12 Famous Cyclists You Should Know

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The cycling world is full of characters, legends, and heroes.

These famous cyclists have earned their places in the history books with legendary wins, viral videos, and incredible stunts.

We thought that we should put together a list of some of the world’s most influential and famous cyclists. All the cyclists in this list are worthy of your attention for various reasons.

In this article, we will showcase:

  • 6 Of The Most Famous (and Infamous) Road Cyclists In The World
  • 6 Of The World’s Greatest Mountain Bikers 

Are you ready to learn about cycling icons?

12 Famous Cyclists: Title Image

6 Of The Most Famous (and Infamous) Road Cyclists In The World

#1. Lance Armstrong

Lance Armstrong cycling at the Tour de France.

Lance Armstrong is undoubtedly the most famous cyclist in the world – and the most controversial figure the sport has ever seen.

Some people still regard him as a legend, while others will always see him as a cheat.

Everything Armstrong achieved, he destroyed by himself. His incredible success throughout his career drew the eyes of the world to cycling, especially in the United States.

He won the Tour de France seven times and inspired a whole generation to ride bikes. He also battled cancer and generously contributed to cancer charities.

However, after a doping scandal, he was stripped of all his titles, including an Olympic Bronze medal.

He ultimately confessed to using performance-enhancing drugs during every one of his Tour victories, disgracing himself in a scandal that shook the sport to its core.

Some people regard Lance Armstrong as the world’s biggest cheat. But you will have to make up your own mind.

#2. Chris Froome

Chris Froome sits on his Pinarello bike by the Channel Tunnel.

Chris Froome is a British road cyclist born and raised in Kenya (and later South Africa) who had a famous close rivalry with Sir Bradley Wiggins originating from his time as Wiggins’ domestique at Team Sky.

Froome specialized in time trials and climbing, the perfect combination for the Tour de France.

He is rated among the greatest road cyclists of all time, having won seven Grand Tours: four editions of the Tour de France (2013, 2015, 2016, and 2017), one Giro d’Italia (2018), and the Vuelta a España twice (2011 and 2017). 

#3. Peter Sagan

Peter Sagan in a supertuck position on his road bike.

Thanks to his success and character, Peter Sagan is one of the most famous cyclists. He is well known for entertaining fans with his quirky behavior and showmanship.

The Slovakian professional road racer enjoyed a successful junior cyclocross and mountain bike racing career. He won the junior cross-country race at the 2008 UCI Mountain Bike & Trials World Championships.

He then moved to road racing, where he is regarded as one of the world’s greatest cyclists. His victories include three consecutive World Championships and one European Championship, to name just a few.

Sagan also won the Tour de France Points Classification on his first five attempts and went on to win a record seven in total.

#4. Marianne Vos

Marianne Vos rides a time-trial bike.

Marianne Vos is incredibly versatile and has dominated the sport, making her one of the most famous cyclists of her era.

Her fans argue that she is the best cyclist of her generation, as she has won three world road cycling championships, two stages of the Tour de France Femmes 2022, seven cyclocross world championships, and two on the track, as well as two Olympic gold medals.

Vos won her first road championship in 2006 at the age of 19 and has dominated the sport ever since.

Her long list of achievements includes winning the Giro Rosa three times, which is arguably the most prominent women’s race in the world.

#5. Mario Cipollini

Mario Cipollini in a green cycling jersey.

Mario Cipollini is one of the world’s most famous cyclists, not just because of his extravagant dress sense, but because he accumulated 191 wins during his professional career.

Mario Cipollini became the world champion in 2002 after winning the Milan-San Remo, Gent-Wevelgem races.

He is regarded as the best sprint cyclist of his generation. He was nicknamed “Super Mario” after winning 42 individual stages of the Giro d’Italia.

He also won 12 Tour de France stages but never finished a race, as he would often skip the mountain stages in favor of the beach.

  • Note: Since the publication of this article, Cipollini was convicted of domestic abuse and sentenced to three years in prison for violent assaults against his ex-wife Sabrina Landucci, and her new partner, Silvio Giusti.

#6. Eddy Merckx

Eddy Merckx riding a white bicycle.

Eddy Merckx was one of the most famous cyclists of the 1960s and 1970s, and arguably the greatest of all time.

He earned the nickname “The Cannibal” as he dominated the sport and won every major race he entered.

The Belgian racer won the Tour de France and Giro d’Italia five times each and won the Vuelta a España once. He also took 65 Grand Tour stage wins, which is an achievement that has never been matched.

Eddy Merckx didn’t just dominate the Grand Tours; he was highly successful at the iconic Milan-San Remo, which he won seven times.

He was also the world road race champion three times, and is one of only three men to win all five of cycling’s historic Monument races.

