Maxims & Aphorisms: Cycling Quotations

The language of cycling has always been richly evocative. It is packed with peculiar sayings and obscure nomenclature, memorable catchphrases and revered wisdom. From the uncomplicated advice of Eddy Merckx to the exuberant commentaries of Liggett and Sherwen, descriptions of cycling are as fundamental to the sport as the act of riding itself. And yet anyone wishing to explore this linguistic tapestry is forced to trawl through countless Wikipedia entries or pore over dusty magazines, unable to find a reliable compendium of cycling-related quotations. Until now.

Rouleur has collated this unique selection of remarks, quips, and pronouncements to inspire and amuse every cycling fan. Although by no means exhaustive, our aim is to nevertheless provide a useful repository for the wonderfully expressive things people have said, and continue to say, about riding bicycles.

Categories

Recent

I felt good, then I crashed. That was it. Race over. It’s really disappointing. I’m a bit angry at the minute. Geraint Thomas, Giro d’Italia 2017

I just had problems: I needed to take a dump and I couldn’t hold it anymore. It was after the first time of the Stelvio I began to feel it in the downhill. I had to stop; it was not possible to continue anymore. Tom Dumoulin, Giro d’Italia 2017

I abused the crap out of triamcinolone. It helped you ‘lean out’ for the Grand Tours and it was very effective. Look at the pictures – I weighed 30 pounds less than I do now. Not healthy. Tyler Hamilton, May 2017

Chris Froome obviously didn’t want to see me win. You don’t forget that for July.Ritchie Porte, Critérium du Dauphiné 2017

Paris isn’t far from Düsseldorf is it? Maybe we just go straight there now and… finish! Geraint Thomas, Stage 1, Tour de France, 2017

[On Peter Sagan] In the meantime let’s hear from the stage winner wearing a baseball cap that looks like it’s got the hair attached.Gary Imlach, Stage 3, Tour de France, 2017

They’ve all just basically punched each other’s faces in. [Laughing] They’re all laying on the floor trying to clamber back up. It’s been a smash-fest. David Millar, Stage 8, Tour de France, 2017

Majka just came down right in front of me, and I had nowhere to go. I knew something was wrong. Normally, you can just get up and get going again. You just have to accept it. Geraint Thomas, Stage 9, Tour de France, 2017

I don’t know what it is for this year; it’s just not happening. Geraint Thomas, Stage 9, Tour de France, 2017

Chris Froome just body-checked Aru! Just put him into the fans as he tried to move by! I think he’s trying to say it was a mistake. Yeah, that was an apology. Or incredible passive aggression. It’s all going on. David Millar, Stage 9, Tour de France, 2017

You don’t mess with Chris Froome. Ned Boulting, Stage 9, Tour de France, 2017

Urán’s got a two-speed. He’s got the most expensive two-speed bike in the world! David Millar, Stage 9, Tour de France, 2017

Every downhill, every road, every flat piece of road, every finish line we’re doing 60k an hour; it’s a dangerous sport. We accept that. It’s just the way it is. Dan Martin, Tour de France, 2017

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Childhood

My brother persuaded me to try cycling and I realised it was the best thing in the world. People thought we were strange but I couldn’t have cared less. Peter Sagan

My earliest memories of my dad are watching him race, so it was inevitable when we were old enough that my brother and I would get on bikes. Victoria Pendleton

The first time I rode a bike I was four or five. I crashed into the back of a car. David Millar

I remember taking my stabilisers off my bike with my dad in the back garden. It was a small little bike, and it was called Poppy, had balloons on it, and was purple. Lizzie Deignan, née Armitstead

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Commentary

He is riding like a man possessed. Paul Sherwen

I take my hat off to him. Phil Liggett

He really is a man on a mission today. Phil Liggett

[on Hugh Porter] He sits up in his commentary position like some Black Country Caesar, passed cups of tea and notes on riders by his ever present, ever attentive wife Anita Lonsbrough while he dispenses instant justice, untouchable in his majesty. Ned Boulting

He’s turning himself inside out. Paul Sherwen

It really is like swatting mosquitos. Phil Liggett

Well, it’s a beautiful day here in France as the peloton is keeping this breakaway under control. Currently, the four riders in the escape have a 10-minute lead, and I think they have a very good chance of staying away. Unless the pack catches them. Phil Liggett

[On various taller riders] He’s a great big bear of a man. Paul Sherwen

And out of nowhere comes who else but Robbie McEwen! He just suddenly appears as if he’s taken off Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak!! McEwen makes his move and wins the stage! Phil Liggett

This is one Schleck sandwich that will give them indigestion. Phil Liggett

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Crashing

Next time you are in a car travelling at 40mph think about jumping out – naked. That’s what it’s like when we crash. David Millar

With each crash we slowly lose the fearlessness of a child. Caution, which blossoms with maturity, has lengthened my career but may have cost me victories. Michael Barry

I lost quite a bit of skin on the left side of my body and sustained some deep cuts in my hand and around my knee, but the doctors were able to stitch it all back together. Luckily I didn’t hurt my shoulder but I’m now at the point where the only thing on my body which isn’t hurting is my bad shoulder. Jens Voigt

I was so amazed by the number of people falling in the biggest races and how naked they are. When they fell in the road bones were broken, and the race for them was finished. They would spend the year suffering, dieting and then all was lost. I was amazed by how fragile it was. Joël Santoni

Crashing is part of cycling as crying is part of love. Johan Museeuw

If you worried about falling off the bike, you’d never get on. Lance Armstrong

I know I’m pushing the boundaries. I know that one of these days I’m going to hit the dust and I’m going to be fucking history, but sod it. Sean Yates

In reality, a broken collarbone is almost the opposite: the true misery of it is that it exiles you from the community of cycling. Invalided, you become a forgotten soul in a netherworld of shadows, stuck in limbo while all life goes on without you in the bright sunlight. That’s the real fracture. Matt Seaton

