A belated happy birthday to Lucien Van Impe, who was was born on October 20, 1946.
The Belgian climbing ace won the Tour de France once, was 2nd once, and was 3rd three times.
His main claim to fame is that he won the Mountains Jersey six times, tying Federico Bahamontes’ record (at that time) in the Tour de France.
Van Impe also won the Mountains Jersey twice in the Giro d’Italia.
Lucien Van Impe was a pure climber who rode the Tour de France fifteen times, one behind Joop Zoetemelk’s record of sixteen Tours.
Van Impe won the 1976 Tour de France in front of Joop Zoetemelk of Holland and Raymond Poulidor of France.
Van Impe was also 2nd in the 1981 Tour de France behind Bernard Hinault of France.
In addition, Van Impe was 3rd in the 1971 Tour de France behind Eddy Merckx of Belgium and Joop Zoetemelk.
Van Impe was 3rd in the 1975 Tour de France behind Bernard Thevenet of France and Eddy Merckx.
Van Impe was also 3rd in the 1977 Tour de France behind Bernard Thevenet of France and Hennie Kuiper of Holland.
Van Impe won six Tour de France Mountains Jerseys, the second person to do this after Federico Bahamontes.
Van Impe won these in 1971, 1972, 1975, 1977, 1981, and 1983.
Van Impe also won two Mountains Jerseys in the Giro d’Italia, in 1982 and 1983.
Van Impe was a talented climber who competed against Eddy Merckx and Bernard Hinault at the height of the careers.
Van Impe’s sole victory in the Tour de France came in 1976, sandwiched between the Merckx and Hinault peak years.
Van Impe’s 1976 Tour victory was coached by ex-rider Cyrille Guimard.
On a decisive mountain stage, Van Impe was content to let the contenders fight it out then wait until the end of the stage to attack.
Guimard would have none of this and sternly instructed Van Impe to attack.
Van Impe attacked and put a time gap of over three minutes into Zoetemelk, enough for overall victory against his primary foe in that year’s race.
The rest of the field trickled in, some more than 46 minutes behind. The stage time limit was set at 10 percent of the winner’s time.
Only 52 riders were to make the cut. The rest of the field, 43 riders, were to be eliminated until the race officials relaxed the rule.
Gelukkige verjaardag Lucien!
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