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Geraint Thomas, the next british hope

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Re:

14 Jul 2019 06:01

hrotha wrote:I think it's very convenient to choose "wins a GT at 22" as the key to this discussion, when what's relevant to Froome, Wiggins and Thomas, and which hasn't changed since the 80s, is "talent shows early". Sure, only a few chosen people win GTs at 22-23, but many GT contenders these days start getting great placings around that age.

Absolutely. Even in the last five years there's a bunch of guys that have showed GT-winning pedigree or potential at a very young age. Quintana was very young when he won the Giro and Bardet, Pinot, Lopez, Aru and Mas all podiumed a Grand Tour at less than 25 years of age. Common for all of those guys are that, even at the age of around 20-22 they were regularly producing results that were better than anything Froome ever did on a bike before the 2011 Vuelta.

"Talent shows early" is one of those things that will always be true in endurance sports. Random 30-year-olds appearing out of thin air and suddenly winning hard races after a long and mediocre cycling career is as close to a positive doping test as you can possibly get without having an actual positive test, and the history books back up that statement. Riis, Chiappucci, Berzin, Armstrong, Rominger, Jaskula, Rumsas... All absolute jokes. Throw Wiggins, Froome and Thomas on to the top of the pile.

That's not to say that a young rider dominating is definitely clean. Of course they could still be doping, but they at least get the benefit of the doubt. So do guys like Michael Woods, who switched from running to cycling in his twenties. Old dudes suddenly discovering a hidden extra gear or two is a completely different story.
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Re:

14 Jul 2019 11:27

hrotha wrote:I think it's very convenient to choose "wins a GT at 22" as the key to this discussion, when what's relevant to Froome, Wiggins and Thomas, and which hasn't changed since the 80s, is "talent shows early". Sure, only a few chosen people win GTs at 22-23, but many GT contenders these days start getting great placings around that age.


Excellent post.

Quintana was 23 when placing 2nd in the 2013 Tour.

But I also don't see Thomas' transformation as being on the same level of Froome's, even though his Tour success came much later.
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14 Jul 2019 11:31

At 22-23 Thomas was winning Gold medals in the Olympics and World Championships....on the track.
That was his focus. Ditto Wiggins.

It's a bit dim to talk about their road race palmares at aged 22 when that is not what they had been doing.

Did talent show early? A rack of gold medals at the highest level says yes. They rose to the absolute pinnacle of what they were doing.

Is anybody claiming that they are on the level of a Contador, a Merckx, or even a Nibali? No. Wiggins had one great year with a TdF course that suited him (and a stack of kenacort) Thomas had a year with key competitors not present in the form they perhaps could have been and the strongest GT team to support him.

Neither of these are 5 time tour winners, are they.
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14 Jul 2019 18:40

"Talent shows early" certainly applied to Lance. He was killing it in triathlons as a teenager and won the WC RR when he was what, 22, 23?

I really don't think you can read anything into early success vs. late success. Especially in the US there's a lot of riders who switch to road cycling from other endurance sports. Cycling has always been a sport where there's been big winners at 22 as well as 35.
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14 Jul 2019 18:58

Using their track focus as an 'out' only covers half of it though, because as has been discussed ad infinitum, the kind of transferable skills from track tend to lead to riders who are more focused on sprinting and time trialling, and this reflects in the majority of cases in the type of road racers track riders become. The track riders who do have transferable climbing skills also tend to show it early - for example Peter Kennaugh was also part of the track team and he'd shown more climbing nous by 22 than Wiggins had by 28 - evidenced in his showing at the Girobio in 2009 and his podium in the Route du Sud in 2011.
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14 Jul 2019 21:50

It accounts entirely for the lack of GT success at age 22. Which is why a comparison with pure road cyclists at that age is pointless.

It wouldn't be surprising that cyclists swapping between disciplines may broadly stick with the training that worked for them previously, and therefore no surprise that a pursuiter like Wiggins would focus, initially, on TT. It's pretty clear though, that he trained his climbing pretty ferociously from '08, and that different teams will have pushed and helped him in certain directions.