I’ve had a lot of bike crashes. Once a car ran me over in a parking lot. I also had a head-on collision with a car and smashed through its front window. Peter Sagan

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Doping

You can’t ride the Tour de France on mineral water. Jacques Anquetil

I have never had a single positive doping test, and I do not take performance-enhancing drugs. Lance Armstrong

The last thing I’ll say for the people that don’t believe in cycling, the cynics and the sceptics, I’m sorry for you. I’m sorry you can’t dream big and I’m sorry you don’t believe in miracles… Lance Armstrong

Testing: we will never do enough of it. Greg LeMond

Illegal drug use runs contrary to the image of health depicted by cycling. Distributors of these drugs must be prosecuted more harshly as they are criminals. Bernard Hinault

I do want to be a spokesman for clean cycling – I believe somebody has to stand up for the current generation. I’m happy to do that. Chris Froome

I was a nice guy, but I was a dick a lot of the time as well. David Millar

Even good people are obliged to deceive. Greg LeMond

My epiphany came in that police cell: I’d come to hate cycling because I blamed it for the lie I was living. David Millar

If Lance is clean, it is the greatest comeback in the history of sports. If he isn’t, it would be the greatest fraud. Greg LeMond

For 50 years bike racers have been taking stimulants. Obviously we can do without them in a race, but then we will pedal 15 miles an hour (instead of 25). Since we are constantly asked to go faster and to make even greater efforts, we are obliged to take stimulants. Jacques Anquetil

There is no pill, no drug, that can do for you what one hour of exercise can. Greg LeMond

Professional sport is not always pretty, not always happy, and Pantani’s death was an object lesson in what can lie under the glistening exterior. For that reason as much as what he achieved, he should be remembered. William Fotheringham

You’d have to be an imbecile or hypocrite to imagine that a professional cyclist who rides 235 days a year can hold himself together without stimulants. Jacques Anquetil

It took the genius of Pantani to wake me up to the brilliance of the sport. Wheels whirrin’ up the Galibier in ’98. The Pirate King never cheated me, whatever was coursing through his veins. Anymore than Georgie Best cheated me by scoring wonder goals after suckin’ on a bottle of vodka. I didn’t care. They were magnificent, both. Jonny Green

Everybody wants to know what I’m on. What am I on? I’m on my bike busting my ass six hours a day. What are you on? Lance Armstrong

Leave me in peace, everybody takes dope. Jacques Anquetil

I am flawed, deeply flawed. I didn’t invent the [doping] culture but I didn’t try to stop the culture and that’s my mistake, and that’s what I have to be sorry for. Lance Armstrong

I have never cheated anybody out of a victory, I have worked hard for every single race that I have won. Lizzie Deignan, née Armitstead

The riskiest thing you can do is get greedy. Lance Armstrong

I may be in timeout forever. Lance Armstrong

Nobody is going to feel sorry for me if I’ve lost a dollar or $100m. Lance Armstrong

Unfortunately this is the legacy that has been handed to us by the people before us, people who have won the Tour only to disappoint fans a few years later, if this is part of the process we have to go through to get the sport to the better place, obviously I’m here, I’m doing it. Chris Froome

The most important decision I ever made in my career was to live my life in sports as honestly and ethically as possible. Never having compromised my values allows me to look back on my life with no regrets and feel satisfaction in what I was able to accomplish. Greg LeMond

I tried to control the narrative. Lance Armstrong

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Fame

I expected that I’d have to do a lot of training, cycling, winning. I didn’t expect I’d have to do a lot of interviews. Peter Sagan

Sometimes it’s strange being me. I travel the world meeting people, I’m surrounded with friends and my life is full, but all the time I am confronted by a young man I have nothing in common with. He is me, but he is not me now. In fact I have been me now for longer than I was him, but no one wants to know about me. Eddy Merckx

It is nice to be recognised for actually achieving something in life as opposed to spending seven weeks in a house on TV with a load of other muppets. Victoria Pendleton

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Gear

I still feel that variable gears are only for people over 45. Isn’t it better to triumph by the strength of your muscles than by the artifice of a derailleur? Henri Desgrange

There is a temptation to view those making steel frames in Italy as the last of the partisans. Besieged but resolute, they subsist on the fringes, railing against the carbon-centric, profit driven expedience of the corporations which have consumed their country’s cycling heritage. It’s an attractive, romanticised view of the artisan mindset, but I’m not entirely sure it conforms to the reality. Herbie Sykes

There is a meditative, Zen-like quality to riding a fixed. More than ever, you are intimately aware of your cadence, the relationship between leg speed and ground speed. Matt Seaton

Bicycle racers often complain and demand performances from their bicycles that is not yet possible. I’ve noticed that Shimano is always willing to listen to what I have to say about their components, even when I complain. Johan Museeuw

We were rushing in terms of innovations. It was like climbing a very steep hill on a bicycle – Mortirolo or Alpe d’Huez – without any training. When you do a big effort without training, you have acid in your legs, in your arms, and also in your brain. Valentino Campagnolo

I suppose in some way it’s easy to see me as representative of a lost world. With the exception of Pegoretti, Tomassini and a few subcontractors here and there, nobody makes bikes in Italy anymore. Alberto Masi

To ride a fixed-gear bike is to feel that your bike, and not just your bike but your whole experience as a rider, runs back through time as a strand of DNA that connects you with the original essence of cycling. Matt Seaton

Find a brand that grips, wears well and rarely punctures and it will take pretty compelling reasons to change. Ian Cleverly

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Life

My biggest fear isn’t crashing this bike at 85mph and losing my skin – it’s sitting in a chair at 90 and thinking ‘I wish I’d done more.’ Graeme Obree

I am confident that when I get really old, the human lifespan will be extended. Jens Voigt

