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Geraint Thomas, the next british hope

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Re: Geraint Thomas, the next british hope

07 Aug 2018 18:41

So now you're moving the goalposts 'after' you've realised what you said was false?

It was a simple fact I stated. that pursuit riders (all are world pursuit champions in that list) also make great TT riders and that list proves it. Clearly most pursuit riders don't cross over to pro road careers and don't because the demands of the pursuit means that's not possible within an Olympic year/cycle. Even Wiggins never crossed over much, if at all in the same Olympic year, he was either road or track. Many never cross over, so we'll never know how good they might have been. However, most of those that did enter a pro road career either from pursuit or while still pursuit riders at the highest level, also competed at the very top level at TT and TTT on the road.

If being a world pursuit champion in that list 'didn't' translate to TT, there would be nobody in that list with TT results at the highest level, among established road riders and timetrial specialists who do it day in day out and is their entire career! One would assume there were at least a handful of decent-enough road riders to beat a 3 or 4km pursuit rider in a long road TT, but clearly not!
Last edited by samhocking on 07 Aug 2018 18:49, edited 1 time in total.
samhocking
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Re:

07 Aug 2018 18:48

PremierAndrew wrote:How many of those 30+ first timers in the top 10 were super talented and amongst the elite in a different specialisation of pro cycling before turning their attention to climbing/GC?

Not to mention Thomas would almost certainly have had his first top 10 at the Giro last year were it not for his crash, and this is before even considering his role as a domestique the whole time.

Of course Thomas is suspicious, but the way this is being spun by some posters here is ridiculous. His performance on PSM was way more surprising at the time than this Tour victory is now

There is actually a glaring factual inaccuracy in my analysis - while Thomas is the only one to have their first top 10 be a podium in the Tour, he isn't the only one to have their first top 10 be a GT win, as Rominger's 1992 Vuelta is his first top 10 too.

Also, there are very few riders who have already specialised and been among the elite in a different specialisation who have given that up to try to be a completely different type of rider, let alone succeeded, so it's hard to really see too many people that you could put a legit comparison to Geraint with. Jean-Christophe Péraud was a European champion and Olympic silver medallist in mountain bike before switching to the road at 32, but he didn't do any road racing at the top level before that, so his maiden top 10 is in fact in only his 2nd GT (similarly, Ezequiel Mosquera has never finished a GT outside of the top 10, and Michael Woods' maiden GT top 10 was only his second start), whereas Thomas was a veteran of 12 GTs before making his maiden top 10 with his Tour win (and even had he top 10ed the Giro last season that would still have been his 11th). Gadret is perhaps a better call, his first top 10 was his 9th GT, and he had two top 20s in the preceding season and an earlier top 20, relatively akin to Thomas who had two 15ths before his win; Gadret was a two-time national cyclocross champion and twice top 10 in the Cyclocross World Cup. Ryder Hesjedal is another possible comparison, having started off as a mountain biker, winning a silver medal in the XCO in 2003, but having 5 nondescript years between his conversion to the road and his discovery of GT skills in 2010.

I actually found more experienced stagers hitting their first GT top 10 than I anticipated, and the fact that so many of them are comparatively recent suggests that the profile of GT riders is getting older, but it's worth noting that 35/48 of those finished between 6th and 10th, so only 13 were top 5s (just over 25%), only 5 were podiums (just over 10%) and Rominger was as mentioned the only other one to win from the criteria listed. The late conversion for Thomas is indeed exacerbated by his crashing out and his domestique role, however the fact that he was there to domestique in the high mountains in 2015 was surprising enough given, while he'd shown some decent performances that suggested he was a better climber than most Northern Classics men (winning one of the few editions of the Bayern Rundfahrt that weren't "win the TT win the race", having a Winklmoosalm MTF), in 2015 he really steps up his climbing big-time, with major performances on Monchique, Croix de Chaubouret and, most surprisingly, the Rettenbachferner. But he's still a Classics man at 29 - he still wins E3 and podiums Gent-Wevelgem that year. It's not like he's transitioned through the Ardennes and Lombardia as you might expect from somebody moving from the Classics to becoming a stage racer in the mountains. He had been 22nd the previous year in the Tour admittedly, but that was the one time he wasn't really domestiquing, with Froome crashing out. And in that race he lost 15 minutes to Nibali across two Alpine stages and more than double that over the Pyrenees, so realistically we can say that he still had a lot further to go. The last 3 seasons he's more or less abandoned his Classics aims, but in 2015 he was becoming a guy who can finish 2nd in the Tour de Suisse at the same time as hitting the podium of Gent-Wevelgem.

