Which cyclists have won the 5 Monuments and what does Van der Poel want to do?

Road 09/03/24 13:08 Migue A.

Achieving victory in the five Monuments of cycling, namely, Milan-San Remo, Tour of Flanders, Paris-Roubaix, Liege-Bastogne-Liege, and Il Lombardia is one of the great challenges of cycling. In fact, only 3 cyclists throughout history can boast of such a feat, while, in comparison, there are 7 cyclists who have managed to win the three Grand Tours. Now, Mathieu van der Poel could join this exclusive list.

Which cyclists have won the 5 Monuments of Cycling

In the world of cycling, there are several exclusive lists, clubs of select winners, those who have achieved certain challenges that very few others have managed to conquer. We have, for example, those who have won the Tour de France 5 times, including those who are considered by many to be the greatest cyclists in history. We also have those who have managed to win at least once in the Giro, Tour, and Vuelta, known as the triple crown.

However, the most exclusive of all is the one that groups together the winners of the five monuments, the most iconic classics of cycling, a list composed of only 3 names that has not increased since the 1970s, demonstrating the magnitude of achieving such a feat. In fact, in recent years, only Philippe Gilbert has been in a position to have achieved the full set of monuments, although he fell short in the Milan-San Remo, which is said to be the most difficult classic to win.

This list is composed curiously of three Belgian cyclists: Rick Van Looy, Roger de Vlameminck and, unsurprisingly, one who is present in all cycling statistics we consider, the omnipresent Eddy Merckx.

The latter hardly needs an introduction, as he was known as the Cannibal. A cyclist who practically raced in every event and in every race not only aimed to win, but to dominate his rivals. It didn't matter if it was a stage race, a one-week race, a classic, or a kermesse in any village in Belgium.

Eddy Merckx also holds the record for the most monuments in his extensive list of achievements, with no less than 19 victories spread among his 7 Milan-San Remo, 2 Tour of Flanders, 3 Paris-Roubaix, 5 Liege-Bastogne-Liege, and 2 victories in Lombardia.

Following him in the list of victories is Roger de Vlaeminck, with 11 monument wins, 3 times in San Remo, a single Flanders, and another Liege. A couple of victories in Lombardia and no less than 4 wins in the Hell of the North, a race that the Gypsy made his own and still holds the record for victories in Roubaix shared with Tom Boonen.

Rik Van Looy completes this trio with a total of 8 monument victories: 1 Milan-San Remo, 2 Flanders, 3 Paris-Roubaix, 1 Liege, and 1 Lombardia. In his case, it is even more remarkable as he was not a versatile cyclist like Merckx or a pure classics rider like de Vlaeminck. Van Looy was a pure sprinter who accumulated over 400 victories in his career.

Van der Poel could change the history of cycling

Currently, Mathieu van der Poel seems to be the best positioned to achieve the 5 monuments, of which he already has Milan-San Remo, Tour of Flanders, and Paris-Roubaix, and has also included Liege-Bastogne-Liege in his schedule for the 2024 season. This, combined with the fact that he will not start his season until next week, precisely with the Milan-San Remo race, and that it will only be his second participation in the Doyenne, indicates that achieving the 5 monuments has become a top priority for Mathieu van de Poel.

In fact, there are already those who go further and begin to comment that the limited selection of races in which Van de Poel will participate, mainly the monuments, aims to raise the level of the challenge and try to achieve all five in the same year, something that no one has even come close to, and in fact, Eddy Merckx is the only one who has managed to win 3 monuments in a single season, a feat he repeated three times.

Obviously, if Van der Poel were to achieve this, he would enter, if he is not already, directly into the cycling Olympus, a challenge that adds to others that the Dutchman has yet to complete, such as the cyclocross world championships record that he will equal if he wins one more.

Among the current cyclists, there is another who is also in a position to tackle the challenge of the five monuments. It could only be Tadej Pogacar, the only one of the recent Grand Tour winners who has dared to boldly compete in the classics. Tadej Pogacar already has the Tour of Flanders that he conquered last year, a Liege-Bastogne-Liege, and no less than 3 Il Lombardia victories, a race he has made his own in recent editions.

Furthermore, he has been fully involved in the last two editions of Milan-San Remo, finishing 5th and 4th respectively, and in just a week, he will try to add another victory to his record. As for the cobbles of Roubaix, the Slovenian has not yet participated in this race, but he has already shown in the Tour de France stages on those same cobblestones that he excels on that peculiar terrain.



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