The Most Famous

CYCLISTS from France

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This page contains a list of the greatest French Cyclists. The pantheon dataset contains 1,613 Cyclists, 174 of which were born in France. This makes France the birth place of the most number of Cyclists.

Top 10

The following people are considered by Pantheon to be the top 10 most legendary French Cyclists of all time. This list of famous French Cyclists is sorted by HPI (Historical Popularity Index), a metric that aggregates information on a biography’s online popularity. Visit the rankings page to view the entire list of French Cyclists.

Photo of Jacques Anquetil

1. Jacques Anquetil (1934 - 1987)

With an HPI of 64.13, Jacques Anquetil is the most famous French Cyclist.  His biography has been translated into 50 different languages on wikipedia.

Jacques Anquetil (pronounced [ʒak ɑ̃k.til]; 8 January 1934 – 18 November 1987) was a French road racing cyclist and the first cyclist to win the Tour de France five times, in 1957 and from 1961 to 1964. He stated before the 1961 Tour that he would gain the yellow jersey on day one and wear it all through the tour, a tall order with two previous winners in the field—Charly Gaul and Federico Bahamontes—but he did it. His victories in stage races such as the Tour were built on an exceptional ability to ride alone against the clock in individual time trial stages, which lent him the name "Monsieur Chrono". He won eight Grand Tours in his career, which was a record when he retired and has only since been surpassed by Eddy Merckx and Bernard Hinault.

Photo of Raymond Poulidor

2. Raymond Poulidor (1936 - 2019)

With an HPI of 62.75, Raymond Poulidor is the 2nd most famous French Cyclist.  His biography has been translated into 31 different languages.

Raymond Poulidor (French pronunciation: [ʁɛmɔ̃ pulidɔʁ]; 15 April 1936 – 13 November 2019), nicknamed "Pou-Pou" (pronounced [pu pu]), was a French professional racing cyclist, who rode for Mercier his entire career. His distinguished career coincided with two other outstanding riders – Jacques Anquetil and Eddy Merckx. This underdog position may have been the reason Poulidor was a favourite of the public. He was known as "The Eternal Second", because he never won the Tour de France despite finishing in second place three times, and in third place five times (including his final Tour at the age of 40). Despite his consistency, he never wore the yellow jersey as leader of the general classification in 14 Tours (of which he completed 12). He did win one Grand Tour, the 1964 Vuelta a España. Of the eighteen Grand Tours that he entered in his career, he finished in the top 10 fifteen times.

Photo of Bernard Hinault

3. Bernard Hinault (b. 1954)

With an HPI of 60.81, Bernard Hinault is the 3rd most famous French Cyclist.  His biography has been translated into 43 different languages.

Bernard Hinault (pronounced [bɛʁ.naʁ i.no]; born 14 November 1954) is a French former professional road cyclist. With 147 professional victories, including five times the Tour de France, he is often named among the greatest cyclists of all time. In his career, Hinault entered a total of thirteen Grand Tours. He abandoned one of them while in the lead, finished in 2nd place on two occasions and won the other ten, putting him one behind Merckx for the all-time record. No rider since Hinault has achieved more than seven. Hinault started cycling as an amateur in his native Brittany. After a successful amateur career, he signed with the Gitane–Campagnolo team to turn professional in 1975. He took breakthrough victories at both the Liège–Bastogne–Liège classic and the Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré stage race in 1977. In 1978, he won his first two Grand Tours: the Vuelta a España and the Tour de France. In the following years, he was the most successful professional cyclist, adding another Tour victory in 1979 and a win at the 1980 Giro d'Italia. Although a knee injury forced him to quit the 1980 Tour de France while in the lead, he returned to win the World Championship road race later in the year. He added another Tour victory in 1981, before completing his first Giro-Tour double in 1982. After winning the 1983 Vuelta a España, a return of his knee problems forced him to miss that year's Tour de France, won by his teammate Laurent Fignon. Conflict within the Renault team led to his leaving and joining La Vie Claire. With his new team, he raced the 1984 Tour de France, but lost to Fignon by over ten minutes. He recovered the following year, winning another Giro-Tour double with the help of teammate Greg LeMond. In the 1986 Tour de France, he engaged in an intra-team rivalry with LeMond, who won his first of three Tours. Hinault retired at the end of the season. As of 2024 he is the most recent French winner of the Tour de France. After his cycling career, Hinault turned to farming, while fulfilling enforcement duties for the organisers of the Tour de France until 2016. All through his career, Hinault was known by the nickname Le Blaireau ("The Badger"); he associated himself with the animal due to its aggressive nature, a trait he embodied on the bike. Within the peloton, Hinault assumed the role of patron, exercising authority over races he took part in.

Photo of Lucien Petit-Breton

4. Lucien Petit-Breton (1882 - 1917)

With an HPI of 59.46, Lucien Petit-Breton is the 4th most famous French Cyclist.  His biography has been translated into 34 different languages.

