• Who will reign as Australia's most popular cyclist of all-time? (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
ProCyclingStats collected statistics of a different kind this off-season, taking votes from the public on their 15 favourite cyclists from history and compiling them to form 'The Favourite 500'.
By
SBS Cycling Central

4 Jan - 10:55 AM 

Only one per cent of the voters were Australian in the global poll, perhaps reflecting why some of our local legends are quite as high as one might guess. The ProCyclingstats poll was conducted for the first time this year, asking participants to list their 15 favourite riders, male and female, of all time.

Counting down in reverse order for Australians on the list.

458. Brad McGee

It feels like not so long ago that McGee was striking fear into everyone when he got the chance to unleash his power on the flat time trials but the Aussie's last season in the ProTour was in fact 2008. His long career with FDJ saw him wear the leader's jersey in both the Tour de France and the Giro d'Italia, finishing the Giro in 8th overall that same year.

Now the Australian cycling team men's road coach, he finished sandwiched between the celebrated pair of Axel Merckx and Svein Tuft.

436. Amanda Spratt

'Spratty' is next up in the list, fitting in between Simon Spilak and Simon Pellaud. The Sydney-based climber has slowly built her career from her junior days to being a useful member of the team, to being regarded one of the best riders in the world. 

Three Tour Down Under wins to her name underline her quality in recent years, with her Giro Rosa rides in support of Annemiek van Vleuten, including two podium finishes in her own right a real standout for Spratt.

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An elated Amanda Spratt heaped praise on her teammates as well as newly-crowned world champion Anna van der Breggen on Saturday, after finishing second to the Dutch star at the UCI Road World Championships. Having secured the Australian womens team's third world road race silver medal in seven years, Spratt is already thinking about going one better at the 2020 Olympics.

395. Jack Haig

Haig is always ready with a smile and his likeable nature sees him well-placed on this list. An increasingly impressive climber with performances that could point towards him Australia's next big GC star, Haig's standing should only continue to climb alongside his growing palmares.

Haig finished sandwiched between Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio and Merhawi Kudus.

376. Mitch Docker

The moustachioed hard man is well-liked throughout the peloton, with his 'Life in the Peloton' podcast a big hit as well. A great domestique for a sprint, classic or flat race, Docker is good value on or off the bike.

Docker finished alongside Marcus Burghardt and Gorka Izagirre.

344. Sarah Gigante

The 20-year-old is already jumping into favourite rider of all-time lists and it's easy to see why she's doing so. An exceptional rider and talent with a infectious joy for life that ensures that she's attacked her cycling career to date with great passion. 

Her racing accomplishments are almost entirely within Australia at this point but that didn't stop Gigante ending up with some very good company, above even Amanda Spratt! Gigante finished in between Italian favourite Sonny Colbrelli and Spanish star Laudelino Cubino.

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340. Heinrich Haussler

The journeyman of Australian and German cycling, Haussler has been racing as a professional since 2005. He's had his highs and lows over that time, with his exceptional period coming in 2009 when he won six races, including a stage of the Tour de France. His second-placed finishes in Milan San Remo and the Tour of Flanders were part of the reason that Haussler was considered one of the best classic riders in the world at the time.

The Inverell local currently rides for Bahrain Victorious. Haussler finished between fellow classics rider Matti Breschel and Mexican Giro d'Italia star Julio Alberto Perez Cuapio.

325. Simon Gerrans

'The Sniper' was Gerrans' occasional nickname - 'Gerro' more popularly - for his ability to target races and win them. He was a rider who flourished later in his career, but at his peak he was a perennial contender for the Ardennes classic, world championships and stage victories at Grand Tours. 

Monument wins at Liege-Bastogne-Liege and Milan San Remo will go down alongside Gerrans' Tour de France stint in yellow as the triumphs of his career. His dominant performances in Australia for four Tour Down Under wins, two Herald Sun Tours and two national road race titles underline that ability.