But because of what you say about riders being at different stages in their career and having different specialisms, and the different starting points with potential late starters to their cycling career such as Peraud mentioned above, here's 30 years' worth of GT winners, and how many GTs it took them to register a top 20, a top 10, and a win, and I've asterisked those who were 30 or more when they won their first GT.

* Séan Kelly: 4 - 4 - 15
Andrew Hampsten: 1 - 2 - 4
Pedro Delgado: 2 - 4 - 5
Laurent Fignon: 1 - 2 - 3
Greg LeMond: 2 - 2 - 6
Marco Giovannetti: 1 - 2 - 8
Gianni Bugno: 5 - 7 - 7
Melcior Mauri: 6 - 6 - 6
* Franco Chioccioli: 2 - 4 - 10
Miguel Indurain: 10 - 12 - 14
* Tony Rominger: 8 - 8 - 8
Evgeni Berzin: 2 - 2 - 2
Laurent Jalabert: 9 - 9 - 10
Pavel Tonkov: 1 - 1 - 7
* Bjarne Riis: 11 - 11 - 16
Alex Zülle: 4 - 5 - 9
Ivan Gotti: 2 - 3 -6
Jan Ullrich: 2 - 2 - 3
Marco Pantani: 2 - 2 - 8
Abraham Olano: 3 - 4 - 10
Lance Armstrong: 5 - 5 - 6
Stefano Garzelli: 1 - 1 - 5
Roberto Heras: 1 - 1 - 6
Gilberto Simoni: 6 - 7 - 10
Ángel Casero: 1 - 7 - 12
Paolo Savoldelli: 2 - 3 - 11
Aitor González: 2 - 2 - 3
Damiano Cunego: 2 - 2 - 2
Ivan Basso: 4 - 5 - 9
(Floyd Landis: 4 - 6 - 8)
Óscar Pereiro: 1 - 4 - 7
Aleksandr Vinokourov: 2 - 6 - 9
* Danilo di Luca: 6 - 9 - 13
Alberto Contador: 2 - 2 - 2
Denis Menchov: 3 - 7 - 11 (7 depending on your position on the 2005 Vuelta)
* Carlos Sastre: 2 - 2 - 18
Alejandro Valverde: 2 - 2 - 10
Andy Schleck: 1 - 1 - 5
Vincenzo Nibali: 1 - 4 - 6
* Michele Scarponi: 1 - 9 - 10
* Cadel Evans: 1 - 3 - 12
* Juan José Cobo: 3 - 5 - 6
* Ryder Hesjedal: 7 - 7 - 9
* Bradley Wiggins: 6 - 6 - 11
Chris Froome: 4 - 4 - 7
* Chris Horner: 3 - 8 - 11
Nairo Quintana: 2 - 2 - 3
Fabio Aru: 2 - 2 -5
Tom Dumoulin: 5 - 5 - 8
* Geraint Thomas: 7 - 13 - 13

