Best/worst Grand Tours of the 21st century

Jun 4, 2019
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So I've been wondering for a while now about my favorite GT and that's why I decided to make a thread and discuss it with you guys. Which ones you loved the most, and which the least? I think this is going to make for an interesting discussion, even though I am pretty sure this thread has been done before, during those times we need something to talk about so why not

I started following cycling in 2008 so I will be judging only from that onwards

WORST:

-TDF 09,12. 15. 09 and 15 had terrible routes, in 12 nothing happened, Wiggo just won 2 bigass ITT's, had Froome&co to control everything and the result was a boring tour, from which I only remember Pinot & Rolland winning. 15 had like 10 kms of ITT and the winner was known as soon as he crossed the line at Saint Martin.

I will add Giro&Vuelta 09, and that's also mostly because route designs for those made them boring. 2009 was just not good in general. Aside of that? Idk, I found TDF17 to be very boring, but not like the worst of the worst. Giro 12, Vuelta 11&14, but none of them were terrible or anything. Still, those are my picks.

BEST:

Tour 10,11,13, 19. 2010-11 are no brainers, no need to explain those really. Man, 2013 TDF had one of the best route designs since I started following cycling. And just the whole aura around it being the 100th edition, every major star other than Nibali being there, everything made this feel so special, something a lot of Tours lacked recently. I consider 19 to be the best of the most recent ones, even with the sad ending for France, and the big fiasco with stage 19.

Giro 10 is definitely a top3 for me, just an incredible race. 15. 16. 18 were also fantastic, I don't think those are hot takes.

Vuelta? I mean, 15 and 16 are memorable, so is Horner's win, but yeah, that's a different topic. 15 and 16 are what I'd call great races, but a lot of Vueltas are just solid, neither bad but also not really top tier stuff as well.

All in all, my top5 would be:

  1. Giro 2010
  2. Giro 2018
  3. Tour 2010
 
I started watching in 2003, but the first several years only had access to the watching the Tour. Outside of the Tour most access for the GTs has been internet feeds.

Worst: most Tours, but 2011 is probably my least favorite with 12 not far behind.

Best: Vuelta 12, 09 For me the 2012 Vuelta was one of the most entertaining and fun races to watch with the battle between Contador, Valverde, and Rodriguez. For the Tour I'll put the 2010 Tour here because it was a very good one.

Haven't seen enough Giro's.
 
The worst Tour I have seen is probably 2005, 2012 or 2017.

The worst Giro is probably 2012, but I also found 2019 to be very lacklustre but that may have been because the last many editions had all been awesome.

The worst Vuelta must be 2013.

The best Tour was 2019, ahead of 2003 and 2011 (I know, LS, I know).

All the Giri from 2015 to 2018 were amazing rides but I think I have to give 2018 the edge. 2010 was not too shabby, either.

The best Vuelta was 2012 but the last many editions have been solid and had their interesting stories. I think the last week of the 2019 race was one of the best Grand Tour weeks I can remember (probably along with the last week of the 2015 Giro and 2011 Tour).
 
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Best: 2016 Giro, 2010 Giro, 2011 Giro

Worst: 2012 Tour, 2018 Tour, 2016 Tour

Edit to add... I can't remember details many of the pre-2010 GTs. Outside of 2003, I vaguely remember most of Armstrong's Tours as bad. 2009 Tour was bad, 2008 Vuelta was bad as well.
 
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Best: 2016 Giro, 2010 Giro, 2011 Giro

Worst: 2012 Tour, 2018 Tour, 2016 Tour

Edit to add... I can't remember details many of the pre-2010 GTs. Outside of 2003, I vaguely remember most of Armstrong's Tours as bad. 2009 Tour was bad, 2008 Vuelta was bad as well.
:D So the Giro it is for you. Are you still watching the Tour or have you given up?
But I think I can relate.
 
Reactions: Kaptain Kool
Worst: most Tours, but 2011 is probably my least favorite with 12 not far behind.
Out of interest, why do you think 2011 the worst? Because Valverde didn't ride and you don't like Cadel? 2011 was a bit slow until week three but the 3rd week was awesome with Andy, Contador and Evans showing huge strength and courage. Of course there was also Tommy V if you were French and liked an underdog. 2012 TdF was far more boring than 2011 and I don't think this is just my nationalistic bias.
 
