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The Top 10
Female Riders

By We Love Cycling

Throughout Tour de France history, the question has been whether or not women should have the privilege to take part in this magnificent sporting event.

Still to this day women can’t participate and our best chance to recapitulate what the real female riders are really made of is by comparing their achievements in one of the world’s most difficult female cycling races, La Grande Boucle (The Great Loop) Féminine, their equivalent to the Tour de France.

(From left to right: Susanne Ljungskog of Sweden, Joane Somarriba of Spain, Fabiana Luperini of Italy and Nicole Brandli of Switzerland during La Grande Boucle Féminine 2003. Photo: Profimedia.cz)

1. Fabiana Luperini

She’s 40 years of age and is a well-known name in the cycling world. This Italian pro cyclist has two silver medals (1998, 2001) and three consecutive gold medals during 1995-97.

2. Jeannie Longo

This now 55 year old from France was a one-time bronze medalist in 1996, a three-time silver medalist (1985, 1986, 1992) and even the holder of three gold medals in a row (1987-89).

3. Joane Somarriba

This Spanish cyclist started her famous La Grande Boucle Féminine carrier in 2000 with her first gold medal, after which she repeated with great performances in the following three years, when in 2001 she won the silver and then gold twice in 2002 and 2003.

4. Maria Canins

Another pro cyclist with Italian roots, she had a set of skills that were so unpredictable that she was able to beat all of her competition by becoming a two-time gold champion in 1985 and 86 followed by winning silver for the next three years after that.

5. Nicole Cooke

English fans fell in love with their best female cyclist when she grabbed gold victories in 2006 and 07. Clearly one of the most successful female bikers of all time, she presented herself to the world again in 2008 by taking the bronze.

(Fabiana Luperini. Photo: Profimedia.cz)

6. Leontinen van Moorsel

Born in the Netherlands, her name wasn’t particularly famous, but everything suddenly changed after her gold win in 1992. History rarely remembers those who only had a single success in their lifetime, but not this cyclist who repeated her gold victory in 93.

7. Emma Pooley

Less known, but still another great English cyclist, she had won the bronze two years prior to winning the gold medal in 2009.

8. Rasa Polikeviciute

This Lithuanian cyclist was able to achieve two silver medals. The first was in 1994 and although she had never finished first, two years later the she won the silver medal once again.

The last two spots (9. and 10.) belong to Belgian Heidi Van De Vijver and American Inga Thompson, or rather this should be a Top 11 List since even German Judith Arndt won the same amount of bronze medals as the above two female cyclists.

So, as we can see, women have been quite significant in several historical moments in La Grande Boucle Féminine racing. All of these women hold several other titles from different competitions, but truthfully they made their names in the cycling world because of the Great Loop. The question still remains the same however…

Times have changed and another cyclist, Marianne Vos, has been fighting for the rights of female cyclists around the world and she’s not the only one. A wave of voices will be present and supporting women’s racing at this year’s Tour de France.