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Lucien Van Impe

Lucien Van Impe
Van Impe at the 1975 Acht van Chaam
Personal information
Full nameLucien Van Impe
Nicknamede kleine van Mere
Born (1946-10-20) 20 October 1946 (age 77)
Mere, Belgium
Team information
Current teamRetired
Rider typeClimbing specialist
Professional teams
1982-1984Metauro Mobil
Major wins
Grand Tours
Tour de France
General classification (1976)
Mountains classification (1971, 1972, 1975, 1977, 1981, 1983)
9 individual stages (1972, 1973, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1979, 1981, 1983)
Giro d'Italia
Mountains classification (1982, 1983)
1 individual stage (1983)
Vuelta a España
1 individual stage (1979)

One-day races and Classics

National Road Race Championships (1983)

Lucien Van Impe (pronounced [lʏsˈjɛɱ vɑn ˈɪmpə]; born 20 October 1946) is a Belgian cyclist, who competed professionally between 1969 and 1987. He excelled mainly as a climber in multiple-day races such as the Tour de France. He was the winner of the 1976 Tour de France, and six times winner of the mountains classification in the Tour de France.[1]


Van Impe credits the start of his career to Spaniard Federico Bahamontes, a climber nicknamed the eagle of Toledo and a former Tour de France winner. In 1968 van Impe was King of the Mountains in the Tour de l'Avenir. Bahamontes used his influence to get van Impe a contract as a professional. In 1969, Van Impe started his professional career with a 12th place in the 1969 Tour de France. In 1971, Van Impe won his first mountains classification in the Tour de France. He would repeat that five more times,[2] a record then shared with Bahamontes. When Richard Virenque broke the record with a seventh victory in 2004, Van Impe criticized Virenque for being opportunistic rather than the best climber; he said he had himself refrained from breaking Bahamontes' record himself out of reverence.

Van Impe's Sonolor team fused with Gitane to become Gitane-Campagnolo in 1975. Former French champion Cyrille Guimard, who retired in early 1976, became directeur sportif in 1976. He was considered to be among the pre-race favorites as this edition had eight high mountain stages and it was expected to be a battle between Van Impe, Joop Zoetemelk and defending champion Bernard Thevenet. Thevenet was no match for these two riders from the Low Countries in the 1976 edition, and despite a strong start from debutant Freddy Maertens, the race became a duel between Van Impe and Zoetemelk with the mountains of the 1976 Tour de France deciding who would become champ. Guimard claims it was his order to attack Zoetemelk that won Van Impe the Tour, shouting at Van Impe that he'd run him off the road with the car if he didn't attack.[3] Van Impe has denied this. Despite Zoetemelk winning three high mountain stages Van Impe's attack gave him a lead of more than +3:00 on the Dutchman, and he then clinched his victory by finishing more than a minute ahead of Zoetemelk in the final individual time trial.

After 1976, Van Impe changed teams. In the 1977 Tour de France he started favorite but failed to take a lead in the mountains. He waited until the last mountain stage to attack, which finished atop Alpe d'Huez, and was in the lead late in the stage but forgot to eat, which caused his lead to slip away. He was still in the lead when he was hit by one of the TV cars. Due to his team car being so far behind he had to stand on the side of the road and wait several minutes for a new bike as Bernard Thévenet and Hennie Kuiper rode past; and the 1977 edition would be decided between the two of them as a result.

After three years where he wasn't among the GC favorites, Van Impe rode incredibly well in the 1981 Tour de France. He finished on the podium in 2nd place, although he was more than +10:00 behind Bernard Hinault, however he won the mountain classification yet again. All total Van Impe finished in the top 5 of the Tour de France eight times.[4]

He also won the mountain classification in the Giro d'Italia twice.

Single-day races were not his specialty and it was a surprise that he won the national championship in 1983.

Van Impe started 15 Tours de France and reached the finish in Paris every time. This was a record when he finished his last, but he would be passed for most Tour finishes by Joop Zoetemelk in 1986, and eventually Sylvain Chavanel reached 16 finishes in 2018. He is currently tied for 2nd with Viatcheslav Ekimov who finished his 15th edition in 2006.[5]

Van Impe in 2001

From 2007 to 2013, he was sporting director of a cycling team of professional riders, called Intermarché–Wanty.

Lucien Van Impe lives in Impe (his family name refers to that town) with his wife Rita, he has two grown up children, a son and a daughter. His house is called Alpe D'Huez, after the French mountain where he took the yellow jersey (the leader in the Tour de France) in 1976. When he came home that year, the bar where his supporters gathered every day to watch him win the Tour, was painted yellow entirely.

During and after his professional career, Van Impe has never tested positive, refused a doping test or confessed having used doping.[6]

He has been honoured by a tasteful abstract statue on his bike, on a stone plinth on a small roundabout in Belgium at 180 km before the finish of Belgium's blue-ribband event, the Tour of Flanders.[7]

Van Impe suffered a cardiac arrest in 2017, but completely recovered from it.[8]

