Jacques Anquetil is undoubtedly one of the greatest cyclists ever. Known as the man who could break nobody, but who could not be broken, his wins were never spectacular, but his major tour victories were always carefully planned and steadily ridden. Anquetil won the Tour de France five times (1957, 1961-64), the first cyclist to do so, and set a record not broken until Lance Armstrong came along (until Armstrong’s doping disqualifications). Anquetil is one of the five cyclists to win the Tour, the Giro d’Italia and the Vuelta à España, winning the Giro in 1960 and 1964, and the Vuelta in 1963. His great rival in the Tour was Raymond Poulidor, whom he always bested, with their greatest battle coming in the 1964 Tour, as they raced side-by-side up the Puy de Dôme. Near the end, Poulidor dropped Anquetil, who was barely conscious when he fell off his bike, but it was not enough to take the yellow jersey from Anquetil.
Anquetil’s only weakness was as a road sprinter. He was an excellent climber, but his forté was as a time trialist, at which, during his career, he was considered the greatest rider ever, winning the Grand Prix des Nations a record nine times. In 1956 he used this ability to set the World Hour Record. His other major victories include the 1966 Liège-Bastogne-Liège; 1964 Gent-Wevelgem; 1957, 1961, 1963, 1965-66 Paris-Nice; 1963-65 Dauphiné-Libéré; and 1965 Bordeaux-Paris. He won the Super Prestige Pernod International trophy in 1961, 1963, and 1965-66, emblematic of the year’s top cyclist. Anquetil is also one of the few professional cyclists who won an Olympic medal as an amateur, having helped France to a bronze in the 1952 team road race. The greatest disappointment of his career is that he never managed to win the world professional road race title, placing second in 1966 for his best finish, his lack of sprinting ability hampering that effort.