French cycling is a testament to the country’s passion for sport and its commitment to excellence. Let’s learn about the best French cyclists that paved the way.
French cyclists have been dominating the cycling world for decades. Known for their endurance, speed, and tactical skills, French cyclists have won numerous competitions and accolades, from the World Championships to the Olympic Games. The culture is also bolstered by homing some of the most prestigious cycling events in the world, such as the Tour de France and Paris-Roubaix,
French cycling continues to produce top-level talent, with current stars like Julian Alaphilippe and Thibaut Pinot leading the way. With a strong tradition of cycling in the country and a wealth of talented riders coming through the ranks, there is no doubt that French cycling will continue to produce some of the best riders in the world. You might also be interested in our guide on famous Irish cyclists.
- 1 Golden Era Of French Cycling
- 2 Modern French Cyclists
- 3 Female French Cyclists
Golden Era Of French Cycling
French cycling had its golden era in the 1950s and 1960s, with several French cyclists making their mark on the sport.
1. Jacques Anquetil
Jacques Anquetil was a French cyclist who won the Tour de France five times between 1957 and 1964. He was known for his time-trialing ability and is one of the only cyclists to win all three Grand Tours: the Tour de France, the Giro d’Italia, and the Vuelta a España.
Anquetil’s style of riding was characterized by his smooth pedaling and his ability to maintain a high cadence. He was also known for his rivalry with Raymond Poulidor, which captivated French cycling fans during the 1960s.
2. Raymond Poulidor
Raymond Poulidor was a talented cyclist in his own right but had been nicknamed “The Eternal Second” since he came close to winning the Tour de France several times but never succeeded.
Still, he came first in the 1964 Vuelta a España. Three years earlier, he won the Milan-San Remo and the road race at the French National Championships.
3. Bernard Hinault
Bernard Hinault is another French cyclist who is often counted among the best cyclists of all time. Hinault won the Tour de France five times between 1978 and 1985 and is one of the only cyclists to win all three Grand Tours. Hinault was known for his aggressive riding style and his ability to climb mountains.
4. Louison Bobet
Louison Bobet was a French cyclist who went down in history for winning the Tour de France three times in a row from 1953 to 1955. He first competed in the Tour de France in 1947; his wins later in his career are a testament to his hard work.
Some of his other achievements include:
- 1952 Paris-Nice winner
- 1955 Tour of Flanders winner
- 1959 Bordeaux–Paris winner
Modern French Cyclists
France is home to some of the best cyclists in history and continues to produce top-level riders today. In this section, we will take a look at some of the best modern French cyclists:
5. Julian Alaphilippe
Julian Alaphilippe is one of the most exciting riders in the peloton today. He has been a professional cyclist since 2014 and has quickly established himself as one of the best climbers and one-day racers in the world.
He is a three-time La Fleche Wallonne winner, claiming victory in 2018, 2019, and 2021. In 2019, he won the prestigious Milan-San Remo. More recently, he came first in the Faun-Ardèche Classic in 2023.
6. Thibaut Pinot
Thibaut Pinot is a talented climber who has been a professional cyclist since 2010. He has finished in the top 10 of the Tour de France three times, with his best result being 3rd place in 2014. He has won stage races in the Tour de France as well as the Giro D’Italia and Vuelta a España.
He has also won several other races, including the Tour of Lombardy and Critérium International. Pinot is known for his climbing ability and his aggressive racing style.
7. Romain Bardet
Romain Bardet is another talented climber who has been a professional cyclist since 2012. He has finished in the top 10 of the Tour de France several times and has won multiple stage races.
He has also won several other races, including Tour of the Alps. Bardet is known for his climbing ability.
Female French Cyclists
French women have made a significant impact on the world of cycling, with many of them winning multiple championships and setting records. Here are some of the most notable French female cyclists:
8. Jeannie Longo
Jeannie Longo is considered one of the greatest female cyclists of all time. She has won 60 national titles and 13 world titles. Longo also won a gold medal in the 1996 Olympic road race event.
Although now in her 60s, Longo still continues to cycle. Check out our guide on famous female cyclists for more.
9. Pauline Ferrand-Prevot
Pauline Ferrand-Prevot is a six-time world champion in three cycling disciplines. She has five UCI Mountain Bike World Championship wins under her belt, as well as several Cyclo-Cross World Championship and Road Race World Championship wins.
10. Marion Clignet
Marion Clignet is a former French professional cyclist who specialized in track cycling. She won two silver medals in the individual pursuit at the 1996 and 2000 Olympic Games and also earned five gold World Championship medals throughout her career. She held the 3000m pursuit world record from 1996 to 2000.
This article was researched with the help of OpenAI and fact-checked and edited by our human editor.