Inga Thompson was a collegiate runner who decided to try cycling after learning that the 1984 Tour de France would include a women’s race. She won the first five competitions that she entered and snagged a spot on the 1984 Olympic Team mere months after transitioning her focus to cycling. Inga went on to compete in the 1988 and 1992 Olympics, the 1986 and 1989 Tour de France, collected ten national championship titles and finished second in three world championships on her way to making cycling history.
After winning the 1993 U.S. National Championship road race in a dominating fashion, Inga abruptly left the sport and retreated to her ranch in eastern Oregon. She stayed out of the cycling conversation for years before contributing an op-ed for VeloNews in 2012. In the past year, Inga has established the Inga Thompson Foundation with the mission of providing developmental support for promising female riders. “I don’t understand why our federation is not fighting for a basic minimum wage,” she stated as she expressed her frustration with both past and current leadership in USA Cycling.
Today Inga keeps a collection of fourteen bicycles from her storied career. They were all custom built for her and she still enjoys riding each and every one of them in the picturesque mountains around her ranch. Red Truck is proud to bring the following six bicycles from Inga’s biggest races to the Colorado Classic in Denver August 15 – 19. The bikes will be featured at the press conference Wednesday evening at the Bierstadt Lagerhaus from 2:00 pm to 3:15 pm, and then displayed during at the interactive bike expo on Saturday and Sunday.
Levi/Raleigh – 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles
Inga served as the domestique for fellow Americans Connie Carpenter and Rebecca Twig, who earned the gold and silver medals respectively. Inga recalls her focus being on riding hard and protecting her teammates but she was also overwhelmed to be riding alongside her own heroes.
Huffy – 1988 Olympics in Seoul – Custom made by Ben Serrota
This was the third Huffy frame that Inga used in 1988 and she describes it as being “delicate but with great tubing.” Inga was the only rider to successfully break away from the pack in Seoul but she was caught one kilometer from the finish and placed 8th as the top American. The bike remains one of her all-time favorites as it also carried her to victory at the 1988 Coors Classic.
Eddy Merckx – 1989 Tour de France
“The chrome on this bike had to add five pounds to its weight,” Inga explains with a laugh. Accomplishing her original goal of riding in the Tour, Inga finished third overall in both the 1986 and 1989 Tour de France (formerly known as the Tour Cycliste Féminin). She describes the event as “one of the best-organized races” she ever experienced.
Roland Della Santa – Ore Ida Women’s Challenge
One victory that truly set Inga apart was winning the 1990 Ore-Ida Women’s Challenge. With seventeen days of competition, it is still the longest women’s stage-race to ever be contested. She won the Overall GC and six stages.
Time Trial Monocoque Bike
Inga achieved the National 40km record and unofficial world record on this TT bike. It was an extremely unique machine that was also featured in Playboy as one of the Top Ten Gifts of the Year. Inga describes its handling as “squirrelly and terrible.”
Eddie Merckx – World Championships
Inga rode this bike to a second place finish at the 1990 World Championship in Stuttgart, Germany.