After the introductory article for this project about the Greatest Cyclists of All Time, I think it’s appropriate to start with the riders that barely missed the cut. To be frank, it’s hard to argue that these riders aren’t just as skilled that the ones that are going to be mentioned later. But 100 names are 100 names, not 107. Hence this post. Without further to do, below are the riders that I consider to be barely missing the cut.
Julian Alaphilippe – starting out with a familiar name, I think the Frenchman already has proven to be good enough to feature on an all-time list, maybe not top 100 yet, but probably as soon as the next season of spring classics is over, he will feature on the top 100. He is 29 years old but already a two-time world champion (2020, 2021), winner of the Fleche Brabançonne (2020), Milan San-Remo (2019), Strade Bianche (2019), Clasica San Sebastian (2018), Tour of Britain (2018), Tour of California (2016), three-time winner of the Fleche Wallone (2018, 2019, 2021), and winner of a stage in the Vuelta and six stages in the Tour de France, alongside a king of the mountain’s jersey (2018) and an unexpected 5th overall place in 2019.
He has six podium places in monuments but only one win (2019 Milan San-Remo). I his career continues on the same trajectory I have no doubt he will be remember as one of the greatest cyclists of all time.
Raffaele Di Paco – an Italian sprinter who won 11 stages at the Tour (1931-1935), and 15 stages of the Giro d’Italia (1930-1938). Based on the stories he was the original Mario Cipollini who is credited with saying “Chi vuole arrivare secondo si metta alla mia ruota” which translated “whoever wants to finish second, get behind my wheel”. With 26 stage wins in Grand Tours, we can’t really say he was wrong.
Denis Menchov – one of the best stage race riders of the 2000s, the Russian amassed two Grand Tour wins (2007 Vuelta and 2009 Giro), a Tour de France podium place (3rd) in 2008, and nine Grand Tour stage wins (one at the Tour, three at the Giro, and five at the Vuelta). To add to this Menchov won the Vuelta a País Vasco in 2004 and amassed several other top 10 placements in Grand Tours, with the 2nd place in the 2005 Vuelta highlighted.
Giuseppe Olmo – another Italian sprinter of the 30s (Cipollini vs Petacchi, anyone?), Olmo won 20 Giro d’Italia stages, but unlike Di Paco didn’t manage any Tour wins. However, also unlike Di Paco but in this situation fortunately for Olmo, he managed two Milan San-Remo wins (1935 and 1938), a feat his compatriot never achieved. He was on the podium of the Giro twice (2nd in 1936 and 3rd in 1935). Also in 1935 he set a new hour record, becoming the first rider to break 45km (45,090km). In 1932 he won a gold medal in the Los Angeles Olympics, in the men’s team time trial event (which was less akin to a time trial and more to a Grand Tour stage where the time of the three best finishers is taken). Finally, after he retired, Olmo founded a bike manufacturer.
Richard Virenque – one of the greatest cyclists France has had during the past 30 years, Virenque holds the record for the most king of the mountains jerseys won at the Tour win seven (1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1999, 2003, and 2004), along with seven stage wins as well. Since Virenque obviously likes to do everything in “sevens”, he also has seven top-tens in Grand Tours throughout his career (six at the Tour and one at the Vuelta), including two podium placements at the Tour in 1996 and 1997 (3rd and 2nd, respectively). He was not a prolific one day racer but his win in the Paris Tours 2001 was incredible.