Lucien Georges Mazan (18 October 1882 – 20 December 1917) was a French racing cyclist (pseudonym: Lucien Petit-Breton, pronounced [ly.sjɛ̃ pə.ti.bʁə.tɔ̃]), known as the first two-time winner of the Tour de France. He was born in Plessé, Loire-Atlantique, a part of Brittany, now part of Pays de la Loire. When he was six he moved with his parents to Buenos Aires, Argentina, where he took the nationality. His cycling career started when he won a bike in a lottery at the age of sixteen. As his father wanted him to do a 'real' job, he adapted the nickname Lucien Breton for races, to deceive his father. Later he changed it to Petit-Breton, because there already was another cyclist called Lucien Breton.

Photo of Henri Cornet

5. Henri Cornet (1884 - 1941)

With an HPI of 58.68, Henri Cornet is the 5th most famous French Cyclist.  His biography has been translated into 30 different languages.

Henri Cornet (born Henri Jardry; 4 August 1884 – 18 March 1941) was a French cyclist who won the 1904 Tour de France. He is its youngest winner, just short of his 20th birthday.

Photo of Roger Pingeon

6. Roger Pingeon (1940 - 2017)

With an HPI of 57.27, Roger Pingeon is the 6th most famous French Cyclist.  His biography has been translated into 28 different languages.

Roger Pingeon (pronounced [ʁɔʒe pɛ̃ʒɔ̃]; 28 August 1940 – 19 March 2017) was a professional road bicycle racer from France.

Photo of Laurent Fignon

7. Laurent Fignon (1960 - 2010)

With an HPI of 56.90, Laurent Fignon is the 7th most famous French Cyclist.  His biography has been translated into 38 different languages.

Laurent Patrick Fignon (French pronunciation: [loʁɑ̃ fiɲɔ̃]; 12 August 1960 – 31 August 2010) was a French professional road bicycle racer who won the Tour de France in 1983 and 1984, as well as the Giro d'Italia in 1989. He held the title of FICP World No. 1 in 1989. Fignon came close to winning the Tour de France for a third time in 1989 but was narrowly defeated by Greg LeMond by 8 seconds, marking the closest margin ever to decide the Tour. Fignon won many classic races, including consecutive vicstories in Milan–San Remo in 1988 and 1989. He died from cancer in 2010.

Photo of Octave Lapize

8. Octave Lapize (1887 - 1917)

With an HPI of 56.63, Octave Lapize is the 8th most famous French Cyclist.  His biography has been translated into 27 different languages.

Octave Lapize (pronounced [ɔktav lapiz]; 24 October 1887 – 14 July 1917) was a French professional road racing cyclist and track cyclist. Most famous for winning the 1910 Tour de France and a bronze medal at the 1908 Summer Olympics in the men's 100 kilometres, he was a three-time winner of one-day classics, Paris–Roubaix and Paris–Brussels.

Photo of François Faber

9. François Faber (1887 - 1915)

With an HPI of 56.01, François Faber is the 9th most famous French Cyclist.  His biography has been translated into 27 different languages.

François Faber (pronounced [fʁɑ̃.swa fa.bɛʁ]; 26 January 1887 – 9 May 1915) was a Luxembourgian racing cyclist. He was born in France. He was the first foreigner to win the Tour de France in 1909, and his record of winning 5 consecutive stages still stands. He died in World War I while fighting for France. Faber was known for his long solos; he is the only rider in Tour de France history to lead solo more than 1000 km.

Photo of Louison Bobet

10. Louison Bobet (1925 - 1983)

With an HPI of 55.98, Louison Bobet is the 10th most famous French Cyclist.  His biography has been translated into 28 different languages.

Louis "Louison" Bobet (pronounced [lwi.zɔ̃ bɔ.be]; 12 March 1925 – 13 March 1983) was a French professional road racing cyclist. He was the first great French rider of the post-war period and the first rider to win the Tour de France in three successive years, from 1953 to 1955. His career included the national road championship (1950 and 1951), Milan–San Remo (1951), Giro di Lombardia (1951), Critérium International (1951 & 52), Paris–Nice (1952), Grand Prix des Nations (1952), world road championship (1954), Tour of Flanders (1955), Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré (1955), Tour de Luxembourg (1955), Paris–Roubaix (1956) and Bordeaux–Paris (1959).

People

Pantheon has 216 people classified as French cyclists born between 1876 and 2000. Of these 216, 171 (79.17%) of them are still alive today. The most famous living French cyclists include Bernard Hinault, Bernard Thévenet, and Lucien Aimar. The most famous deceased French cyclists include Jacques Anquetil, Raymond Poulidor, and Lucien Petit-Breton. As of April 2024, 43 new French cyclists have been added to Pantheon including Charles Coste, Victor Fontan, and Michel Vermeulin.

Living French Cyclists

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Deceased French Cyclists

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Newly Added French Cyclists (2024)

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Overlapping Lives

Which Cyclists were alive at the same time? This visualization shows the lifespans of the 25 most globally memorable Cyclists since 1700.