With his 1968 victory at the Vuelta, only three years after becoming a professional cyclist, Felice "the Phoenix" Gimondi had won all three Grand Tours of road cycling:
Gimondi grew up cycling with his father, a postal carrier who rode a bicycle to make his deliveries. After winning the amateur version of the Tour de France (Tour de l'Avenir), he was signed, in 1965, as a professional to the Salvarani team. With the withdrawl of another cyclist from Salvarani's Tour de France team, Gimondi was added at the last minute and went on to win the tour, becoming an Italian national hero.
In 1966, he won both Paris-Roubaix and the Tour of Lombardy. Gimondi also won the World Cycling Championships in 1973, after placing second in 1971 and third in 1970.
In the Giro d'Italia, Gimondi holds the record for the most podium finishes: nine total, consisting of three first place wins, two second place finishes and four third place finishes.