5 Truly Inspirational Pro Cyclists
Greats of the Cycling World
Cycling is a sport that takes true dedication. To compete, athletes must go through rigorous training regimes and strict diets in order to be at peak form for the event in which they are competing. As cycling has so many varied competitions (from sprint races to the tour de France), competitors face very different challenges.
Some cycling competitors have overcome these and other challenges in spectacular fashion and these become the heroes or greats of world cycling.
Here we run down 5 of the most inspirational cyclists to have put foot to pedal…
From a British point of view, Bradley Wiggins is a true inspiration. The tour de France is one of the most gruelling and spectacular road race in the cycling calendar and with on average 22 teams of 9 riders it takes a special kind of rider to stand out from a pack of almost 200. In a competition that has traditionally had its spoils shared between French, Belgian, Spanish and the occasionally spectacular American, Bradley Wiggins made history in 2012 by becoming the first British rider to win the overall competition in its 110 year history.
Not content with this, Wiggins then went on to take gold in the time trial at the 2012 London Olympics , cementing himself as one of the UK’s finest cyclists.
Another cyclist famed for his tour de France exploits, Lance Armstrong was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 1996 that had spread to his brain and lungs. Despite a poor prognosis and extensive chemotherapy and brain and testicular surgery Armstrong overcame his illness and went on to achieve what at the time would be considered impossible. He went on to dominate the tour de France, winning it a record breaking seven consecutive times.
He later went on to found the Lance Armstrong Foundation for cancer support making him an inspiring philanthropist and a hero for his truly indomitable spirit.
Widely regarded as the most accomplished rider that cycling has ever known, Eddy Merckx would go on to win the tour de France 5 times, the giro d’italia 5 times, the Vuelta a Espana once and the world championship 3 times as a professional.
In addition to this he would break the world hour record in a career as one of the most prolific winners ever.
What made Merckx so inspiring was his ever present will to win. He was nicknamed ‘the cannibal’ by other cyclists because of his ever present will to win each and every stage. While most cyclists will concede favours to other competitors to recall later, Merckx rarely needed any favours from his competition.
Despite the fact that Hoy is an eleven time world championship racer, it is his Olympic triumphs that are truly inspiring. In the Beijing 2008 Olympics, Hoy would not only become Scotland’s most successful Olympian, but the first Briton to win 3 Olympic golds in one Olympics in 100 years. Not content with that, Hoy would win further golds in the 2012 London games creating a total Olympic tally of 6 Golds and 1 silver, making him the most successful British Olympian in history.
Monique Van der Vorst
A story that truly epitomises the ‘trials and tribulations’ of cycling, Monique Van der Vorst lost the use of both her legs due to unfortunate complications during a routine ankle surgery at the age of 13. It was during her therapy that she turned to hand cycling. She faced further woes due to a car crash in 2008 that left her completely paralysed from the waist down. Despite this, in the Beijing 2008 Paralympic games she went on to win 2 medals and then be named Disabled Athlete of the Year in 2009.
In an amazing twist of fate, it would be another accident that changed her life once again but this time miraculously returning feeling to her legs and even her ability to walk. Through further therapy she was able to take to a bike and will now be competing in the able-bodied world championships.
Lawrence Mitchell is cycling enthusiast. He owns 2 hybrid bikes that allow him to take on any obstacle.