There are a couple of names that seem to fit with Thomas a bit more readily there; Indurain and Jalabert, notably. Jalabert doubly fits because of his excelling as a sprinter with two maillots vert and multiple GT stages, though he'd also top 10ed Liège and Lombardia and podiumed Paris-Nice back in 1991, and his 1995 self-reinvention came aged 26. Indurain was doing 2 GTs a year from the age of 20, so although the number of GTs looks huge, he was still only 26 when he started to hit podiums, and at the age at which Thomas hit the top step of the podium last month, Miguelón had already withdrawn from his last race. Riis doesn't have the background of being hugely successful in a different format of racing, which impedes his usefulness as a comparison though obviously his self-reinvention at 29 does invite parallels. Di Luca and Armstrong were both strong in hilly classics before reinventing themselves as GT riders, but Armstrong has the medical interlude and di Luca already had Oil For Drugs in his back pocket before he became a GT winner, and every time he actually finished a GT he was in the top 25 to that point. Lots of crashes and planned withdrawals though. Scarponi was not dissimilar with plenty of hilly classic results, but four top 20s in his first 6 GTs. Sastre and Evans both had a huge number of top 10s and podiums before finally managing to make it to the top step so though they didn't score a maiden victory until well into their 30s, they were both staples of the GT leaderboards so not comparable at all to Thomas (Sastre had 9 top 10s including 3 podiums before finally winning the Tour, Evans had 7 including 3 podiums of his own likewise). Quite a few of the most similar riders to Thomas don't enter as many GTs before their breakouts (Wiggins most notably) as Thomas has, which is a slight problem for the data as while it may account for late converts to the sport, it doesn't account for injuries and team policies (Chioccioli for example only did the Giro for a whole decade, while Indurain was doing two GTs a year from age 20 onward) as well as normalizing riders who have long gaps in their palmarès due to not doing GTs like Cobo and pre-2011 Froome, whose level in 2010 meant neither were selected for several consecutive such races, while Horner's paltry number of GTs due to his very late return to Europe in his mid-30s makes parsing his numbers for any meaningful conclusions very tricky indeed.

Of the four riders who took more GTs to get to a win than Thomas, however - Séan Kelly had 6 earlier top 10s (as well as withdrawing from the Vuelta while leading a year earlier), Carlos Sastre had been racking up top 10s for almost an entire decade, Miguel Indurain was six years younger than Thomas at the point he made it to the top step and retired by Thomas' age which limits his usefulness in a discussion of late bloomers, and Bjarne Riis is Bjarne Riis (and doesn't have the previous successes in other fields that Thomas has to point to).
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07 Aug 2018 18:54

Isn't it rather meaningless, unless you know what Tours they had leadership in? i.e. Thomas won on his second attempt as a leader, same as Contador did for example?
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07 Aug 2018 19:07

Yes, it's perfectly normal in a 6-year period for dom's to jump out and win the TDF after the leader is somewhat off. 2 times(almost 3) - On the same most transparent team ever!! - and all "brits" of course.
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07 Aug 2018 19:08

The entire history of cycling isn't an accurate representation of a riders natural ability. If you think it is, and you think Thomas is doping like them too, then Thomas belongs there as much as anyone else does.
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07 Aug 2018 19:15

So what your saying is he is doping and it all good because others are doping to. Then why the 1000 posts trying to explain he had pedigree for it?
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Re:

07 Aug 2018 19:18

samhocking wrote:Isn't it rather meaningless, unless you know what Tours they had leadership in? i.e. Thomas won on his second attempt as a leader, same as Contador did for example?


uh, no, not the same as Contador.
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07 Aug 2018 19:22

And of course, it does beg the question why Geraint 1.0 could not even trouble the top-10 or even show signs that he could trouble the top-10 when apparently he had all the tools for it.
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Re:

07 Aug 2018 19:24

samhocking wrote:Isn't it rather meaningless, unless you know what Tours they had leadership in? i.e. Thomas won on his second attempt as a leader, same as Contador did for example?


I'm pretty certain someone brought to your attention the glaring difference in age between the two at the time of their initial Tour wins.

Edit: Also Contador went into that tour as option "X". Leipheimer was the designated leader if I recall correctly. Discovery wasn't certain as to whether Contador could lead the team at that juncture but they didn't want to waste him riding in support and gave him free reign to ride his own race. At least that is how I recall it.
Last edited by Angliru on 07 Aug 2018 19:32, edited 2 times in total.
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07 Aug 2018 19:25

I'm not saying it's all good, but that isn't what we're talking about. We're talking about a riders performance we assume is due to doping, using the doped performances of others we now know were probably doping to explain it. Any analysis and comparison with the past results is so distorted beyond all logical explanation anyway to try and gain meaning from those cheated performances is like working out who is the best WWF wrestler.
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07 Aug 2018 19:28

Then why the comparisons you just performed above?
You can't have it both ways.
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Re: Re:

07 Aug 2018 19:30

Angliru wrote:
samhocking wrote:Isn't it rather meaningless, unless you know what Tours they had leadership in? i.e. Thomas won on his second attempt as a leader, same as Contador did for example?


