Born on December 3, 1946, Holland’s Joop Zoetemelk was a rider with ability who won Grand Tours, one-day classics and the World Championship Road Race.
Zoetemelk’s claim to fame was that he placed second in the Tour de France a record six times.
He did however, win the race in 1980 in front of Hennie Kuiper of Holland and Raymond Martin of France when Bernard Hinault was forced to abandon because of knee problems.
Zoetemelk was unfortunate in that he had to compete against two most dominant riders the sport has produced: Eddy Merckx and Bernard Hinault.
Zoetemelk was a rider who preferred to ride in the slip stream of these champions.
He was second to Merckx in the Tour de France in 1970 and 1971.
Zoetemelk was also second to Lucien Van Impe in the 1976 Tour de France.
In addition, Zoetemelk was second to Bernard Hinault in 1978, 1979, and 1982.
Despite competing against the likes of Merckx and Hinault, Zoetemelk did score victories in the most prestigious races in cycling.
In addition to his record in the Tour de France, Zoetemelk won the Vuelta a Espana in 1979 in front of Francisco Galdos of Spain and Michel Pollentier of Belgium. Zoetemelk also won the Mountains jersey in the 1971 Vuelta a Espana.