Like Father Like Son – Cyclists Keeping it in the Family


Most walks in life are well used to the idea of the family business and in cycling this comes across as well. We’ve not really seen the former cyclist become team owner and push his children through model – no Merckx and Sons Ltd. cycling team – but particular names certainly open doors.

Eddy Merckx & Axel Merckx

Eddy Merckx needs no introduction, the winner of nearly every race he entered at least once, he dominated professional cycling from the mid 60s to the late 70s winning every Grand Tour and a ridiculous amount of Monuments too.

Eddy Merckx

Eddy Merckx

His son Axel in fairness could never live up to this and settled into life as a super-domestique for top level teams. His best results were a bronze medal in the Athens Olympic Road Race, the Belgian National Championships and a 10th Overall in the Tour de France. Axel clearly had some talent but never came close to the heights of Eddy.

Massive win for Eddy – 5v0

Stephen Roche & Nicolas Roche

Stephen Roche rivals with Sean Kelly for Ireland’s most famous cyclist. Roche probably counts as the better if only because Grand Tour wins count more! Roche won both the Giro and the Tour and a World Championship in his annus mirabilis in 1987.

Stephen Roche

Stephen Roche

Nicolas Roche has the best comparative record out of the father/son combinations we’ve looked at so far. He’s knocking on the door of a Grand Tour win with a top 5 in last year’s Vuelta,  a number of other top 20 finishes and now moving away from the super-domestique role to genuine Tour team leader. You would think that the Vuelta offers his best chance at a win and I can certainly see him reaching the podium.

Things are further complicated here by cousin Dan Martin winning Liege – Bastogne – Liege in 2013.

Based on achievements, Stephen’s still far ahead of Nicolas, winning 4-1

Erik Zabel & Rick Zabel

Zabel’s 6 Green Jerseys in a row is a tremendous achievement for possibly the most consistent sprinter of all time. Throw in 3 Vuelta points jerseys, 4x Milan – San Remo, an Amstel Gold win and a few World Champs near misses and you have a near perfect palmares for a sprinter.

Erik Zabel

Erik Zabel

Rick Zabel’s youth career should mean that we will be talking about him more and more as he develops. He’s on his first professional contract with BMC in 2014 so it’s a little harsh to do a full comparison but winning the National U-23s and then the U-23s Tour of Flanders shows there is some talent there and we’ll look forward to seeing how he progresses.

Far too early to grade this one, but Rick will be doing well to match father Erik’s results.

Johny Schleck father of: Andy/Frank Schleck

Johny Schleck took part in 7 Tours, being part of the winning team twice (in ’68 and ’73 for Jan Janssen and Luis Ocana) and finishing in the top 20 twice as well. This paints Father Schleck as a super-domestique in the 60s with a stage win in the Vuelta and Luxembourgish National Champion to his name as well.

Father Johny Schleck

Johny Schleck

Son Andy has won the Tour de France after Alberto Contador’s retroactive disqualification as well as 3 White Jerseys in the Tour and another Youth Jersey in the Giro. So far though he comes across as the nearly man with 3 second places to his name and we’re still waiting to see how he really fares after his big injury in 2012.

The older Schleck brother Frank has always been considered just a touch less good compared to Andy, an equal match in the mountains his awful Time Trial ability means he always falters in the general classification at key moments. He’s had steady Grand Tour results with 4 Top 5 finishes but it will be a surprise if he ever wins one.

Father Johny was a very good domestique but the repeated visits to Grand Tour podiums put the sons ahead – 4v1 to the younger Schlecks

Davis Phinney father of: Taylor Phinney

Taylor’s dad Davis was the second American to win a road stage of the Tour de France back when surprisingly there weren’t many Americans racing in Europe and he also won a National jersey and an Olympic bronze too. He came second in the hunt for a Green Jersey in 1988 losing out to a dominant Eddy Planckaert.

Father Davis Phinney

Davis Phinney

Taylor Phinney has an exciting amount of potential, so far blitzing his way around Time Trials and making appearances during the classics (winning the U-23 Paris Roubaix). He took a stage win in the 2012 Giro, wearing the Pink Jersey, just missed out for medals finishing 4th in the TT and Road Race at London 2012 and recently won his first stage race in Dubai.

Taylor will almost certainly eclipse his father, it’s close already and Taylor sneaks it because it’s certain he’ll accomplish more. 3-2 to Taylor

Alain Gallopin father of: Tony Gallopin

This one nearly contradicts my opening paragraph..Alain Gallopin is a successful director sportif of teams such as Trek, Radioshack, Astana, Team CSC and Francaise de Jeux for the past 15 years but his own professional riding career wasn’t spectacular. He suffered a huge crash in the 1982 Circuit de la Sarthe which left him with poor balance skills and ended his career.

Father Alain Gallopin

Alain Gallopin

Son Tony has only really just begun his career but last year won the San Sebastian classic under his father’s tutelage at Radioshack. He’s had a series of top-ten results at various races and some Overall Best Young Rider jerseys. His Overall placings in Grand Tours continues to steadily climb and he should be able to break into the top 50 if he makes any of the Tour squads for new team Lotto Belisol.

A victory for the son but father Alain’s director results do a lot to even things up, 3-2 to Tony.

Hope you enjoyed the classic photos!


Mathew Mitchell

My name is Mathew Mitchell, 30 from Staffordshire, UK. Over the last few years I've got more and more into cycling, from the first innocent Sportive events to Audaxes, Go-Races, British Cycling racing and now Time Trials.

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3 Responses

  1. mason moore says:

    May I have your authorization to post this on twitter?

  2. Charles says:

    good articles