I am not a robot; I am a member of a family – my commitment to them comes over and above my commitment to cycling. Lizzie Deignan, née Armitstead

Cycling has given me everything. Victoria Pendleton

Integrity is something I strive for in every part of my life. Lizzie Deignan, née Armitstead

I guess I still prefer mountain biking, but then, road cycling can make a living. Peter Sagan

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Mountains

In reality, climbing mountains has always been more about feeling and sensations than doing as you are told by an electronic device or a know-it-all by the side of the road. No, it’s not stubbornness: I put that down to artistic interpretation the climber is allowed as an entertainer because, let’s face it, the climber on the team is usually a little bit quirky and it’s no good trying to rein in a talent that looks so awesome when performed at the top level Robert Millar

I was never one to get scared on a descent. But coming down the Stelvio, with my hands freezing, having to close one eye for the tunnels, and then hope for the best once you were inside, is something I’ll never forget. I was petrified. Brian Smith

The key is being able to endure psychologically. When you’re not riding well, you think, why suffer? Why push yourself for four or five hours? The mountains are the pinnacle of suffering. Greg LeMond

L’Alpe will always remain wild, messy, joyous, dirty, noisy, smelly, and ecstatically passionate. Until the day that the Tour burghers introduce turnstiles down in Bourg d’Oisans and ring the mountain with a high barrier taken from Glastonbury and a giant wall from the Gaza Strip, there can be no serious control. Thank goodness! Jonny Green

Anyone who imagines they can work alone winds up surrounded by nothing but rivals, without companions. The fact is, no one ascends alone. Lance Armstrong

One brutal acceleration might be enough, or it might take five or six, but when the elastic snaps and no one can follow any longer you’ll be on your own – and believe me, there’s nothing more a climber can ask for than dancing away at the head of the race alone. Alone against nature, no numbers involved. Robert Millar

What attracted me to the Stelvio was its beauty. I covered the Giro in 2005, but that year they closed it to the cars on the race – so the riders went up, but no one else. I wanted to go back, because for me it is the most mystical mountain. A special thing. Timm Kölln

When you are on a climb, you always pick out people’s words of encouragement, and it can push us on, without doubt. Lizzie Deignan, née Armitstead

French riders know how to pace and structure mountain stages, they have a lively Baroudeur spirit, they seize opportunity with tenacious alacrity when it offers, they prepare themselves better, they train more rigorously and more intelligently. Marc Madiot

Fulfilling your contract – that’s to ride across a col in the Pyrenees at least once alone and at the head of the race. It’s to attack on Mont Ventoux as though your life depended on it. Raphaël Géminiani

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Nutrition

While I’m not very talented at cooking, I am very talented at eating. Jens Voigt

When you’re eating salad and quinoa while training, all you want is a burger. When I’m doing 30-odd hours of exercise a week, I’m dreaming of the burgers and curries that I’ll have at the end of the season.Geraint Thomas

To prepare for a race there is nothing better than a good pheasant, some champagne and a woman. Jacques Anquetil

We were water-finders and water-fetchers, and over the years you developed a sixth sense for where the bars and fountains would be. A really good gregario could smell water. Germano Barale

As long as my weight is healthy, then I eat what I want. Lizzie Deignan, née Armitstead

The nutritionists come up with all these funny drinks, with all these vitamins and so on. But you know what’s the best thing for you when your body is in a good condition? Water. Just clear, good water. The liver and kidneys do not have to work hard to separate all the shit. Water cleans you. Willy Balmat

November and therefore after the cycling off season, my drinking form is in peak condition, so a training ride is still possible.Geraint Thomas

Give a man a fish and feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and feed him for a lifetime. Teach a man to cycle and he will realise fishing is stupid and boring.Desmond Tutu

I can’t think of anything better than chocolate. I eat it upon getting up in the morning and every time I come across it in the day. I like it dark, dry and hard. But I’ve never been able to eat a bit of it on the bike. The bike eliminates my taste for chocolate by turning it into a sticky, nauseating goo. No doubt I should see this as a nice lesson in the non-concurrence of pleasures. Paul Fournel

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Paris–Roubaix

Paris–Roubaix is bullshit. Bernard Hinault

There’s always fucking mud and cow shit all over the roads. I’m pretty sure the farmers do it deliberately. They plough the fields and then drive along the cobbles, just knowing that we’re there the following day. Roger Hammond

It’s a circus and I don’t want to be one of the clowns. Chris Boardman

It’s because the conditions are so tough that they can break riders and they can smash dreams. And that’s what we want, we want this uncertainty. Jorgen Leth

It’s bollocks, this race! You’re working like an animal; you don’t have time to piss; you wet your pants. You’re riding in mud like this; you’re slipping. It’s a piece of shit. Theo de Rooij

You have to be pretty heavy, or the cobbles will just hop you all over the place. And, usually, if you have the weight, you have the power – if you’re any good. Sean Kelly

I don’t believe that Paris-Roubaix is a race that any rider truly likes. There’s nothing enjoyable about it except the fact that it’s the world’s most famous one-day race. Julian Dean

It seemed romantic but also tragic – people would be winning but then lose it all, or crash but fight on, break bones but get back on their bikes and try to finish. Just getting to the end was seen as an achievement in itself. David Millar

I could say that the cobbles of Roubaix do not suit my position on the bike, but probably I’m just not made from the right mould for Paris-Roubaix. My time in Roubaix ’07 was actually one of the most honest and stark realisations of my cycling career. Julian Dean

A Paris–Roubaix without rain is not a true Paris–Roubaix. Throw in a little snow as well: it’s not serious.Sean Kelly

It’s a dangerous part of the race, sure, but everyone knows it’s there. Do we take the Arenberg out of Paris-Roubaix just because it’s dangerous? The Kemmelberg is part of Gent-Wevelgem. If we took it out, it would lose its identity. What do we do? Just have a race on a highway? Roger Hammond

