10 Greatest Cycling Comebacks Documented in Photos | PedalChef

Key Takeaways

  • Cycling comebacks offer thrilling and memorable moments.
  • Photos capture these victories, solidifying them in history.
  • Each comeback showcases the unwavering human spirit.

Ever watched a cyclist power to victory from behind?

It's pure adrenaline!

Imagine an underdog flying past the competition; it's the kind of moment that sticks with you.

Cycling history is riddled with jaw-dropping comebacks that impress even the most seasoned fans.

And the real treat?

These comebacks are often immortalized in photos, giving us a frozen slice of the victory against the odds.

From Greg LeMond's astounding 1989 Tour de France finale to the resilience of riders like Chris Froome and Chloe Dygert, these moments are as inspiring as they are breathtaking.

We've seen incredible athletes pushing through adversity and injury, leaving us in awe of their determination and grit.

The power of a photograph to capture such feats adds to the legacy of the sport.

Trust us; we know a thing or two about cycling comebacks.

We've dug deep into the archives to handpick comebacks that aren't just sports stories, but also tales of human spirit and perseverance.

Now, let's dive into these stunning snapshots of cycling history.



Greg LeMond - 1989 Tour de France

Hey there!

Can you believe that sometimes truth is stranger—and way more exciting—than fiction?

Take, for instance, the 1989 Tour de France.

Greg LeMond, an American cyclist, pulled off what many call the most astonishing comeback in the sport's history.

Picture this: just two years after surviving a near-fatal hunting accident, LeMond made his way back to claim victory in one of the most grueling competitions around.

Here's what happened:

  • LeMond's win came down to the wire, a mere 8 seconds ahead of his competitor.
  • The final stage, a 24.5-km individual time trial, saw him beating the odds (and the clock).
  • The whole race was neck and neck, giving fans one of the most thrilling finishes ever.

Imagine the determination it took for LeMond to go from recovery to racing and then winning the yellow jersey!

And you know, these aren't just any old photos we're talking about—these are snapshots of sheer tenacity and endurance.

Why does it matter?

The images of LeMond crossing the finish line in Paris, soaked in accomplishment, aren't just impressive; they're iconic.

They're testament to the human spirit fighting, pushing, and ultimately triumphing against all odds.

Remember, in 1989, no one expected LeMond to come back like he did.

Yet there he was, leading the pack and creating perhaps the most heart-stopping moment in the history of cycling.

Who needs a movie when life serves up drama this intense, right?

Lance Armstrong - 1999 Tour de France

Can you believe it?

Just three years after being diagnosed with advanced testicular cancer, Lance Armstrong made a comeback that left everyone in awe.

In 1999, he rode to victory in the Tour de France, proving that not even a life-threatening illness could keep a good rider down.

His resilience was remarkable, wasn't it?

And let's not forget, this win was just the start of what would become a series of victories.

Let's paint a picture of that year:

  • Date: The Tour took place from 3 to 25 July 1999.
  • Prologue: Armstrong set the pace with an 8-kilometer time-trial win in Le Puy du Fou.

Despite the controversies that would later emerge, the image of Armstrong in the yellow jersey remains unforgettable for many cycling fans.

It's like a snapshot in time, right?

The sight of him crossing the finish line was a symbol of hope and perseverance.

It's the kind of stuff that gets you pumped up to take on your own challenges!

Now, imagine this:

  • Jersey: Yellow 🟨
  • Achievement: A comeback that turned into an 86th edition victory

Remember, in 1999, Armstrong hadn't just returned to cycling; he'd reclaimed his place as one of the top cyclists in the world.

Talk about a plot twist!

Although the official record would later change, those moments when he surged ahead of the pack are etched in Tour de France lore.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and in this case, each photo of Armstrong's comeback tells a story of determination that's hard to put into words.

It just goes to show, no matter what life throws at you, sometimes all you need is a bike and a road to make a comeback.

Keep pedaling!

Chloe Dygert - 2021 World Championships

Imagine making a strong comeback after a serious setback – that’s exactly what Chloe Dygert did at the 2021 World Championships.

Can you believe it was just a year after her terrible crash?

Healing quickly, she was back in the saddle, showing everyone what determination looks like.

At the Championships, Dygert soared through the time trials with not just grit but also an impressive show of skill.

It was clear she had spent countless hours training and rehabilitating to get to this point.

Picture her, if you will, racing against the clock, showcasing her renowned time trial mastery once again.

  • Preparation is key: Remember, only nine hours before her stellar performance, Dygert had warmed up on an indoor trainer with an average power of 161w.
  • Strength and endurance: Even at a challenging 2.5w/kg, she proved her athletic prowess hadn't waned in the slightest.

Could you do that?

I know, right!

That’s why her efforts are not just commendable but truly photo-worthy for any roundup of cycling comebacks.

Each photo from that day likely tells a story of perseverance, and these are the moments that make sports so captivating, aren't they?

The images from the 2021 World Championships are a testament to Chloe Dygert's unwavering spirit.

They capture a narrative of recovery and success that fans and fellow cyclists won't soon forget.