I'm pretty certain someone brought to your attention the glaring difference in age between the two at the time of their initial Tour wins.


And as I said, Thomas won his first Tour on his second attempt when he had leadership responsibility.

Even on his first attempt in 2016, did you know when he had his bad day, rather than maintain his place on GC, he decided to ease up in order to save his legs to help Froome win the next day.
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Re:

07 Aug 2018 19:35

mrhender wrote:Then why the comparisons you just performed above?
You can't have it both ways.


I am viewing Thomas as a doper in order to maintain my point, what's so complicated. If you're comparing Thomas the doper, to rider x in the past who was a doper, then any 'believable rider' is rather pointless. As Armstrong said, without doping for the Worlds he would never have won it and today if that race was ridden today, he said he wouldn't stand a chance as that level of cheating isn't possible today to make the difference anymore, so looking at riders palamares doping from the moment they entered the peloton and winning at a young age is pointless as Armstrong's Worlds proved. ie none of it is based on natural ability in reality, it's based on doping, even in their 20's.
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Re: Re:

07 Aug 2018 19:39

samhocking wrote:
Angliru wrote:
samhocking wrote:Isn't it rather meaningless, unless you know what Tours they had leadership in? i.e. Thomas won on his second attempt as a leader, same as Contador did for example?


I'm pretty certain someone brought to your attention the glaring difference in age between the two at the time of their initial Tour wins.


And as I said, Thomas won his first Tour on his second attempt when he had leadership responsibility.

Even on his first attempt in 2016, did you know when he had his bad day, rather than maintain his place on GC, he decided to ease up in order to save his legs to help Froome win the next day.


I believe the primary question is if he had all of this latent talent for grand tour success, riding for a large portion of his career for a team that is so far advanced in every area (or that is what they and their fans tell us), how is it possible that he wasn't presented with more opportunities to succeed and bring further glory to his team, or why didn't this obvious talent not stand out from the rest of his teammates who were given multiple opportunities at grand tours? You're talking 11 years and 9 years before he even reached the podium of major week long stage race.
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07 Aug 2018 19:49

Well, he's not doing it all at the same time is he. When he did Track he was the best at it, when he did classics he was one of the best at that, then he switched to week long stage races and was very good at that, now he's switched to Grand Tours with leadership responsibility and he won that.
I think the obvious point being, that many Grand Tour riders, with focused training over a year or two could be World Pursuit Champions. Many could probably be pretty good classics riders too, but the top of the tree is the Grand Tours. If you're already there, like Contador, Indurain or Armstrong from a young age via doping, why would give it all up to ride a World Pursuit final and only get a bag of peanuts as your salary?
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Re:

07 Aug 2018 19:56

samhocking wrote:Well, he's not doing it all at the same time is he. When he did Track he was the best at it, when he did classics he was one of the best at that, then he switched to week long stage races and was very good at that, now he's switched to Grand Tours with leadership responsibility and he won that.
I think the obvious point being, that many Grand Tour riders, with focused training over a year or two could be World Pursuit Champions. Many could probably be pretty good classics riders too, but the top of the tree is the Grand Tours. If you're already there, like Contador, Indurain or Armstrong from a young age via doping, why would give it all up to ride a World Pursuit final and only get a bag of peanuts as your salary?