At the end of Roubaix you feel like you do at the end of a three-week Grand Tour. I love it. Ian Stannard

What have we done to deserve being sent to hell? It’s an obscenity. Bernard Hinault

I’m the world cyclo cross champion, but if someone had suggested holding a race of that discipline on this route, I would have refused. At twenty-seven, I’m too young to die. Roger De Vlaeminck

These little Spanish guys come to ride [Paris-Roubaix], even though they don’t want to. I’ve seen the Kelme riders there, and they’re shaking before the start. Some of them ride as far as the feeding station at Compiegne and climb off, before the first sector of cobbles. Sean Kelly

In the end I didn’t achieve it. But what would have happened if I had achieved it? It would have been like retiring. If I had won Roubaix in 2004… I’m almost a little bit frightened about what I would have done with the rest of my career. Roger Hammond

Paris-Roubaix starts like a party and ends as a bad dream. Guy Lagorce

Paris-Roubaix is the best race in the world… Getting to the velodrome — whether I am the winner or the last one — everything will end there, that’s all I want. Bradley Wiggins

The secret is confidence. I often started with the idea that I was going to win. I missed my chance once or twice but no more than that. Roger De Vlaeminck

I did 264.9 kilometres perfectly, and then fucked it up in last hundred metres. Roger Hammond

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Passion

I love cycling. I am going to keep racing as hard as I can until this body doesn’t allow me to any more. Chris Froome

Actually, cycling is not a sport. It’s closer to a film and literature. The riders are heroic figures. To understand [cycling], we need to look at the motives for creating road races in the first place – to sell newspapers and bicycles. Herman Chevrolet

Passion can be internal and there is passion in process. Just because the emotion is not put on public display we should never, ever, assume it is not there. Histrionics have their place, but there is plenty going on elsewhere. William Fotheringham

Flecha is a rider who rides on passion and emotion more than anyone I know. He needs to be feeling right and be in the right environment to get the most out of himself. Matthew Hayman

If you look at cycling as a form of drama or fiction and explore possible scenarios, you will see an ever evolving masterpiece of human drama up there with the very best – Dante, Homer, Shakespeare, you name it. The great stage races and the spring classics have it all to match the very best of cinema and literature. Herman Chevrolet

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Performance

Good morale in cycling comes from good legs. Sean Yates

By now, we have learnt that game-changing ideas do not come from experts, they come from people who haven’t got a clue and ask stupid questions. Chris Boardman

It really is all about believing in yourself: 80 per cent mental, 20 per cent physical. Victoria Pendleton

Motivation can’t take you very far if you don’t have the legs. Lance Armstrong

It is exactly the unattainability, which differentiates a dream from a goal: Goals are reachable, when you fight for them. Dreams are not. Athletes shouldn’t dream, but set goals for themselves and fight for them. Fabian Cancellara

I’m the only person in the world to have broken a cycling speed record in a Winter Olympics stadium, on the wrong day, in front on nine people. Graeme Obree

If I had been born with an aggressive character, then maybe my palmarès would have been longer. Miguel Indurain

What athletes do may not be that healthy, the way we push our bodies completely over the edge to the degrees that are not human. I’ve said all along that I will not live as long as the average person. Lance Armstrong

I never considered myself particularly gifted, but I managed to stretch and mould the ability that I have, and found a niche for myself. Chris Boardman

The French say ‘a bloc’. The English term is far more specific, ‘on the rivet’ The rivet in question is right on the nose of a leather saddle – it’s where you’ll sit, on the tip of the saddle, to give it everything and the art of riding flat out has been expressed this way for the past century. Richard Hallett

I am one of the best in the world, and it’s a position I should get used to being in. Lizzie Deignan, née Armitstead

Apart from the fact that I can move the bike fast, I am basically Joe Average. Jens Voigt

Succeeding in sport is about how much practise you put in. Victoria Pendleton

My strength was that I am more balanced and calmer than most other riders. Miguel Indurain

One of the redeeming things about being an athlete is redefining what is humanly possible. Lance Armstrong

There’s never anything you do where you can’t think of a way to do it better. Chris Boardman

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Philosophical

There are few things that you can’t do as long as you are willing to apply yourself. Greg LeMond

Having things organised is for small-minded people. Genius controls chaos. Jens Voigt

If there was a god, I’d still have both nuts. Lance Armstrong

To be free and to live a free life – that is the most beautiful thing there is. Miguel Indurain

We cyclists are contradictory and contrary in our attachments. On the one hand, the emotional bond we each have with our bikes is real and deep and enduring. On the other, we are as fickle and promiscuous as the most unfaithful Casanova. Matt Seaton

Life is like a 10-speed bicycle. Most of us have gears we never use. Charles M. Schultz

Whenever I see an adult on a bicycle, I do not despair for the human race. HG Wells

I want to die at a hundred years old with an American flag on my back and the star of Texas on my helmet, after screaming down an Alpine descent on a bicycle at 75 miles per hour. Lance Armstrong

Everyone in their life has his own particular way of expressing life’s purpose – the lawyer his eloquence, the painter his palette, and the man of letters his pen from which the quick words of his story flow. I have my bicycle. Gino Bartoli

I have always struggled to achieve excellence. One thing that cycling has taught me is that if you can achieve something without a struggle, it’s not going to be satisfying. Greg LeMond

Hopefully I’ve shown them (fellow cyclists) you just need some self-belief and that you need to take your destiny into your own hands instead of waiting for it. You have to go out and force it. You need to go out and take life, and shape your life and destiny the way you need it. I hope I can pass that message along. Jens Voigt

The problems in the world we have to change.The situation is very difficult. I want to say to all the people: change this world. Peter Sagan

Think of bicycles as ridable art that can just about save the world. Grant Petersen

Nothing compares to the simple pleasure of riding a bike. John F. Kennedy

The bicycle is a curious vehicle. Its passenger is its engine. John Howard

Bicycling is a big part of the future. It has to be. There’s something wrong with a society that drives a car to workout in a gym. Bill Nye

