Make mine a double! It went out of fashion during the Lance Armstrong era but Alberto Contador’s Giro-Vuelta double has revived an exclusive tradition in which the great champions show the ultimate in drive, endurance and nerve.
It’s the ultimate stage racing achievement — winning two Grand Tours in the space of a single season. Before this year, only eight riders had managed it. When Alberto Contador crossed the Vuelta finishing line in Madrid, wearing the gold jersey of the race winner, he became the ninth.
In fact it’s a decade since the last time anybody succeeded in winning a Grand Tour double, the longest gap since Fausto Coppi first managed to win the Giro and the Tour in 1949. This is partly down to the fact that the received wisdom during the Lance Armstrong era (well, the first one, between 1999 and 2005), was that winning two Grand Tours in a year was impossible.But with Contador’s Giro and Vuelta triumphs, doubles are back in fashion.
Fausto Coppi twice won the Giro and Tour in the same year, although the Italian never won a Vuelta. Jacques Anquetil also managed two doubles, a Vuelta and Tour in 1963, and a Giro-Tour double the following year.
Eddy Merckx was the only rider ever to have won four Grand Tour doubles, followed by Bernard Hinault, who got close with three. In 1981, unsung Italian Giovanni Battaglin took a rare Vuelta-Giro double, while Stephen Roche won the Giro and Tour in 1987. Miguel Indurain won two consecutive Giro-Tour doubles, and Marco Pantani was the last man to achieve this feat, in 1998. Here we look at all nine riders, identify the key stages of their wins, and include reports from the archives of our sister title, Cycling Weekly.Like the Cycle Sport blog? Subscribe to our magazine and you will be able to access our latest comprehensive content!