That isnt to discount all the stuff that we know went on at Sky with regards to fat-stripping with steroids, and the likelihood that the steroids were not the sole pharmaceutical aid, but I reject the notion that other skills cannot be trained, or that a cyclist's trajectory is set in stone. We can see it now in front of our eyes with the possibility of Alaphilippe being a future GC rider.

Thomas? Well, he's been lucky...his biggest rival rides for the same team, and last year turned up knackered, and this year hasn't turned up at all. Other rivals rode the Giro because they assumed Froome would focus on the Tour. Lucky old Geraint, he is no Froome, but he's got Froome's luxury Tour team riding for him currently.
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Re: Re:

15 Jul 2019 01:47

macbindle wrote:
The Hegelian wrote:Say what you will, that Thomas is the best climber in the world '18-'19 is just impossible for me to believe.

It's in the same category as Jalabert and Armstrong. Just*impossible*to*believe.


Statements like that deserve careful attention because it sounds like a possible strawman. What are your criteria for judging the 'best climber in the world' and what has Thomas done to fulfil these?

Judging by Thursday's TdF stage, Alaphilippe is the best climber in the world, which, of course, is impossible to believe ;)


How is that a strawman? The best climbers come to the tour at 100%, and the best one wins. That's 2018 covered.

This year there has been one summit finish. Thomas was clearly the strongest climber. May not stay that way, but thus far.....
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15 Jul 2019 05:08

The best climber doesn't necessarily win. The most consistent finisher wins. Best climbers can be poor time-triallists
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Re: Re:

15 Jul 2019 09:11

The Hegelian wrote:
macbindle wrote:
The Hegelian wrote:Say what you will, that Thomas is the best climber in the world '18-'19 is just impossible for me to believe.

It's in the same category as Jalabert and Armstrong. Just*impossible*to*believe.


Statements like that deserve careful attention because it sounds like a possible strawman. What are your criteria for judging the 'best climber in the world' and what has Thomas done to fulfil these?

Judging by Thursday's TdF stage, Alaphilippe is the best climber in the world, which, of course, is impossible to believe ;)


How is that a strawman? The best climbers come to the tour at 100%, and the best one wins. That's 2018 covered.

This year there has been one summit finish. Thomas was clearly the strongest climber. May not stay that way, but thus far.....


"Best climber" is always going to be subjective unless you can come up with a Mont Ventoux ITT. Thomas might not win that one against Bernal or even Landa/Lopez.

Climbing in GTs has so much to do with how you save and manage energy, how your team performs etc.

Based on results, it's not a stretch to say that Thomas is indeed the best climber in the world right now. He was clearly the best in the mountains in the TdF last year. I haven't seen any dropoff yet, based on one stage...
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15 Jul 2019 09:26

Although, as you say, you have to factor in the difference between Thomas's team and those of his rivals.

I watched last year's tour with only one eye open so somebody who paid more attention will be able to inform, but on key climbs how many team riders did Thomas have with him and for how long compared to rivals? It's worth also pointing out that Thomas had Froome as a domestique to some extent, and Froome is arguably one of the best climbers.

Again, Thomas was very lucky last year, and this, in terms of rivals. Under 'normal' circumstances with everybody turning up in shape and not knackered from Il Giro he wouldn't be winning.
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15 Jul 2019 09:44

Thomas was only lucky with Froome's doping problems and him riding the Giro last year. And he is only lucky with Froome's crash this year.

You're making it sound like Sky was extremely lucky in the last 2 years, while they are winning because they are the strongest, not because of luck. Roglic and Nibali were behind Thomas in last years Tour before Nibali's crash and Roglic finished a good 3+ minutes behind Thomas. Landa finished minutes behind Thomas last year, and the list can go on. The reality is that Thomas was the strongest in the Tour last year.
I think it's the sign of a clean rider and a real sportsman to be attracted to the bigger challenge over the ultimate result. Good luck with the Giro/Tour double, Chris Froome. -Phil Gaimon
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Re:

15 Jul 2019 10:00

Forever The Best wrote:Thomas was only lucky with Froome's doping problems and him riding the Giro last year. And he is only lucky with Froome's crash this year.