When I got the bike I must have been the happiest boy in Liverpool, maybe the world. John Lennon

You ‘mustn’t’ nothing in your life. I don’t ‘must’ nothing in the life, just die. It’s important, yeah, but I have also a future in front of me. Peter Sagan

I used to work in a bank when I was younger and to me it doesn’t matter whether it’s raining or the sun is shining or whatever: as long as I’m riding a bike I know I’m the luckiest guy in the world. Mark Cavendish

Through my illness I learned rejection. I was written off. That was the moment I thought, Okay, game on. No prisoners. Everybody’s going down. Lance Armstrong

Understand before you pass judgement. But how do you pass judgement once you have understood? Laurent Fignon

A bicycle ride around the world begins with a single pedal stroke. Scott Stoll

Life is like riding a bicycle. In order to keep your balance, you must keep moving. Albert Einstein

Learn to ride a bicycle. You will not regret it if you live. Mark Twain

I inherited that calm from my father, who was a farmer. You sow, you wait for good or bad weather, you harvest, but working is something you always need to do. Miguel Indurain

Good is something you do, not something you talk about. Some medals are pinned to your soul, not to your jacket. Gino Bartoli

The biggest losers are those who care only about winning. Lance Armstrong

Sincere apologies are for those that make them, not for those to whom they are made. Greg LeMond

I have always advocated the following to my peers: on the basis that an athlete does not consciously choose to be an example to society, everyone is free to act according to his or her interests. If one wants to behave in an exemplary manner in all aspects of one’s life, one is free to do so. But if one doesn’t and if what one wants is to lead one’s life as normally and as anonymously as possible, then so be it. Pedro Horrillo

If constellations had been named in the 20th century, I suppose we would see bicycles. Carl Sagan

Just do what you love doing. That’s my only advice. Peter Sagan

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Places

It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Ernest Hemingway

When I ride in faraway places in unknown climes, I have to tame them before being able to discover, for good, the surrounding world. Paul Fournel

In this elemental battle of muscle and bone, rubber and metal against wind, water and stone, the odds in the long run are stacked in nature’s favour. Like the memorial in Chapel-le-Dale to the navvies who died building the Ribblehead viaduct, the riders will have their records as long as human memory endures. But the Three Peaks will always be there. Matt Seaton

In Italy it’s full-on stardom when you’re a cyclist – eating in restaurants for free, it’s great. David Millar

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Racing

As long as I breathe, I attack. Bernard Hinault

(Click to shop Bernard Hinault quote mug)

When it’s hurting you, that’s when you can make a difference. Eddy Merckx

In sport you always think the strongest guy should be going for it and getting the best results. The thing is, cycling also has a very important team aspect, which I don’t think that a lot of people fully grasp. Chris Froome

Perhaps the single most important element in mastering the techniques and tactics of racing is experience. But once you have the fundamentals, acquiring the experience is a matter of time. Greg LeMond

Cycling is not rocket science. Jens Voigt

When your legs scream stop and your lungs are bursting, that’s when it starts. That’s the hurt locker. Winners love it in there. Chris McCormack

Racing made it possible for me to express myself for who I was and what I truly felt. Defeat, such as the many I experienced with Merckx, stayed with me until the moment I went to sleep. The next morning was always a new day in which everything began again from the start, as though the past did not exist. Felice Gimondi

The perfect performance is never enough; chance always plays a part. To win, you must be favoured by fortune. And that is outside your control. Matt Seaton

I was awarded ‘Most Aggressive Rider of the Day’, generally given to the most spectacular loser of the day. David Millar

In my time it was different. When I knew the wind was strong, I attacked myself to make the race as hard as possible. Eddy Merckx

Every race is a war. Every race is a fight. If you don’t go into every event with that belief, you will never achieve your goals. Fabian Cancellara

Age and treachery will overcome youth and skill. Fausto Coppi

(Click to shop Fausto Coppi quote mug)

Stage racing isn’t about being quick, is it? Stage racing is about the ability to perform consistently for three weeks under intense mental and physical pressure. Franco Balmamion

Racing is a very selfish, self-centred, self-glorifying thing. My wife’s life for 14 years was centred around me. It was all about me. It was all for my ego. Greg LeMond

I’m not racing for recognition, I’m not racing for popularity, that’s not who I am. I’m focused on the result and trying to get the best out of myself from a sporting capacity. That’s what really motivates me. Chris Froome

It’s the price to pay for becoming a pro. There’s rarely a win without backstabbing or betrayal on the way. You’re seen as an idiot if you don’t play the game. And if you ever speak up, you’re out. One man can never beat the peloton, let alone change it. Herman Chevrolet

There are no races. Only lotteries. Jacques Anquetil

The gap is tantalising, so easy to close with just a few kicks for a rider with fresh legs. But for you, with your seized muscles, it is a yawning chasm, an unbridgeable gulf: you are being condemned to watch the chosen ones being transported away as if on a conveyor belt to Elysian fields, while you, poor wretch, are a lost soul in the underworld, one of the damned. Matt Seaton

The harder the race, the better. Lizzie Deignan, née Armitstead

I attack, I get in the breaks – I always attacked on my own as an amateur. I like to be out in front, away from the crowd. Sylvain Chavanel

He lifts his head and then his arms in a beautiful unfurling which resembles taking flight. At that moment of glory, he smiles at his strength and the logos inscribed on his jersey are perfectly readable. He’s a good salesman, the sprinter. Paul Fournel

Every time I race, I will race so fiercely my legs cry. Jens Voigt

A boo is a lot louder than a cheer. Lance Armstrong

I race to win, not to please people. Bernard Hinault

The manner in which one loses the battle can sometimes outshine the victory. David Millar

