1. Lucien Van Impe

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  • Published Jan. 15, 2014
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He just wanted to be king. Lucien Van Impe may have won the Tour de France in 1976, but it came on the back of his efforts to claim the king of the mountains title he so loved. It was a title he would win six times at the Tour, tying him for the all-time mark with Federico Bahamontes. Could he have grabbed more? Van Impe said that out of respect for the man who he credited with launching his professional career, he stopped at six. The Belgian never showed more ambition than when he was riding for the jersey he felt best fit his slim shoulders. That’s not to say he repeatedly failed to have high placings. In fact, Van Impe did much the opposite, taking six top-five results in addition to that lone grand tour victory. His season, even his life, revolved around climbing with the gods come July. He would start his season slowly, forgoing the dangerous spring races to hone in on Alpine glory. Six times the king. Van Impe the Tour king came home in 1976 to his newly painted house — it was a translucent yellow, obscuring a layer of white with red spots. Photo: AFP

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