Gerrans at the end of the 2018 season and last popped up in the news as a pathways coordinator for Australian continental team Inform TM Insight MAKE. The 40-year-old from Mansfield finished in between Daniele Bennati and Portuguese local legend Cândido Barbosa.

261. Adam Hansen

The Australian tough man will go down in the history books with his record of 20 consecutive Grand Tours completed as a test of endurance, luck and bloody-mindedness that will stand the test of time. He was very competitive in those races as well, winning stages of the Giro and the Vuelta, forming part of some formidable sprint trains in that time as well.

Hansen has now retired from professional cycling, but is taking up ironman competition and will maintain involvement in cycling with his work for the rider's body, the CPA. He also has his own shoe business 'Hanseeno'.

Hansen finished the vote between Tour of Flanders winner Stijn Devolder and Tour de France stage-winner Steve Cummings.

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245. Mark Renshaw

One of the best lead-out men in history? Few would rate much better than Renshaw after a storied partnership with Mark Cavendish that saw the British sprinter amass 13 stage wins where the pair rode with Renshaw as the final leadout man.

The Bathurst local is well-liked within Australia and the international peloton and it's little surprise to find his name well up the list. Renshaw finished with 12 UCI-classified wins on his career as well, winning between 2006 and 2014.

241. Stuart O'Grady

The first Aussie Paris-Roubaix winner, wore the yellow jersey at the Tour in two separate years, won gold in the men's madison with Graeme Brown in 2004, finished second in green jersey competition at the Tour de France on four occasions. He finished up with 17 completions of the Tour, a record. He has an Order of Australia medal.

He's also the only Australian cyclist present on the list who has confessed to doping during their career, admitting to a single instance ahead of the 1998 Tour de France.

O'Grady appeared on the list between Vasil Kiryienka and Domenico Pozzovivo.

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221. Phil Anderson

'Skippy' was a trailblazer in the sport, one of the best cyclists in the world when Australians weren't generally near the top of the sport. He finished in the top 10 of the Tour de France on six occasions and won two stages, won two stages of the Giro d'Italia as well as numerous classics including Amstel Gold, Paris-Tours and Zuri Metzgete.

He was a force throughout his career, winning from 1978 to 1993. The now 62-year-old last appeared in cycling media as part of an over 300-kilometre ride along old Melbourne to Warrnambool routes, raising funds for junior cycling in Victoria. 

Anderson finished between Oscar Sevilla and Dutch contemporary Steven Rooks.

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191. Jai Hindley

Jai Hindley was the Aussie revelation of the 2020 season, jumping from a well-respected youngster to a fully-fledged Grand Tour rider at his first serious GC attempt at a three-week race. Laid-back and will speak his mind when given the opportunity, he's a popular character within cycling circles, though arguably this ranking has more to do with his recent success.

The West Australian ended up slotted between controversial figure Denis Menchov and young Frenchman Benoit Cosnefroy.

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Jai Hindley (Team Sunweb) claimed the stage win after a dramatic stage 18 of the Giro d'Italia saw the general classification upended on the ascent of the legendary climb of the Stelvio.

189. Lachlan Morton

If a few riders mentioned might be up there based off recent results, Morton's candidacy is very much based on personality, Instagram presence, adventure-riding and his featuring in the 'Thereabouts' films. He's a great rider to follow, with an interesting personality and positive attitude towards the sport. It's been a while since his last UCI classified win, but his goals stretch beyond that and if you followed him last year, there were two attempts (one success) at the 'Everesting' record, with some truly epic gravel rides and adventure rides mixed in.

  

161. Mat Hayman

The 2016 Paris-Roubaix winner has long been a popular figure in Australian and international cycling circles. Well-regarded for his work ethic and team captain nous, he was nonetheless catapulted up the estimation of cycling fans with his win in the Roubaix velodrome ahead of Tom Boonen after an interrupted preparation due to injury. 

His honest personality and quintessential Australian nature go a long way as well to making him a bedrock of the Australian cycling scene. Hayman slotted in between Canadian climber Michael Woods and French darling David Moncoutie. 