The cardinal sin in a break is not to do your share of the work. Likewise, to do more than your share of the work. One is dishonour, the other sheer stupidity. Matt Seaton

I prefer to see a rider make eight attacks which come to nothing and a ninth which brings a win. This attitude gives cycling a good image. Thomas Voeckler

I’m often asked: ‘What a strange combination: chess and cycling?’ But I reply that that it is not so strange when you think that soccer players are always playing cards on their training camps. It’s the same thing! They like games – that’s why they’ve become good soccer players. It’s a logical combination of a physical sport and a mental sport. Tim Krabbe

When you get second place, you say ‘I could have won it here, I could have won it there.’ When you win, you never say anything; it’s finished. Greg LeMond

If you go to the line knowing you have given it absolutely 100% in every training session you have done, you know that there’s nothing else you could have done and that helps you to deal with the pressure. Chris Hoy

Team Sky head coach Rod Ellingwoth once told me that he knew he had retired from racing when he woke up and, for the first time in ten years, the first thought that came into his head wasn’t: have I got a sore throat? Tom Southam

You have to be brash if you want to win. Peter Sagan

In competition, everything is very well planned in advance and very well detailed. You just stick to the plan, keep your head down and be as disciplined as possible in every aspect, whether sleep, recovery or the intensity of your training. And it’s all recorded; the data is analysed. Victoria Pendleton

Going up the Cauberg I was sprinting flat out and my legs were full of lactic acid but I had to keep going. It was the longest 1,000m of my career. Tony Martin

There’s a terrible delight in watching a rival sink without a trace. Bernard Hinault

The only thing that I can do – and the only thing that I’ve always done – is to ride my bike fast and get my head down and control the things I can control. Lizzie Deignan, née Armitstead

If you go with a break, you can either win or not win. If you don’t go for it, you definitely won’t win. Jens Voigt

The more you can hurt yourself racing, the better the results you are going to get. So pain is a relative subject and you’ve got so many forms of pain. Obviously crashing is one pain and forcing yourself to hurt by riding fast is a different type of pain, and is a more enjoyable one as well. Magnus Backstedt

Joy of winning – nothing beats that – and the joy of winning a sprint. It’s like an orgasm, really. Even winning a GC isn’t as good. There’s a rush of relief to have finished the thing and to still have the jersey, but it’s much softer and a much slower burn. To win a sprint – even a two-man sprint – it’s that feeling of not knowing if you are going to get it and then that last fraction of a second to take it. The intensity of that buzz is unsurpassable. Malcolm Elliott

The best that can be said of the hill climb is, as philosopher Thomas Hobbes wrote of human life, that it is ‘nasty, brutish and short’. Matt Seaton

The Olympic race is weird. Peter Sagan

You don’t suffer, kill yourself and take the risks I take just for money. I love bike racing. Greg LeMond

I hardly ever win races, but I don’t often miss the break either – which is not much of a boast when you think about it. But I’d rather be there than not. To miss the break is the worst feeling in the world: to have to ride but for it no longer to mean anything. You die a little inside when that happens. Matt Seaton

Cycling has more dimensions than any other mainstream sport. In a few moments, the deciding factor can pivot between the most brutal of physical ability to the subtlest of tactics; from a team game to an individual battle; from pure willingness to blot out the pain to some of the world’s most complex aerodynamics. Michael Hutchinson

Crossing the line and being world champion, I’ve always dreamt about it, and now I’ve done it. It’s quite a surreal feeling, but obviously very special. Lizzie Deignan, née Armitstead

But what of the crowd? For they make these meetings. They are the reason the riders ride, and the sponsors… Sponse. Without the unwashed hordes, there is no Revolution; even the French know that. Ned Boulting

Baroudeurs aren’t always liked. ‘Again!‘ the peloton says to itself when they attack. It is the baroudeurs who hand out leg ache. Paul Fournel

There are too many factors you have to take into account that you have no control over… The most important factor you can keep in your own hands is yourself. I always placed the greatest emphasis on that. Eddy Merckx

I get paid to hurt other people; how good is that? Jens Voigt

Uphill, downhill; I like that. Peter Sagan

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Rivalries

Eddy and I complemented each other. I was the speed, he was the strength, and we were friends. That was very important. And he was always very motivated for the win. Every time. As was I. Patrick Sercu

Coppi? Is he the one we followed in the Giro del Piemonte? The guy who is as skinny as an asparagus? He doesn’t lack courage, I’ll give you that, but I think he’s kind of fragile. Gino Bartoli

When I interviewed Poulidor, at his home in the Limousin, I asked him about the rivalry with Anquetil. ‘It was real, venomous,’ he replied, ‘and we were proud that there was nothing false in it.’ They has been true to themselves, despite the publicity and journalistic hype. And afterwards? ‘Oh, great friendship.’ Graeme Fife

What did Roche do? Everybody knows what he did, and he knows what he did. The problem is I can’t do anything about it because I’d end up in prison… Roberto Visentini

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Road Safety

It’s a risky business being a cyclist in the UK, there are a lot of people who really dislike us. It’s the Jeremy Clarkson influence – we’re hated on the roads. We just hope people realise we are just flesh and bones on two wheels. Victoria Pendleton

When they come at me now with the victim-blaming arguments, you know, “Cyclists need to wear helmets, hi-vis, lights” it’s like asking someone you’re shooting at to wear another bulletproof vest. Chris Boardman

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Style

The best riders let their bike speak for them. Hinault’s bike had a singular eloquence. Graeme Fife

Cycling is based so much on form, on aesthetics, on class – the way you carry yourself on the bike, the sort of technique you have. David Millar

Pantani could be attention-seeking, but never brash – even in the flamboyant guise of Il Pirata, with earring and bandana, there was an awkwardness about Pantani. Even at his swashbuckling pomp, he would rarely look you in the eye. He was the actor who needed to assume a role before he could express himself – or not himself, but the character he was pretending to be, the guise he was hiding behind. Richard Moore

