Quick Bit: The Tour de France concludes on July 24. It is one of three annual major multi-stage road races alongside the Giro d’Italia and the Vuelta a Espana.

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The 2022 Tour de France began on July 1, with this year’s Grand Depart taking place in Copenhagen — somewhat fittingly as it turned out, with Danish rider Jonas Vingegaard ending Tadej Pogacar’s reign in the general classification.

Denmark became the 10th country to host the opening stages before the event returns to familiar terrain in France, with fabled stages such as the climb to Alpe d’Huez and the conclusion on the Champs-Elysees all present and correct.

Le Tour is unquestionably the premier race in road cycling but it forms part of a holy trinity of multi-stage events that stand above the rest. Each is associated with western European countries that together represent the sport’s heartlands.

Here, we tell you all you need to know about the Grand Tours.

What are cycling’s Grand Tours?

The Tour de France sits as the second of the Grand Tours in the calendar. This will be its second year back in its traditional July staging after being moved to later in the year in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

In May, the Giro d’Italia is the first Grand Tour of the year, with the Vuelta a Espana coming in August/September.

The Spanish race was originally held in April but moved in 1995 to avoid clashing with the Giro and double up as preparation for the UCI Road World Championship in October.

Each of the Grand Tours takes place over a three-week time span.

What year did the Grand Tours start? What do newspapers have to do with them?

The inaugural Tour de France, won by Maurice Garin, took place in 1903. The first edition of the Giro d’Italia came six years later in 1909.

Both races were launched by sports newspapers as a means of increasing their visibility and boosting circulation. L’Auto, a precursor to L’Equipe, was behind the Tour de France and La Gazzetta dello Sport followed suit with the Giro.

L’Auto was published on distinctive yellow newsprint, while Gazzetta’s pages remain famously pink. This is the origin of the Tour de France general classification leader wearing a yellow jersey and the corresponding rider in the Giro being decked out in pink.

MORE: Who is Tadej Pogacar? Cycling superstar looking to make history with third successive Tour de France win

The Vuelta a Espana did not launch until 1935 and was interrupted initially by the Spanish Civil War and then the Second World War. However, it has run every year from 1955 onwards.

Publishers of daily newspaper Informaciones noted the success of the Tour de France and the Giro d’Italia, and the Vuelta was born.

Which riders have won all three Grand Tours?

Even allowing for the Vuelta now occupying a slot later in the year, the level of exertion required to win each Grand Tour means the elite general classification contenders have to pick and choose which they will target.

As such, no one has ever won all three in the same year, basically on the grounds of physical impossibility.

Seven riders have won all three over the course of their careers: Jacques Anquetil, Felice Grimondi, Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault, Alberto Contador, Vincenzo Nibali and Chris Froome.

Here’s how their records stack up. Hinault and Contador are the only riders to have won each Grand Tour at least twice.

Cyclist
Tour wins
Giro wins
Vuelta wins
Jacques Anquetil (FRA)
5 (1957, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964)
2 (1960, 1964)
1 (1963)
Felice Gimondi (ITA)
1 (1965)
3 (1967, 1969, 1976)
1 (1968)
Eddy Merckx (BEL)
5 (1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1974)
5 (1968, 1970, 1972, 1973, 1974)
1 (1973)
Bernard Hinault (FRA)
5 (1978, 1979, 1981, 1982, 1985)
3 (1980, 1982, 1985)
2 (1978, 1983)
Alberto Contador (ESP)
2 (2007, 2009)
2 (2008, 2015)
3 (2008, 2012, 2014)
Vincenzo Nibali (ITA)
1 (2014)
2 (2013, 2016)
1 (2010)
Chris Froome (GBR)
4 (2013, 2015, 2016, 2017)
1 (2018)
2 (2011, 2017)

Who has won the most Grand Tours?

Merckx’s dominance of the sport in the late 1960s through the early to mid-1970s leaves him out in front on 11, ahead of fellow great Hinault.

Lance Armstrong would have been among the group tied on seven, alongside Contador, Froome, Fausto Coppi and Miguel Indurain had he not been stripped of all his Tour de France titles for doping offences.

The discredited American’s seven in a row at Le Tour between 1999 and 2005 accounted for all his Grand Tour successes. He did not ride at the Giro or the Vuelta during any of those years.

Cyclist
Total Grand Tour wins
Tour wins
Giro wins
Vuelta wins
Eddy Merckx (BEL)
11
5 (1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1974)
5 (1968, 1970, 1972, 1973, 1974)
1 (1973)
Bernard Hinault (FRA)
10
5 (1978, 1979, 1981, 1982, 1985)
3 (1980, 1982, 1985)
2 (1978, 1983)
Jacques Anquetil (FRA)
9
5 (1957, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964)
2 (1960, 1964)
1 (1963)
Fausto Coppi
7
2 (1949, 1952)
5 (1940, 1947, 1949, 1952, 1953)

Miguel Indurain
7
5 (1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995)
2 (1992, 1993)

Alberto Contador (ESP)
7
2 (2007, 2009)
2 (2008, 2015)
3 (2008, 2012, 2014)
Chris Froome (GBR)
7
4 (2013, 2015, 2016, 2017)
1 (2018)
2 (2011, 2017)

Who has won the most stages at Grand Tours?

Mark Cavendish drew level with Merckx’s all-time figure of 34 Tour de France stage wins at last year’s race, but the Belgian is still clear in terms of overall Grand Tour stage wins.

Mario Cipollini’s 42 stage wins at the Giro d’Italia are the most at any single Grand Tour.

Cyclist
Total Grand Tour stage wins
Tour
Giro
Vuelta
Eddy Merckx (BEL)
64
34
24
6
Mario Cipollini (ITA)
57
12
42
3
Mark Cavendish (GBR)
53
34
16
3
Alessandro Petacchi (ITA)
48
6
22
20
Alfredo Binda
43
2
41

Bernard Hinault (FRA)
41
28
6
7

Originally found on Sporting News Read More

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