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153. Michael Matthews

Michael Matthews is yet to claim that massive win in a monument or world championships, but his green jersey win at the Tour de France, eight victories in the Grand Tours and numerous Classic wins propel him up the board. Arguably his most entertaining trait is the verve he approaches his cycling with, and the intense approach that he brings to preparation and racing at the top level.

He wears his heart on his sleeve and races to the peak of his ability for the major targets of his season, you can't ask much more of a rider and that's reflected in his ranking here. Matthews ended up between David Millar and Guillaume Martin in the overall rankings. 

140. Rohan Dennis

The Australian time-trialling extraordinaire is a polarising figure within the sport, but that sort of passion is only really created around the greats of cycling. The two-time world championships time trial winner brings an at times cheeky, fresh attitude which led to a few arguments in the comments on social media and ill-advised posts at times. 

That's all part of the Dennis package though, and at the end of the day, aside from the distractions, he is one of the best cyclists in the world, who isn't just a cardboard cut-out saying all the pre-approved responses of a media-trained athlete. Dennis finished between Spanish stalwart Mikel Nieve and Liege-Bastogne-Liege winner Wout Poels.

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112. Caleb Ewan

'The Pocket Rocket' or 'King Caleb' seems to be forming as the rapid 26-year-old's nickname after a few seasons of dominant sprinting at the WorldTour level. Laid-back and chilled as you like off-the-bike, Ewan flips a switch when it comes to sprint finishes and he's a near certainty to be involved on a flat run to the line. 

What will be interesting will be where his legacy goes from here. He's already one of Australia's best of all-time, but whether in future he's mentioned in the same breath as McEwen, Cavendish, Greipel, Kelly, Zabel and Cipollini depends on how he can build on his impressive tally of victories to date. Ewan finished between popular Dutchman Laurens Ten Dam and the sadly-departed Michele Scarponi.  

80. Richie Porte

Long years of effort saw Porte achieve the marquee result of his career, a podium place at the Tour de France. The Australian Grand Tour hopeful put off years of almost performances, crashes, bad luck and illness to emerge with a result that will see him remembered with the best in the sport. 

His one-week stage race record is impressive as well, as are his performances as the super-domestique of the early Chris Froome years, with Australian fans to remember him as a reason to stay up into the wee hours of the morning in winter! Porte finished on the Favourite 500 rankings ahead of Portuguese sensation Joao Almeida and behind Edvald Boasson Hagen.

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Richie Porte joins Mike Tomalaris and Christophe Mallet to discuss the year that was, his podium finish at the Tour de France, Australian cycling and what we can expect from him at Team Ineos in 2021.

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66. Robbie McEwen 

A legendary figure within the sport, McEwen clearly suffered from a lack of Australian voters as he lags behind the likes of Kittel, Cippollini, Zabel, Freire, Cavendish and Kelly. Impossible to stop on his day, McEwen was renowned for creating his own opportunities in sprint finishes without the leadouts enjoyed by some of the riders mentioned earlier. 

Never short of an opinion or a good quote during his career either, McEwen has become a superb commentator in retirement and personality who commands respect on the international and Australian scene. McEwen finished ahead of Arnaud Demare and just behind Richard Virenque.

58. Cadel Evans

Australia's most popular cyclist is Cadel Evans! A general classification contender par excellence, the Northern Territory-born Evans built his career and reputation on a series of bids for overall glory at the Tour de France. Just when it appeared that his best opportunities may have passed him by, he emerged as one of the oldest Tour de France winners.

While names like Anderson blazed a trail for Australians at the big races and McEwen, O'Grady and McGee put the big races on the map, it was Evans who saw mainstream audiences across Australia glued to their TV screens as they watched one of the country's great sporting achievements. 

Of course, it wasn't just the Tour de France success, his world championships win in 2009 is still Australia's only elite road race success and multiple one-week Tour and classics success made watching Evans an all-year feast. Evans finished between Andre Greipel and Erik Zabel on the all-time list.  

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