I don’t mind what people say about style. If it’s the quickest way to get from A to B, that’s how we’re going to do it. Chris Froome

From its founding to its heyday atop De Vlaeminck to its contemporary reputation, the Brooklyn jersey has embodied chaos, cultural collapse, mercenary marketing, misplaced nostalgia and ignorance of history – yet, also, somehow, victory, tenacity, and beauty. It’s the perfect American jersey. Bill Strickland

They all laughed at my handlebars, my great big handlebars. But I got into a lovely flat position when I was on that bike. Eileen Sheridan

Someone came up to me a week or two back and asked if it was true that I would try to psyche out the opposition by rubbing dirt over my bar tape to make it look like I’d done lots of training. I just laughed at him – nothing could be further from the truth. My bar tape had to be, and still has to be, immaculate. Clean tape is the one thing that’s important. Malcolm Elliott

We need to get back to a cyclisme with more character, to feel the character of the riders. Riders who pack 300,400 watts. I’d like to hurl a grenade into the peloton. Marc Madiot

I did a Hulk expression because when he gets angry he turns green and more powerful. Peter Sagan

When I started out, the professional teams ordered kit from you and paid for it, like any other customer. You weren’t a ‘sponsor’ and you weren’t at liberty to put your name on the jersey. If you look at old photos of professional cyclists in wool jerseys you’ll often see the hem of the jersey turned inside out, with a tiny label showing. That was the best you could do back then – that was our marketing. Pietro Santini

The bicycle is already a musical instrument on its own. The noise of the bicycle chain, the pedal and gear mechanism, for example, the breathing of the cyclist, we have incorporated all this in the Krafwerk sound. Ralf Hütter

I shave my legs twice a week. It’s hard the first time you do it. But I’m very lazy. For a team photo in December I just did the fronts. David Millar

I do it like Forrest Gump. When they told him to run, he ran. When they tell me to win, I win. Peter Sagan

(Click to shop Peter Sagan quote mug)

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Suffering

After the finish all the suffering turns to memories of pleasure, and the greater the suffering, the greater the pleasure. That is Nature’s payback to riders for the homage they pay her by suffering. Tim Krabbe

Real heroes are others, those who have suffered in their soul, in their heart, in their spirit, in their mind, for their loved ones. Those are the real heroes. Im just a cyclist. Gino Bartoli

The best rides are the ones where you bite off much more than you can chew, and live through it. Doug Bradbury

I become a happier man each time I suffer. Lance Armstrong

Cyclists live with pain. If you can’t handle it you will win nothing. Eddy Merckx

Cycling is suffering. Fausto Coppi

After I rode up the climb in the morning, without being able to pull on the bars, I got off my bike and said to the mechanic, ‘Give me a tubular, I can pull on it with my teeth.’ Fiorenzo Magni

What is it with this masochistic obsession with endurance? End-to-end, Paris-Brest-Paris, the Race Across America – there is a mania for outlasting and overriding all the senses. My feeling is that when a malign fate ordains you to endure, then endure you must. But why do it out of choice? If the answer is ‘Because it’s there,’ then the sane response is no, it’s not there. You put it there. Graeme Fife

It was eleven more than necessary. Jacques Anquetil

Cycling isn’t a game, it’s a sport. Tough, hard and unpitying, and it requires great sacrifices. One plays football, or tennis, or hockey. One doesn’t play at cycling. Jean de Gribaldy

If it hurts me, it must hurt the other ones twice as much. Jens Voigt

Cycling is quite a pure sport: it is mainly about suffering, whether you are climbing the Tourmalet, racing up Mont Ventoux, or trying to survive in Paris-Roubaix. Bradley Wiggins

Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. If I quit, however, it lasts forever. Lance Armstrong

It doesn’t matter if you’re sprinting for an Olympic gold medal, a town sign, a trailhead, or the rest stop with the homemade brownies. If you never confront pain, you’re missing the essence of the sport. Scott Martin

Often the best guys are just those that can suffer longer, who don’t give up. And it’s so easy to give up, when you’re on a mountain and it’s really hurting. We go through a lot physically. David Millar

It contains the intimacies of suffering put under the microscope of each day, the tiny details that needed to be noted down, each minor triumph, each niggling pain, each gain, every doubt, every cold, every day off the rider didn’t want to take. Tom Southam

In my most painful moments on the bike, I am at my most curious and I wonder each and every time how I will respond. Lance Armstrong

The only cure for rain dread is to finish feeling you have accomplished something epic, not only to win a place but to feel that you have faced a threat to your very survival and overcome it. The conditions were hard, butyou were harder. Matt Seaton

Everybody tells me that I never look as if I’m suffering. But, when I watch videotapes of a race, I always remember the pain I had to endure. Miguel Indurain

I’m fascinated by the sprinters. They suffer so much during the race just to get to the finish, they hang on for dear life in the climbs, but then in the final kilometres they are transformed and do amazing things. It’s not their force per se that impresses me, but rather the renaissance they experience. Seeing them suffer throughout the race only to be reborn in the final is something for fascination. Miguel Indurain

Cycling is so hard, the suffering is so intense, that it’s absolutely cleansing. The pain is so deep and strong that a curtain descends over your brain….Once; someone asked me what pleasure I took in riding for so long. ‘Pleasure?!’ I said. ‘I don’t understand the question.’ I didn’t do it for the pleasure; I did it for the pain. Lance Armstrong

Shut up legs and do what I tell you. Jens Voigt

You can say that climbers suffer the same as the other riders, but they suffer in a different way. You feel the pain, but you’re glad to be there. Richard Virenque

The race is won by the rider who can suffer the most. Eddy Merckx

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Time Trials

Plenty of riders turn up as if facing an apocalypse. There’s no room for miracles in this discipline. The time trial is hell. It’s a punishment and a disability. Who can and who can’t? It’s clear to see. Nothing else is as revealing. The style will tell on the man. Jorgen Leth

