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Bicycle Rider Histories

Glossary of cycling terms | Glossary of riders' nicknames | Bicycle Quotes | List of old and new team sponsors, what they did, made or sold

Here you will find links to the stories of some of the greatest riders and races by some of cycling's best writers. I've included several pieces written by Owen Mulholland when he was the first American reporter accredited to the Tour. To read them is to remember that heady time when Americans first began to win the big races in Europe. They are in rough chronological order, earliest riders first.

Book Excerpts | Rider History Short Pieces | Owen Mulholland's Reporting |

Book Excerpts:

Charles Terront was France's first great cycling star. His solution to winning a 1,000 km track race was, um, unusual… From Cycling's 50 Craziest Stories

"My race has been won by a corpse", groaned Tour de France boss Henri Desgrange in 1929. In this excerpt, from Tour de France: the Inside Story, Les Woodland tells the story of how Desgrange threw out the team sponsors in 1930 and recast the Tour using national teams.

Guy Lapébie thought he had the gold medal won at the 1936 Olympics, but he inexplicably slowed just at the line. What happened? Les Woodland explains the strange finish to the Berlin Olympics's road race in this excerpt from The Olympics' 50 Craziest Stories.

The 1949 Paris-Roubaix finish was a mess. From Les Woodland's Cycling's 50 Craziest Stories

The War of the Gods: Gino Bartali vs Fausto Coppi and later Raymond Poulidor vs Jacques Anquetil. Les Woodland tells the story, an excerpt from his book Tour de France: The Inside Story

Charly Gaul: A Murderous Climber of a Murderous Climb. An excerpt from Cycling's 50 Triumphs and Tragedies: The Rise and Fall of Bicycle Racing's Champions by Les Woodland. I know you'll enjoy this, no one tells these stories better than Les Woodland.

Eddy Merckx and Roger de Vlaeminck arrive at Paris-Roubaix. An excerpt from Les Woodland's Paris-Roubaix: The Inside Story tells how it went

Eddy Merckx and the Tour of Flanders from Les Woodland's Tour of Flanders: The Inside Story

Rider History short pieces:

Cycling's 21 Greatest Climbers

Glenn Curtiss and the Wright Brothers were bicycle makers and mechanics before they became aviation immortals. Peter Joffre Nye tells the story of Curtiss' brilliant life and his long-running conflict with the Wright Brothers.

Albert Champion went from track racer to Paris-Roubaix champion then on to becoming a world-class industrialist. Peter Joffre Nye tells the story of this incredible man.

Marcel Berthet and Oscar Egg fought an intense battle for the World Hour Record in the years before World War I.

Charles Pélissier was one of the great Pélissier racing brothers but he he had a private struggle that nearly ruined his career.

Alfonsina Morini Strada was the only woman to ride a Grand Tour. Here's the fascinating story of Strada and the 1924 Giro.

Giuseppe Pancera was second in the '28 Giro and '29 Tour. The story of one of the greatest riders of the era, with photos.

Reggie McNamara was one of the greatest six-day racers of all time. Let Peter Joffre Nye tell you about him.

Vicente Trueba, "The Torrelavega Flea" was the first rider to win the Tour's King of the Mountains prize. Owen Mulholland tells his story.

The story of René Vietto's sacrifice to help Antonin Magne win the 1934 Tour is part of the DNA of the Tour de France. If you are a Tour fan, don't fail to read the story of young René Vietto

Peter Joffre Nye tells the story of Joseph Magnani, the forgotten American who raced Europe's best in the 1930's and 1940's

Biago Cavanna, the blind masseur who "saw with his hands" guided and cared for Fausto Coppi as well as Binda, Guerra and Girardengo.

Gino Bartali talked to David Herlihy about his long and magnificent career.

Fausto Coppi and Gino Bartali had a long running rivalry. Here's the story of two of the greatest riders of all time.

Briek Schotte, The Last of the Flandrians by Owen Mulholland

Russell Mockridge was Australia's greatest rider of the 1950s, and some will argue he's the greatest-ever Aussie bike racer. A short piece about Mockridge by Owen Mulholland

Jacques Anquetil was the first 5-time winner of the Tour de France. We've got two stories here about Anquetil by Owen Mulholland.

Jacques Anquetil, Party Boy
Anquetil, the greatest cycling stylist of all time

Before Stephen Roche and Sean Kelly there was Shay Elliot, the great Irish racer of the 50s.

Tom Simpson was one of the greatest English riders ever, but his death on Mt Ventoux is what he will always be remembered for.

Owen Mulholland writes about Eddy Merckx and his quest for the World Hour Record

Luis Ocaña was the only ride who could truly challenge Eddy Merckx in the Tour de France when Merckx was at his peak. Owen Mulholland tells his story

Beryl Burton was the greatest female time trialist and perhaps the greatest woman cyclist of all time.

Professional racing sometimes runs in families such as the Pélissiers and Petterssons. Owen Mulholland tells several of their stories.

Albert Eisentraut, the godfather and midwife of American framebuilding

Remembering Laurent Fignon, a biography of the two-time Tour and Giro winner by cycle historian James Witherell

Owen Mulholland's reporting:

Le Tour: Some history and a Few Stories from the 1985 and 1986 Tour de France

The 1985 Tour de France was supposed to be Greg LeMond's, but fate got in the way.

Vitré and the 1985 Tour de France. The Tour comes to a small town in Brittany

1985 Tour de France Féminin

The Tour de France's Real Workers

The 1986 Tour was famous for the strange relationshipship between Greg Lemond and his supposed helper Bernard Hinault. Here's Owen's telling of the tale.

7-Eleven and the 1986 Tour de France. Owen Mulholland's report of their surprising ride

1986 Coors Classic. LeMond and Hinault settled nothing that year at the Tour. Their rivalry continued that August into Colorado.

Stephan Roche, 7-Eleven and the 1987 Tour de France. Owen Mulholland was there and tells the whole story of the 87 Tour.

Jeannie Longo and the 1987 Tour de France Féminin by Owen Mulholland

Sean Kelly and the 1987 Tour de France