Alfredo Binda, Italian, 1902 - 1986
Alfredo Binda won the World Road Race Championship in 1927, 1930 and 1932. He also won the Giro (five times) and numerous Classics.
Although he was both a excellent climber and an expert time triallist, his really outstanding attributes were his maturity and calculated thoughtfulness. He never wasted effort on spectacular attacks or on frivolously entertaining the crowd (God forbid!), he devoted everything he had to the single task of winning bicycle races. Because of this he never really won the hearts of the fanatical Italian cycling fans - at least until his win in the 1932 Worlds in Rome.
At the time that he retired from racing he was the most successful racing cyclist that the world had ever seen.
In my mind he is inextricably linked with Binda Extra toe straps - the most successful toestraps that the world has ever seen (and probably will ever see). Thick and luxurious, the leather was laminated with a magic layer that never stretched and the buckles stayed shiny for ever. If you have never used toeclips with Binda Extra toestraps your life is a pale and poorly thing.
I think that Alfredo Binda won the Worlds in 1927 and 1930 riding fixed, but used a Vittoria Margherita derailleur in his epic victory in 1932.
This magnificent photo was taken at the Velodrome D'Hiver in Paris in 1926. It features Alfredo, a large bunch of flowers and two other men, one wearing a fetchingly-patterned dressing gown, the other wearing a hat that is the wrong size. It is one of two photos of him on this site, the other is here.
(Source gallica.bnf.fr/ Bibliothèque nationale de France)