He had an astonishing 525 victories during his career, which makes Merckx the most successful cyclist of all time.

6 Of The World’s Greatest Mountain Bikers 

#1. Greg Minnaar

Greg Minaar riding at Val d'Isere.

South African Greg Minnaar is one of the world’s top downhill mountain bike racers.

He has been in the game for over 20 years and is the most successful downhill mountain bike racer of all time.

He has won 22 World Cup downhill races, which is more than any other Elite Men’s downhill racer in history. He has a string of other victories under his belt, too, including three gold medals, four silver medals, and three bronze medals.

He is widely regarded as a contender for the title of GOAT (Greatest Of All Time). His extensive downhill racing career continues as he will race for the Santa Cruz Syndicate in 2022.

Although Greg’s home is in South Africa, he spends much of the summer in the French Alps between races. If you are familiar with Morzine, France, you can often see him on the trails in local bars with other pro riders and locals.

#2. Danny MacAskill

Danny MacAskill was an unknown mountain biker until he made a film and published it on YouTube. Danny’s film wowed the world in 2009 with his gravity-defying mountain bike trials skills.

The success of the first video prompted Danny to release many more videos featuring never-seen-before stunts in creative locations.

One of the great things about his videos is that he reveals how each of them was made. This highlights the pain and determination required to make them.

Check out his YouTube channel to be genuinely amazed!

#3. Martyn Ashton

Martyn Ashton performs bike stunts on a beam.

Martyn Ashton is another legendary mountain biker. With over twenty years of experience under his belt, he became one of the best-known cyclists in the world.

He is a former World Expert Biketrial Champion and has won many British Biketrial national titles. He is also a Guinness World Record Holder for the Mountain Bike High Jump.

In 2012 Martyn took his mountain bike skills to road bikes and created Road Bike Party. This incredible YouTube video has reached 14 million views and sees Martyn backflipping a road bike and hopping around in impossible places.

Unfortunately, Martyn was paralyzed in an accident during a live show. He continues to work in the mountain bike industry as a presenter for GMBN. Even though he is wheelchair-bound, Martyn still rides an electric downhill mountain bike.

He is an inspiration to anyone, whether you are a cyclist or not. You will see what I mean if you watch his incredible TED Talk:

#4. Rachel Atherton

Rachel Atherton descends a downhill mountain bike course.

Rachel Atherton is regarded as the queen of downhill mountain biking. She has been winning races since 2005 and was named Times Young Sportswoman of the Year.

In 2008, Rachel Dominated the women’s downhill circuit, winning the World Cup overall and taking World Championship gold. Since then, she has racked up six UCI World Cup titles and five World Champion titles.

She recovered from illness to win the “double-double” in 2015 and 2016. She made history in 2016, being the first downhill racer to win every World Cup round.

Rachel claimed her sixth Overall World Cup and won her fifth World Championship in 2018. These achievements make her arguably the greatest female downhill mountain biker of all time.

Since then, she launched Atherton Bikes along with her brother Gee. So you can expect to see the Atherton name on the World Cup circuit for many years to come.

#5. Loic Bruni

Loic Bruni holds his world championship medal on the podium.

Loic Bruni is a French downhill mountain bike racer and a three-time world champion in the elite category. He is one of the most famous cyclists in the mountain bike world.

He started to ride for the Lapierre Gravity Republic as a junior in 2011 and became the junior world champion. He also won the title in 2012 while managing to get on the podium in the elite class in the same year.

Loic is often on the podium to this day, and in 2019 entered the history books by defending his 2018 World Championship title. This made him the only the second male rider to win three World Championships gold medals in a row.

However, Loic missed out on the 2020 title to fellow Frenchman Loris Vergier. But he managed to return to the top in 2021, proving he’s one of the world’s leading downhill riders.

#6. Jolanda Neff

Jolanda Neff races in the world champion's Rainbow Jersey.

Jolanda Neff is an incredible cross-country mountain bike racer from Switzerland. Her achievements have made her one of the most famous cyclists.

In 2017, Jolanda won the mountain bike cross-country World Championship. But her list of wins includes the XCO World Cup Championship, four-time XCO European Champion, six-time Swiss XCO Champion, and the winner of 12 XCO World Cups. 

In addition to all this, she even managed to win an Olympic gold medal at the Tokyo Games.

Are You Inspired By These Famous Cyclists?

If you have been inspired by the incredible success stories of these famous cyclists, jump on your bike as soon as you can. But in the meantime, you might want to check out the blogs below to improve your skills!

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Tom is an experienced freelance cycling journalist and mountain biking expert who competed nationally in the junior ranks. Now based in the world-famous mountain biking destination of Morzine in the French Alps, Tom spends his summers shredding off-road trails by bike and his winters on the same mountains on a snowboard.

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