That's a lot of luck ;)

The reality is that Thomas was the strongest in the Tour last year.


Really? No sh*t.

He won. Of course he was the strongest.
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15 Jul 2019 11:44

After enough instances the idea of "luck" seems less plausible. I mean, LA won (er, finished first in...) 7 TdFs and managed to avoid crashing out, illness, even testing positive. That's not luck, it's preparation and attentiveness. Froome crashed b/c he was trying to blow his nose doing 60 km/h in a paceline. And Froome's AAF could have been prevented with better ... medical management...

Anyway, what I'm trying to say is that luck is highly overrated. You still have to be in a position to take advantage.
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15 Jul 2019 11:53

I take your general point, but....from Thomas's perspective only it was luck....unless of course you think Froome's absence was part of a deliberate plan (and the absence of Dumoulin etc)
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15 Jul 2019 16:46

Thomas was creaming everyone on every single MTF last year. He was comfortably the best climber in the race. Absolutely pointless to even try to argue the contrary. The results speak for themselves.
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15 Jul 2019 17:57

It's a team sport ;)

Ineos ride in strength and their dominance is majorly attributed to high tempo riding in the mountains which deter rival attacks. The high tempo ensures attrition of weaker teams, leaving their captains to fight it out alone towards the end of a stage.

This tactic would not have been possible if Ineos didn't have at least 3-4 riders capable of putting long stints of pace setting. For example, consider the position of Froome this year, who cracked at crucial times during the race. If one takes out Bernal and Kwiatkowski from Ineos, who then paces Froome back in a podium position? So any rider wishing to win the Tour and end Ineos's dominance will need to have an equally strong team around him.
Last edited by macbindle on 15 Jul 2019 21:05, edited 1 time in total.
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Re:

15 Jul 2019 19:17

macbindle wrote:It's a team sport ;)

Sky ride in strength and their dominance is majorly attributed to high tempo riding in the mountains which deter rival attacks. The high tempo ensures attrition of weaker teams, leaving their captains to fight it out alone towards the end of a stage.

This tactic would not have been possible if Sky didn't have at least 3-4 riders capable of putting long stints of pace setting. For example, consider the position of Froome this year, who cracked at crucial times during the race. If one takes out Bernal and Kwiatkowski from Sky, who then paces Froome back in a podium position? So any rider wishing to win the Tour and end Sky's dominance will need to have an equally strong team around him.

And then we're back to the financial problem. Because you need to be able to finance a strong enough leader to beat Ineos' leader (of which there are markedly few, if any) AND at least 3-4 riders who are strong enough to lead other teams but who are willing to subordinate their goals to domestique. And with the knowledge that your best and most successful tactic also plays into Ineos' hands because they intend to ride high tempo as their main tactic anyway. And even if you CAN finance that (which is unlikely), and can offer those riders more than Ineos can wave under their noses, you've still got to fight for that controlling position at the head of the péloton with Ineos anyway.

Which also leads to more tempo riding and attritional mountain stages, just with fewer teams involved and fewer riders with the freedom to try things, and even less chance of succeeding seeing as not one but at least two super-strong teams would be chasing them down. Sounds terrible for the spectacle.
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15 Jul 2019 19:27

It makes for a predictable outcome and a pretty boring race, unless of course one is an Ineos fan.
It's a bit like the days of Ferguson's Man United. Similar kind of supporter too.
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Re: Geraint Thomas, the next british hope

15 Jul 2019 21:04

whilst 'G' is no Froome...his 'transformation' raises different but similiarly themed issues..

the fact that we are discussing him as one of the 'best climbers' in the world throws into stark contrast what he started out doing (junior roubaix winner)

look who he beat at the E3 in 2015.....

2nd - Stybar
3rd - Trentin
4th - Kristoff
5th - Vanmarke

so...get back to me when quintana and bernal rip up a flat, windy belgian classic :D :lol: :D

or, indeed, when one of the aforementioned 'big guys' starts winning GTs :D

Sean Kelly...eat your heart out...'G' is the real deal
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15 Jul 2019 21:13

Nothing in the known universe can be compared to Froome's change of fortune in pro cycling ;)
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