquetil died of cancer at 53.
EDDY MERCKX (Belgium) 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1974
No heroics and no risks, advise the wise heads, when it comes to your first Tour, consider it a taste not a meal.
Merckx, never one to heed orders, turned his debut into a banquet.
He reeled off six stage wins and finished on the Paris podium in the yellow jersey and with the jerseys of best climber and points winner in his bag.
That was how he got his "Cannibal" nickname, by gorging instead of nibbling at opportunities, and that year, 1969, when he won by almost 18 minutes, eight of those minutes were gained in a 130-km solo from the Tourmalet mountain to Mourenx.
Merckx had gone into the Tour still seething over his eviction from the Giro d'Italia. "It was the worst injustice of my career," he said, declaring his innocence over stimulant traces found in his doping sample.
A vengeful Merckx unleashed himself on the Tour to become the first Belgian victor since Sylvere Maes 30 years before.
"Only on a bike do I feel really at ease," he once said about the demands of popularity that soared as he reaped five Tours, three Giro d'Italia wins and one Tour of Spain, plus world titles in a tally of 525 victories.
In 1975, Merckx was hunting a record sixth Tour triumph but after 10 days as race leader he found his match in Frenchman Bernard Thevenet.
On the Pra Loup climb, his 96th and last day in Tour yellow, Merckx cracked after a welter of counter-attacking and lost almost three minutes to Thevenet in the last six kilometers.
Thevenet kept the jersey to the end and Merckx, nursing a broken jaw from a crash, was reduced to a fluid diet for the final week.
BERNARD HINAULT (France) 1978, 1979, 1981, 1982, 1985
A black eye and a broken nose to go with his yellow jersey summed up Bernard Hinault's attitude to cycling's greatest challenge.
His rivals knew that they were in for a fight whenever a yellow jersey was waved at the gritty Breton who thrived on challenge.
In 1986 Hinault, seemingly content with five Tours to his credit, announced that he would ride in support of his teammate Greg LeMond but the American sometimes had his doubts.
The aggressive stamp of Hinault was all over that race. His persistent attacking blunted the edge of the seasoned climbers and LeMond complained that it also gave him a hard time.
"I tried to wear out rivals to help him but I never attacked him personally. It's not my fault that he did not understand," said Hinault, who was known as The Badger.
The badger is a fearsome foe when hunted and Hinault knew only one way to tackle a race -- with aggression. His methods earned double victories in the Giro d'Italia and the Tour of Spain, a world title, and a string of classics.
In 1986, after five days in the yellow jersey he had worn for 73 days in previous Tours, the colors were torn from his shoulders as LeMond and Switzerland's Urs Zimmerman pulled away on the Col de Vars.
Hinault was biting back the agony of a pulled knee muscle but as he struggled he heard a motorcycle photographer order his driver to stay with the Frenchman, saying: "Hinault is going to quit."
Goaded pride was sufficient pain-killer and eventually Hinault rode out the injury. Next day he and LeMond pedalled into the Alpe d'Huez mountain finish side by side to fill the first two placings.
LeMond, wearing the yellow jersey, eased slightly to allow Hinault to take victory. It was seen as a fragile truce to a war of nerves between the two.
Two days later Hinault won a time trial at St Etienne where a year before he had broken his nose in a crash.
That success was his 28th and final Tour stage win. Three days later, LeMond stood atop the Paris podium. Next to him was Hinault in the spotted jersey of best climber.
MIGUEL INDURAIN (Spain) 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995
Indurain's five straight Tour triumphs sent cycling to the top of television ratings in soccer-mad Spain. Streets were named after him and a hymn composed in his honor.
The laid-back Indurain took it all in his lanky stride and dedicated victory to the people of Spain.
"Win or lose, I try to remain the same person. I am proud of what I have done but you have to keep a perspective. It's just a bike race after all," said the man who was raised on a smallholding in the Navarre region with brother Prudencio, also a Tour rider, and three sisters.
His Tour philosophy was simple: Stick with the best climbers in the mountains and then pulverize them in the time trials.
"Aggression does not make me a better rider. I never shout or scream at my teammates. Everyone tells me that I never look as if I am suffering but when I watch videos of the race I remember the pain," he said.
In 1995 the temperature was close to 34 degrees Celsius on the roads between the Belgian towns of Huy and Seraing. Bjarne Riis stoked up the competition and with five of the 54 kms remaining Indurain discovered he was five seconds slower than the Dane.
By the chequered flag he was 12 seconds faster and had destroyed his other rivals in the process.
Forty-eight hours later, in the first Alpine stage, Alex Zuelle went more than five minutes clear of Indurain on the Cormet de Roselend climb.
The final charge to La Plagne, rising 1,970 meters, saw Indurain's lieutenants, Gerard Rue and Vicente Aparacio, in steaming pursuit. Their work done, the pair fell back and Indurain took over.
One by one his rivals struggled to stay in his wake then peeled away frustrated and gasping as he closed to within two minutes two seconds of stage-winner Zuelle.
So Indurain was destined for another triumphant ride along the Champs Elysees and into Tour history.
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