Now, let's take a minute and give kudos to her for not just bouncing back, but for doing so with such strength and determination.

Go, Chloe!

Ready to see her in action?

You know her return was not just a feat of physical strength, but also a triumph of mental fortitude.

And that's what the greatest comebacks are made of!

Tom Skujins - 2018 Tour of California

Have you heard about cyclers who bounce back like superheroes?

Let's talk about Tom Skujins.

Remember his 2017 crash in the Tour of California?

He took a heavy fall on May 15, ending up with a concussion that had fans holding their breath.

But fast forward to 2018, and it was as if he pedaled out of a phoenix's ashes.

In 2018, Skujins didn't just return to the Tour of California; he owned it.

Celebrating in style, he won the third stage, leaving spectators in awe.

Can you picture sprinting to victory a year after a bone-jarring crash?

Skujins didn't need a cape to show his heroic comeback.

  • Date of crash: May 15, 2017
  • Comeback stage win: 2018, Stage 3
  • Team: Trek-Segafredo

With his hands victoriously thrown in the air, Skujins crossed the finish line at the Laguna Seca Raceway.

This wasn't just a win; it was a statement.

His injuries from the previous year included not only the concussion but also a broken collarbone and a seriously bad case of road rash.

Yet there he was, a year later, proving that determination and resilience are just as important as the bike you ride on.

His victory tweet hinted at a signature victory salute, but let's be real, who needs trademark moves when you've shown the world such an epic rebound?

Tom Skujins' comeback isn't just a cycling story; it's an inspiration for anyone facing setbacks.

You fall, you rise, and sometimes, if you're like Skujins, you end up on top of the podium.

Chris Froome - 2020 Vuelta a España

Remember when Chris Froome had that nasty spill at the Critérium du Dauphiné in 2019?

It was the kind of crash that has ended careers, but not for Froome.

Fast forward to the 2020 Vuelta a España, and you've got yourself a hefty dose of inspiration on two wheels.

The photos of Froome's pedal strokes in Spain aren't just snapshots; they're milestones marking his incredible return to elite cycling.

  • 2020 Vuelta a España: A grueling comeback
  • Photos: More than memories, symbols of resilience

Despite the odds, Froome lined up at the start of the Vuelta a España in 2020.

Sure, he didn't come close to snagging the red jersey—finishing at a distance from the winner—but that's not the point, is it?

The mere fact that Froome was back, churning through the kilometers after a crash that could have been career-ending, is something to cheer about.

  • Injury: Overcome against all odds
  • 2020 Performance: Not about victories, but about the comeback

Let's not sugarcoat it; Froome struggled.

The mountains that once bowed to his will were unrelenting, but the grit he showed was authentic.

Do you get goosebumps thinking about that?

Because seeing Froome cross the finish line at any stage of that race was a testament to his determination and a victory in its own right.

  • Determination: Unwavering through each stage
  • Inspiration: Embodied in his presence in the peloton

So, next time you're scrolling through photos of the Vuelta, pay attention to the ones of Froome.

They're not just evidence of him being there; they're proof that sometimes the greatest triumphs aren't about winning, but simply about being able to ride another day.

What a comeback, huh?

Philippe Gilbert - 2019 Paris-Roubaix

Hey there, did you catch the moment Philippe Gilbert made a triumphant return to glory?

It was in 2019, at the grueling Paris-Roubaix.

Imagine overcoming a severe knee injury just the year before, and then coming back to snag a win at one of cycling's most punishing races—now, that's what I call a comeback!

  • Date: 2019
  • Race: Paris-Roubaix
  • Winner: Philippe Gilbert
  • Team: Deceuninck - Quick-Step

Remember that spring day when Gilbert, riding for Deceuninck - Quick-Step, showed us what determination looks like?

The photos are nothing short of epic, capturing every ounce of effort as he pushed through the infamous cobblestones.

In a nail-biting sprint finish inside the velodrome, Gilbert didn't just win the race; he carved his name into cycling history by completing his set of victories across all five Monuments.

Can you believe it?

That's right, all five!

Let me lay it out for you:

  • Milano-Sanremo
  • Tour of Flanders
  • Paris-Roubaix
  • Liège-Bastogne-Liège
  • Giro di Lombardia

Check out these key moves:

  • Sprint Finish: Beat Nils Politt, leaving everyone on the edge of their seats.
  • The Bike: The specialized Roubaix endurance bike—lighter, more aerodynamic, and equipped with that fancy Future Shock 2.0 system.

Gilbert's victory was no fluke.

It was a testament to his skill, strategy, and indefatigable spirit.

And let me tell you, every photo of him crossing that finish line screams legend.

You've got to give it up for the guy.

After all, it's not every day you see a champion bounce back like Philippe did!

Wout van Aert - 2020 Strade Bianche

Isn't it amazing how a single moment captured in a photograph can speak volumes?

Picture Wout van Aert, his face a mask of grit and determination, literally, as he coated in dust after tackling the infamous white roads of Tuscany.

That's the spirit of cycling, wouldn't you agree?

In 2020, Wout van Aert accomplished something special at the Strade Bianche.

Remember when he had that horrendous fall at the Tour de France in 2019?

