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Federico Bahamontes Photo Gallery

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Major victories | Professional teams | Photo gallery |

Federico Bahamontes (July 9, 1928 - August 8, 2023) raced professionally from 1953 to 1965. Knowledgable people have ranked him as cycling's greatest climber. In fact, the French sports magazine l'Equipe assembled a jury of riders that included Bernard Hinault and Thomas Voeckler and they agreed that the Spaniard was the best-ever in the mountains.

For much of his career Bahamontes was obsessed with winning the Tour's "best climber" classification and was unconcerned with his general classification time and placing. Being a terrible descender, he was content with being the first to each summit and then willing to wait for the others for company on the way down. One time he bolted up a mountain and his competitors found him waiting for them, eating an ice cream cone.

In 1959 he signed to ride for the Tricofilina-Coppi team. Somehow Fausto Coppi convinced the Spaniard that he could win the Tour de France rather than just going for the Mountains prize. Late in the race Bahamontes took over the overall lead. There were two reasons. First, his spectacular climbing ability. Also, the French were riven with jealousies and some riders preferred a Bahamontes victory to a win by the difficult but superb Henry Anglade, who probably would have won had his countrymen not combined to help Bahamontes.

Bahamontes won the 1959 Tour and then went on to later come in second and third in the French national Tour.

By 1965, Bahamontes had run out of gas, unable to climb with his old verve. He abandoned the 1965 Tour and never raced professionally again.

Major victories and high placings:










Professional teams:


Federico Bahamontes crests the Toumalet in the 1954 Tour de France

Federico Bahamontes crests the Tourmalet in the 1954 Tour de France

Federico Bahamontes in the 1956 Giro d'Italia

Bahamontes in the 1956 Giro d'Italia: stage 15, Bologna - San Luca

Federico Bahamontes in the 1956 Tour de France

Bahamontes in the 1956 Tour de France, where he rode to fourth place overall.

Federico Bahamontes ride stage 15 of the 1959 Tour de France

Federico Bahamontes riding in his distictive upright style in stage 15 of the 1959 Tour de France

Federico Bahamontes and Charly Gaul

Two of cycling's greatest climbers: Bahamontes and Charly Gaul in the 1959 Tour de France's 17th stage.

Feerico Bahamontes in yellow

Bahamontes in yellow in the 1959 Tour de France.

Behamontes with Yvette Horner

1959 Tour de France: Bahamontes in yellow with singer Yvette Horner

Federico Bahamontes in the 1960 Tour de France

Federico Bahamontes in the 1960 Tour de France

Federico Bahamontes at train station after 1960 Tour de France

Bahamontes abandoned the 1960 Tour de France after just a few days. Here he waits for his train back to Spain.

Here's a wonderfully colorized picture of Bahamontes at the train station sent to me by cycle photographer John Pierce. Mr. Pierce sent me these addtional notes: That is 1960 DF stage 3 to Dunkerque. Bahamontes fell ill and had to abandon the race before it was properly under way. A poignant photograph (above the colorized photo) captured him sitting on a railway platform astride his suitcase, smartly dressed as he waited for the train to take him home.

In 1963 he finished in second place and was third in 1964. He won the race in 1959. He was such a good climber he won the mountains classification six times overall. In 1959 at the summit of the Col de Romeyere with broken spokes he sat down and some spectators who famously gave him an ice cream. As a poor descender he needed a new wheel and was awaiting a service car he was so far in front.

Federico Bahamontes and Julio Jimenez

Tour de France in the early 1960s: Bahamontes and Julio Jimenez climb L'Alpe d'Huez

Poulidor, Anquetil and Bahamontes in the 1963 Tour de France

1963 Tour de France: Raymond Poulidor leads Bahamontes, Jacques Anquetil rides to their left.

Federico Bahamontes in the 1964 Tour de France

Federico Bahamontes in the 1964 Tour de France

Poulidor, Anquetil and Bahmontes in the 1964 Tour de France

Final podium of the 1964 Tour de France, from left: 2nd place Raymond Poulidor, winner Jacques Anquetil and 3rd place Federico Bahamontes.

Federico Bahamontes in his bike shop.

After retiring from racing Bahamontes opened a bike shop in Toledo.

Bahamontes with Pierre Rolland

Bahamontes congratulates Pierre Rolland as the rider gets a climber's polka dot jersey.

Federico Bahamontes in polka dots

Federico having fun in a climber's polka-dot jersey

Federico Bahamontes and Raymond Poulidor

Bahamontes (left) and Raymond Poulidor, finally in yellow, at the 2013 Tour de France

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