...and wouldn't that also apply to Thomas? If the science is so clear to some, why is it that he passed up the potential riches, fame and fortune that would've been available to him had he immediately pursued grand tour success earlier in his career, instead of the cobbled classics and basic domestique duties in stage races?
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07 Aug 2018 20:05

Before Wiggins and Sky I'm not sure anyone had even tried had they? Even Wiggins said he didn't think it was possible until 2009 at Garmin. Thomas probably thought the same until 2012. It doesn't matter if it was doping or not. The point is if a doped donkey is capable of a palamares like that, then what have all the doped racehorses been doing so wrong?
I simply think the peloton is largely cleaner, to the extent natural ability in pure endurance is capable of shining. When doping was with impunity, I'm not sure that was the case. I think a lot of it was simply continuation of distortion of natural ability due to doping for a riders entire career and not confident in using that history to really explain anything today with accuracy
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Re: Re:

07 Aug 2018 20:15

samhocking wrote:
mrhender wrote:Then why the comparisons you just performed above?
You can't have it both ways.


I am viewing Thomas as a doper in order to maintain my point, what's so complicated. If you're comparing Thomas the doper, to rider x in the past who was a doper, then any 'believable rider' is rather pointless. As Armstrong said, without doping for the Worlds he would never have won it and today if that race was ridden today, he said he wouldn't stand a chance as that level of cheating isn't possible today to make the difference anymore, so looking at riders palamares doping from the moment they entered the peloton and winning at a young age is pointless as Armstrong's Worlds proved. ie none of it is based on natural ability in reality, it's based on doping, even in their 20's.

(Sorry for the off topic)

Just curious, when did Armstrong admit that he doped for his Worlds win? Do you have a source for this please?

After he confessed everything I've only ever heard him maintain that he was completely clean for his Worlds win and that was proof of how naturally talented he really was. Never believed him of course, just curious as to when he admitted it.
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Re: Geraint Thomas, the next british hope

07 Aug 2018 20:56

samhocking wrote:So now you're moving the goalposts 'after' you've realised what you said was false?

It was a simple fact I stated. that pursuit riders (all are world pursuit champions in that list) also make great TT riders and that list proves it. Clearly most pursuit riders don't cross over to pro road careers and don't because the demands of the pursuit means that's not possible within an Olympic year/cycle. Even Wiggins never crossed over much, if at all in the same Olympic year, he was either road or track. Many never cross over, so we'll never know how good they might have been. However, most of those that did enter a pro road career either from pursuit or while still pursuit riders at the highest level, also competed at the very top level at TT and TTT on the road.

If being a world pursuit champion in that list 'didn't' translate to TT, there would be nobody in that list with TT results at the highest level, among established road riders and timetrial specialists who do it day in day out and is their entire career! One would assume there were at least a handful of decent-enough road riders to beat a 3 or 4km pursuit rider in a long road TT, but clearly not!


I think the only person moving goalposts is you. Maybe go back and read what you said about pursuit riders making great ITT riders. Then you include Stuart O'Grady and Luke Roberts because they were on winning teams. Yet neither were super ITT riders. How is that for moving the goalposts.

Considering this is a thread discussing a Tour de France winner, I am pretty sure the question was about what male pursuit riders have made the switch to being top pro winning TT riders. In your desperation to come up with names, you widened the criteria as much as you could just to name a few people. With all due respect to Womens cycling, it did not/does not have the depth of mens cycling so frequently a talented female could dominate all facets of the sport, especially in the era of Longo and Van Morseel, which was nowhere near the level of current ladies cycling in terms of depth or professionalism.

The highest level at TT is World Senior Championships or winning TTs at GTs or even ProTour level. How many on your list have won or even medaled at World Senior Championships or won TTs at Grand Tours. I don't think anyone doubts that the TT will be the strongest road area for pursuit riders, it has always been that way, which is why the sudden change to mountain climbers is so out of sync. But your efforts at misrepresentation are pretty transparent.
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Re:

07 Aug 2018 22:02

samhocking wrote: the top of the tree is the Grand Tours. If you're already there, like Contador, Indurain or Armstrong from a young age via doping, why would give it all up to ride a World Pursuit final and only get a bag of peanuts as your salary?

So let me get this straight... you're arguing:

A) The pursuit is as good an indicator as any of the power output and climbing talent necessary to win GTs.

B) GTs are top of the tree, and any rider with the talent to win them should try to do so because pursuits only pay a bag of peanuts.

Why then has no-one gone from doing pursuits to contending GTs in the last 60 years, apart from our two British boys?
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