Career achievements

Major results

Tour de l'Avenir
1st Mountains classification
1st Stage 8
1st Overall Vuelta a Navarra Amateurs
1st Stage 6 Tour of Belgium
3rd Circuit des Frontières
1st Mountains classification, GP du Midi Libre
2nd Manx Trophy
7th Overall Tour de Romandie
9th Overall Setmana Catalana de Ciclisme
10th Liège–Bastogne–Liège
1st Mountains classification, Tour de Romandie
3rd Overall Tour de France
1st Mountains classification
5th Overall GP du Midi Libre
7th Overall Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré
9th Overall Tour de Luxembourg
1st Mountains classification
9th Rund um den Henninger Turm Frankfurt
2nd Overall Tour de Romandie
3rd Overall Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré
4th Overall Tour de France
1st Mountains classification
1st Stage 12
5th Overall GP du Midi Libre
6th À travers Lausanne
1st Plogastel Saint-Germain
1st Stage 3 GP du Midi-Libre
2nd Overall Tour de Romandie
1st Stage 3
5th Overall Tour de France
1st Stage 12b
7th Trophée des Grimpeurs
1st Mountains classification, Tour de Romandie
1st Outer
1st Lalaing
9th Paris–Camembert
1st Overall Tour de l'Aude
1st Stage 1 & 3
1st GP Erpe-Mere
1st Ottignies
1st Lannion
1st Lescoet-Jugon
1st Kitzbuehl
2nd GP d'Isbergues
3rd Overall Tour de France
1st Mountains classification
1st Stages 14 & 18
5th Overall Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré
1st Mountains classification
5th Overall GP du Midi Libre
1st Mountains classification
5th Overall Escalada a Montjuïc
6th Paris–Bourges
6th Trophée des Grimpeurs
7th Druivenkoers Overijse
9th Road race, UCI World Championships
1st Overall Tour de France
1st Stage 14
1st Trophée des Grimpeurs
1st Stage 2b Tour de l'Aude
1st Polymultipliée
1st Creusot
1st Plancoët
1st Brette-les-Pins
2nd Overall GP du Midi-Libre
1st Stage 4b
5th Overall Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré
1st Mountains classification
5th Escalada a Montjuïc
9th La Flèche Wallonne
1st Trophée des Cimes
1st Aalst
1st Dunières
1st Pleaux
2nd Overall Tour de Suisse
1st Mountains classification
1st Stages 7 & 8
3rd Overall Tour de France
1st Mountains classification
1st Stage 15b
3rd Overall Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré
1st Stage 6
6th Trophée des Grimpeurs
8th Overall Tour de Romandie
1st Lamaul-Guimileau
1st Geraardsbergen
6th Liège–Bastogne–Liège
9th Overall Tour de France
1st Stage 16 Tour de France
1st Stage 7b Volta a Catalunya
1st Assenede
1st Mende
1st Pampelune
5th Overall Vuelta a España
1st Stage 15
6th Overall Tour of Belgium
7th Tour de Wallonie
8th Overall Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana
8th Amstel Gold Race
1st Tirlemont
4th Overall Tour de Suisse
1st Mountains classification
8th De Kustpijl
1st Polynormande
1st Moerbeke
1st Aalst
1st Saint-Martin de Landelles
2nd Overall Tour de France
1st Mountains classification
1st Stage 5
5th Omloop Mandel-Leie-Schelde
9th GP Stad Vilvoorde
1st San Crocce sull'Arno
1st Kalmthout
3rd Overall Tour of Sweden
4th Overall Giro d'Italia
1st Mountains classification
5th Gran Premio Industria e Commercio di Prato
6th Grand Prix Eddy Merckx
10th Druivenkoers Overijse
1st Road race, National Road Championships
1st Heusden Koers
1st GP Erpe-Mere
1st Ronse
4th Overall Tour de France
1st Mountains classification
1st Stage 19
8th Giro dell'Appennino
9th Overall Giro d'Italia
1st Mountains classification
1st Stage 11
10th GP Montelupo
1st Visp - Grächen
1st Buggenhout
6th Nationale Sluitingsprijs
7th Overall Giro d'Italia
5th Grote 1-MeiPrijs
10th Giro dell'Appennino
1st Overall Vuelta a los Valles Mineros
1st Stage 1
8th Overall Vuelta a Asturias
1st Mere

Grand Tour general classification results timeline

Grand Tour 1969 1970 1971 1972 1973 1974 1975 1976 1977 1978 1979 1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986
Vuelta a España 5 11
Giro d'Italia 4 9 7 13
Tour de France 12 6 3 4 5 18 3 1 3 9 11 16 2 4 27
Did not compete
DNF Did not finish

Honours and awards

Van Impe in 1971


  1. ^ "Lucien Van Impe". (in Dutch). 2023.
  2. ^ "Past results for Lucien VAN IMPE (BEL)". Archived from the original on 9 June 2008. Retrieved 3 April 2008.
  3. ^ [1] Archived 25 August 2005 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ "Palmarès de Lucien Van Impe (Bel". (in French). Retrieved 3 June 2023.
  5. ^ "Historical results - Tour de France". Cycling hall of fame.
  6. ^ Randewijk, Marije (7 July 2007). "Ik zal toch niet de enige zijn?" (in Dutch). de Volkskrant. Archived from the original on 23 September 2012.
  7. ^ "Wielerheld Lucien Van Impe: 'Niet elke kant van het heldendom is even fijn'". (in Dutch). 29 March 2023.
  8. ^ "Lucien Van Impe (70) getroffen door hartinfarct, toestand nog niet stabiel". (in Dutch). 24 June 2017.
  9. ^ "Dan toch toekomst voor legendarische GP Lucien Van Impe: (andere) wielervrienden kiezen nu voor dameskoers". Het Nieuwsblad (in Dutch). 5 April 2023.
  10. ^ "Lucien Van Impe best climber of all time". (in Dutch). 2007.
  11. ^ "9e Lucien Van Impe Classic". (in Dutch). 3 June 2023.
  12. ^ "FOTO. Standbeeld van Lucien Van Impe onthuld". Het Nieuwsblad (in Dutch). 30 July 2016.
  13. ^ "Jef Vermassen, Lucien Van Impe en Frans Melckenbeeck aangesteld als ereburgers". Het Laatste Nieuws (in Dutch). 9 September 2018.

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Lucien Van Impe
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