Lucien Van Impe


Lucien Van Impe

Infobox Cyclist
ridername = Lucien van Impe


fullname = Lucien van Impe
nickname = de kleine van Mere
dateofbirth = birth date and age|1946|10|20
country = BEL
currentteam = Retired
discipline = Road and track
role = Rider
ridertype = Climber
amateuryears =
amateurteams =
proyears = 1969–1974 1975–1976 1977 1978 1979 1980 1981 1982-1984 1985 1986 1987
proteams = Sonolor Gitane Molteni Lejeune C&A KAS Marc Boston Mavic Metauro Mobil Santini Dormilon Sigma
majorwins = Tour de France, 1 overall, 6 mountain classifications
updated = April 3, 2008

Lucien van Impe (born 20 October 1946 in Mere, Belgium) was a Belgian cyclist from 1969 to 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.

Biography

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 forst polka dot jersey as "King of the Mountains" in the Tour de France. He would repeat that five more times [cite web|url=http://www.letour.fr/HISTO/TDF/riders/us/4016.html|title=Past results for Lucien VAN IMPE (BEL)|publisher=letour.fr] , 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. In that year van Impe duelled several times with Zoetemelk in the mountains of the 1976 Tour de France. 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 [ [http://www.torelli.com/owen/tour2001/tdfalpine.html] Dead link|date=August 2008] . Van Impe has denied this. 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 Alpe d'Huez, but forgot to eat, causing him to lose his lead. In that tour, he was caught by one of the accompanying cars and fell, another cause for his defeat by Bernard Thévenet.

After three lesser years, van Impe made a comeback in 1981 with second place and first in the mountain classification. He 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 (second most Tour finishes after Joop Zoetemelk, and tied with Viatcheslav Ekimov who did the same in 2006) [cite web|url=http://www.cyclinghalloffame.com/races/results/results_tour_de_france.txt|title=Historical results - Tour de France|publisher=Cycling hall of fame] .

In retirement he became a team manager. In June 2008 he said he would leave the sport.

Most important successes

;1971: Mountain classification Tour de France;1972: Stage in Tour de France: Mountain classification Tour de France;1973: Stage in Tour de France;1975: 2 stages in Tour de France: Mountain classification Tour de France;1976: Tour de France: Stage in Tour de France;1977: Stage in Tour de France: Mountain classification Tour de France;1979: Stage in Tour de France: Stage in Vuelta a España;1981: Stage in Tour de France: Mountain classification Tour de France;1982: Mountain classification Giro d'Italia;1983: Stage in Giro d'Italia: Mountain classification Giro d'Italia: flagicon|BELBelgian championship on the road: Stage in Tour de France: Mountain classification Tour de France

Teams

* Sonolor-Lejeune (1969-1972)
* Sonolor (1973-1974)
* Gitane (1975-1976)
* Lejeune (1977)
* C&A (1978)
* Kas (1979)
* Marc (1980)
* Boston-Mavic (1981)
* Metauromobili (1982-1984)
* Santini (1985)
* Dormilón (1986)
* Sigma (1987)

Notes

External links

*official|http://www.lucienvanimpe.be
* [http://www.cyclinghalloffame.com/riders/rider_bio.asp?rider_id=33 Cycling hall of fame biography]


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