Well, talk about bouncing back!

  • Race Date: August 1, 2020
  • Winning Time: 4 hours, 58 minutes, and 56 seconds (approx.)
  • Key Move: Solo break on the El Tolfe climb

Current at the 14th edition of the race, this Belgian powerhouse from Team Jumbo-Visma made his country proud.

His victory wasn't only about strength, but also savvy race tactics.

Glimpses of his incredible ride:

  • Attacked on the El Tolfe climb
  • Held a 27-second lead into Siena
  • His first Strade Bianche win

But, here's the kicker – the images of Van Aert crossing the finish line in Piazza del Campo have become iconic.


Because they encapsulate the grit and perseverance that cycling embodies.

Plus, let's not forget, Annemiek van Vleuten also secured her win that day, making it a memorable moment for the cycling community.

What an incredible comeback, right?

From recovery to triumph, Wout van Aert showed us all what resilience looks like, one dusty pedal stroke at a time.

Gino Bartali - Post-WWII

Did you know that some legends return stronger than ever?

Imagine pedaling your way to a captivating victory, not just against competitors, but against the backdrop of history.

That's precisely the story of Gino Bartali, the Italian cycling icon, whose post-WWII comeback is nothing short of remarkable.

After a pause in his career due to the upheaval of World War II, Bartali made a comeback that captured hearts worldwide.

In 1948—yes, a whole decade after his 1938 win—he reclaimed the yellow jersey in the Tour de France.

His endurance and determination had him crossing the finish line a staggering 26 minutes and 16 seconds ahead of the runner-up.

But it's not just the numbers that tell the story; it's the images too.

Picture this: there he is, Gino Bartali, grit and grace on two wheels, wearing the emblematic yellow jersey.

These photos are more than just images; they are snapshots of perseverance, a visual testimony to Bartali's indomitable spirit.

  • 1948 Tour de France - Victory after a 10-year hiatus.
  • 26 minutes, 16 seconds - Lead time over second place.

It was a triumph over more than just the other cyclists; it was a victory of human spirit over the adversity of the times.

Can you imagine the crowds cheering as Bartali breezed through the finish line, a decade after his first tour victory?

It's the kind of story that affirms, no matter what life throws at you, you can always make a comeback.

Gino Bartali—what a legend!

Ivan Basso - 2010 Giro d'Italia

Remember when Ivan Basso clinched the 2010 Giro d'Italia, sporting the iconic pink jersey amid cheers and flashes?

It wasn't just a win—it was a monumental comeback.

Have you seen those shots of Basso on the winner's podium, joy unmistakable on his face?

That's the stuff of cycling legend, right there.

Here's what you need to know about that incredible win:

  • Team: Liquigas-Doimo
  • Final General Classification Time: 87 hours, 44 minutes, 1 second
  • Margin of Victory: 1 minute, 51 seconds over David Arroyo

After a challenging period away from professional cycling, Basso worked hard to make an emphatic return.

And return he did!

He raced with such determination that by Stage 15, atop Monte Zoncolan, he seized the stage win and established himself as the frontrunner for the overall title.

It's not just about the win, though.

Basso's victory symbolized a clean slate, a renewed focus on clean cycling.

Seeing him there, victorious, gives us all a bit of hope that comebacks are possible, doesn't it?

Imagine pedaling through Italy's grueling terrain for more than 87 hours and coming out on top.

Now, picture doing that after a pause in your career—seems pretty impressive, right?

That's what Basso accomplished, and let's be real, those photo-finish moments are iconic for a reason!

What's your favorite snapshot from that 2010 Giro d'Italia?

Keep the conversation going—you're part of this cycling story, too!

Mark Cavendish - 2021 Tour de France

Hey there, did you catch Mark Cavendish's thrilling resurgence at the 2021 Tour de France?

After a battle with his health and finding form, this iconic sprinter made a comeback that had us on the edge of our seats.

Let's dive into the moments that marked his return as a legend.

First off, Cavendish clinched four stages that year.

Yes, four!

It's like he never left the top of his game.

Winning a stage in the Tour is tough, but four?

That’s just showing off, right?

This feat drove him straight into the history books, tying with the great Eddy Merckx for the most stage wins ever in the Tour de France—now that's a whopping 34 victories!

Here are the wins that got everyone talking:

  • Stage 4: From Redon to Fougères, he showed us a flash of the Cav of old.
  • Stage 6: In Châteauroux, where he used to notch his first Tour stage win back in 2008!
  • Stage 10: A sprint in Valence that had everyone gasping.
  • Stage 13: Nailed a win in Carcassonne, just to put a cherry on top.

Photos of Cavendish crossing finish lines, arms raised high, and celebrating with his team become instant classics.

They captured not just the triumph, but the raw emotion and determination behind one of sport's greatest comebacks.

It's not just about athletic prowess; it’s about the heart, the passion, and bouncing back stronger.

Are you feeling inspired yet?

Because let's face it, we all love a good comeback story, and Cavendish gave us one worthy of legend in 2021.

Keep those images bookmarked for when you need a dose of determination because if Cav can do it, what's stopping you?