The following is a list of the bicycle riders with the most wins in Tour de France history. This list comes with many asterisks, since a number of Tour de France winners were subsequently disqualified from the wins.
The most notable rider to be disqualified from winning the Tour de France is Lance Armstrong. Armstrong won the Tour de France for seven consecutive years from 1999 to 2005, but was subsequently stripped of all seven wins due to performance enhancing drug (PED) use.
Had Lance Armstrong not been disqualified, his seven wins would be the most of any rider in Tour de France history. Other notable disqualifications include Floyd Landis in 2006, and Alberto Contador in 2010, who were both also disqualified for PED use.
The Tour de France was first run in 1903, and Frenchmen Maurice Garin was the winner. Garin was first in 1904 too, but was disqualified after it was alleged he cheated and was transported for part of the race by train.
The Tour de France was a wild affair in its early days. When the race would move into a favorite riders home territory, fans of that rider would beat up other riders and cut down trees across roads to slow down rivals. Many riders cheated by hanging onto cars and motorcycles, and some would sabotage rivals by throwing tacks on the route to puncture tires.
The Tour de France has been run annually since 1903, with two gaps. The race was not run from 1915 to 1918 due to WW I, and was not run from 1940 to 1946 due to WW II.
Riders with the Most Wins in Tour de France history
T-1. Miguel Indurain (Spain) – 5 wins
Miguel Indurain from Spain holds the record (tied with three others) for most wins in Tour de France history with five. Miguel Indurain won the Tour de France for five consecutive years from 1991 to 1995.
I was big fan of bicycle racing back in the early 1990s, and I remember watching Miguel Indurain win all five times. Big Mig, as he was called, was a great rider, but recently reports have come out that Miguel Indurain and his Banesto team paid large sums of money in the early 1990s to a suspected PED doctor.
T-1. Bernard Hinault (France) – 5
Frenchmen Bernard Hinault won the Tour de France in 1978, 1979, 1981, 1982, and 1985. Hinault’s five wins delighted all of France, and ties him for the most ever wins in the Tour de France. Bernard Hinault won 28 stages in the Tour de France, which is the second most all-time. Active rider Mark Cavendish has 25, and can pass Hinault soon.
T-1. Eddy Merckx (Belgium) – 5
Eddy Merckx from Belgium won the Tour de France four consecutive times from 1969 to 1972, and then won again in 1974 for five total wins. Many consider Eddy Merckx to be the greatest bicycle racer of all time. Eddy Merckx holds the Tour de France record for most stage wins with 34.
T-1. Jacques Anquetil (France) – 5
Frenchmen Jacques Anquetil set the record for most wins in Tour De France history when he won the race five times, with his first win in 1957, and his other four wins coming consecutively from 1961 to 1964.
T-5. Greg LeMond (USA) – 3
In 1986, Greg LeMond shocked the cycling world when he became the first American, and the first non-European, to win the Tour de France. LeMond also won the Tour de France in 1989 and 1990, and his three wins are tied for the fifth most wins in race history.
Due to Lance Armstrong and Floyd Landis having had their Tour de France wins vacated, Greg LeMond remains the only American to have officially won the Tour de France.
T-5. Louison Bobet (France) – 3
Frenchmen Louison Bobet won the Tour de France consecutively from 1953 to 1955.
T-5. Philippe Thys (Belgium) – 3
Philippe Thys from Belgium won the Tour de France in 1913, 1914, and 1920. When he won the race in 1920, Philippe Thys set the then record for most wins in the Tour de France. A record Thys held for 43 years, until Jacques Anquetil broke it with his fourth win in 1963.
World War I probably cost Philippe Thys even more wins in the Tour de France. He was obviously in his prime when the race was not run from 1915 to 1918.