I’m certainly not a time trialist. But over short distances, like a prologue, I can maximise my power. Peter Sagan

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Tour de France

At the Tour, you always have some fantastic days and some days where you hit the asphalt. Jens Voigt

The Tour is the only race in the world where you have to get a haircut halfway through. Chris Boardman

It’s the stuff of dreams. As a child, being a fan of the sport, I never imagined that one day I’d be in this position. Kids from Kilburn don’t become favourite for the Tour de France. You’re supposed to become a postman or a milkman or work in Ladbrokes. Bradley Wiggins

Only a natural disaster will prevent me from winning the green jersey. Peter Sagan

Suffering for eight hours… the most unpleasant experience I’ve ever had. Chris Boardman

I know it is possible to win the Tour without taking anything. Greg LeMond

I’ve pushed [Greg LeMond] as hard as I can, sparing him nothing, to put him under maximum pressure. If he doesn’t buckle, that means he’s a champion and deserves to win the race. Bernard Hinault

The problem with being a Tour de France winner is you always have that feeling of disappointment if you don’t win again. That’s the curse of the Tour de France. Greg LeMond

I love this race from the very depths of my heart. It gives me motivation and it transcends me like nothing else in the world. Lance Armstrong

My wife is so hot so I don’t care if I lose every stage of the 2015 Tour to Kittel. Yeah, he’s got cool hair but my wife is super hot. Mark Cavendish

I did try to win a sixth, but it was not to be. Miguel Indurain

I’m lucky that mountain biking wasn’t around when I was 20, because I wouldn’t have won the Tour de France. It’s my kind of sport – hard, individualistic, and not a lot of tactics. Greg LeMond

By the time we reached the Tour, we had done the equivalent of other team’s whole years. We were all dead on our feet. I remember sitting in the car travelling to one race and realising I had been staring out of the window for an hour, absolutely nothing going through my head. I wasn’t there. Paul Watson

Right, we’re just going to draw the raffle. Bradley Wiggins

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Track

Even when you feel as though everything is 100% it can still go wrong on the night (like in Melbourne!) so you never know for sure that you’re going to do the performance you expect. Chris Hoy

At some tracks the clatter of racing and caterwauling of applause is augmented by the amplified thump of a live band. In Ghent, the hardcore heart of Belgian racing, there is none of that. It’s a no-frills demotic: bikes, beer, burghers and burgers. Graeme Fife

If road races give spectators but a fleeting glance as the racers whizz past, in the velodrome the action is constant and the riders are tapped in a wooden bowl; a sporting panopticon. Jack Thurston

With feet double-strapped into toe clips, the trackstand was a stratagem not without risk: you had to be sure that you could smoothly ride to a dead stop, hold it, then check over your shoulder or under your arm where your opponent was trying to match your balancing act, so you would know on which side he’d have to set off if he lost his nerve first. Matt Seaton

The original Six-Day event was just that: a 144-hour endurance test for individual riders, with minimal stops for sleep. Cynical hacks dubbed it “the race to nowhere”. Riders finished in a state of nervous collapse, physically demolished, ruins of men. Graeme Fife

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Training

Ride as much or as little, as long or as short as you feel. But ride. Eddy Merckx

The only thing we can truly control is ourselves, everything else is varying degrees of influence. Chris Boardman

It’s only in the last couple of years that I’ve fully understood what it is to be a professional road cyclist. I used to run amok in the off-season, get on the beers and wine with the excuse that I deserved some downtime. Not good enough. It’s a 24/7 thing 12 months of the year if you want to succeed. Deal with it. Bradley Wiggins

Training can be monotonous, and it is hard work, but you never lose sight of why you are doing it. Every single effort of every single session counts in the months and years leading up to a big event. Chris Hoy

I like my hands. Which is lucky as I have to spend all day looking at them on the handlebars. David Millar

Talent is one thing, multi-faceted and difficult to encompass, the clearing away of all psychological blocks to the raw imperative of work is another, and the capacity to commit total effort to the bike is, or ought to be, for a professional, yet another: straight-bloody-forward and simple. Graeme Fife

Training is bad for you! Training followed by rest and proper nutrition is good for you and will make you better prepared for the event you are training for. Graeme Obree

It never gets easier; you just go faster. Greg LeMond

(Click to shop Greg Lemond quote mug.)

I raced because I was paid to do a job and I felt like I had to do the job. Number two: I raced because I loved the process, I loved training, getting ready for the race, I loved all of that. And number three I raced for my memories. Regardless of what somebody wants to give or take away, you can’t take my memories. Lance Armstrong

The answer is hard work. What are you doing on Christmas Eve? Are you riding your bike? January 1st – are you riding your bike? Lance Armstrong

Sometimes, when we train, we simply have to go out to meet the Man with the Hammer. Laurent Fignon

We addressed a whole host of things, pinpointed three or four key areas and thought: ‘You know what? People talk about doing the simple things well, so, what if we do the simple things brilliantly?‘ and that became our everyday practice. A competitive advantage. Sir David Brailsford

Winter cycling is like teenage love. You dream about the pleasure, you remember the pain. William Fotheringham

No doubt somewhere in the world it’s raining and cold, but Italian riders just don’t ride in the rain. Massimo Casati

What is training but making pain seem routine? You work the body, yes, but the real point of training is to accustom the mind to endure discomfort: to know it, recognise it, lose your fear of it, tolerate it and even, finally, to learn to like it. Matt Seaton

I bear the marks of my biker’s tan all winter. It’s my second skin. I derive neither shame nor glory from it. I take it on, and, with the first rays of the spring sun, I put down another layer. Paul Fournel

Don’t buy upgrades. Ride up grades. Eddy Merckx

Ride your bike, ride your bike, ride your bike. Fausto Coppi

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