Out of interest, why do you think 2011 the worst? Because Valverde didn't ride and you don't like Cadel? 2011 was a bit slow until week three but the 3rd week was awesome with Andy, Contador and Evans showing huge strength and courage. Of course there was also Tommy V if you were French and liked an underdog. 2012 TdF was far more boring than 2011 and I don't think this is just my nationalistic bias.
Has nothing to do with Valverde. I rank the 2010 Tour high and he didn't race it either. I found 2011 to be overall boring. It was either 2011 or 2012 that had a stage marred by tacts having been thrown on the road and a few riders got flats due to that. My memory is saying it was 2011. I was never a fan of Tommy V. Now if I'm wrong on the tacts and that was 2012 instead of 2011 then I'd switch the two.
 
2011 Tour was a good Dauphiné, but a garbage Grand Tour. Most overrated GT of the millennium for sure.

The tacks were 2012 in the Pyrenées (Mur de Peguère stage I believe). The Pyrenées in the 2011 sucked because nobody wanted to race them and we entered week 3 with everybody bar Voeckler and Evans on their TTT times. It is the perfect example of Marc Anthony's speech in Julius Caesar - getting to speak last means more people remember what you have to say. Because the end of the race was good, people remember it like it was some special GT, but for two weeks the sum total of the action not caused by crashes was Cuddles gaining a thimbleful of seconds on Mûr-de-Brétagne. The only thing saving it from 2012 Giro level ignominy is that the riders woke up from their stupor. 2011 Tour is not the worst GT of the millennium - and not especially close either - but it is also a really, really long way from being the best and is by far the most overrated.

Best: 2010 Giro
Worst: 2009 Tour
 
21st century only...? ;-)

okay.

worst TDF: 2010 (with a shout out to 2014)
worst Giro: 2016
worst Vuelta: 2012

best TDF: 2011
best Giro: 2017 (with a shout out to 2012)
best Vuelta: 2015

overall best: Giro 2017
overall worst: Vuelta 2012

:)
 
Reactions: Cookster15
Has nothing to do with Valverde. I rank the 2010 Tour high and he didn't race it either. I found 2011 to be overall boring. It was either 2011 or 2012 that had a stage marred by tacts having been thrown on the road and a few riders got flats due to that. My memory is saying it was 2011. I was never a fan of Tommy V. Now if I'm wrong on the tacts and that was 2012 instead of 2011 then I'd switch the two.
That's fine. Thanks for clarifying although as 2011 unfolded there was almost overwhelming approval and also from people who didn't like Evans. This was not the case in 2012 when there was overwhelming disapproval for anyone not British. I do agree 2011 TdF could be much overrated as we should judge on three weeks not just the last week.

Liberty does a good job of explaining but the Pyrenees was still interesting even if only because many of us were astounded to see Voeckler being able to respond to the admittedly half hearted attacks by the Schlecks. Andy's 60 km raid on stage 18 and Contador's heroics the following day to the Alpe coloured many people's memory who forget the relative lack of action in this first two weeks. 2012 TdF by far the worst. 2018 not far behind as both of these editions were strangled by Brailsford's team IMO.

The Giro and Vuelta have both been more interesting to follow than the Tour which lends itself to domination by the strongest teams.
 
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Has nothing to do with Valverde. I rank the 2010 Tour high and he didn't race it either. I found 2011 to be overall boring. It was either 2011 or 2012 that had a stage marred by tacts having been thrown on the road and a few riders got flats due to that. My memory is saying it was 2011. I was never a fan of Tommy V. Now if I'm wrong on the tacts and that was 2012 instead of 2011 then I'd switch the two.
I thought 2010 Tour was boring especially compared to the previous year. As for why this was the case not sure that can be discussed here.
 
Best: 2010 Giro, 2003 TDF (even with Armstrong), 2007 TDF, 2012 Vuelta, 2017 Giro, 2008 Giro :D. 2011 TDF wasn't bad apart from GC in the first two weeks - there was still good racing for stages. Even the 2004 TDF was good until the mockery that was the AdH TT

Worst: 2012 TDF


2005 TDF, 2009 TDF (outside of Armstrong's melt downs), 2012 Giro were pretty dreary
 
2011 Tour was a good Dauphiné, but a garbage Grand Tour. Most overrated GT of the millennium for sure.

The tacks were 2012 in the Pyrenées (Mur de Peguère stage I believe). The Pyrenées in the 2011 sucked because nobody wanted to race them and we entered week 3 with everybody bar Voeckler and Evans on their TTT times. It is the perfect example of Marc Anthony's speech in Julius Caesar - getting to speak last means more people remember what you have to say. Because the end of the race was good, people remember it like it was some special GT, but for two weeks the sum total of the action not caused by crashes was Cuddles gaining a thimbleful of seconds on Mûr-de-Brétagne. The only thing saving it from 2012 Giro level ignominy is that the riders woke up from their stupor. 2011 Tour is not the worst GT of the millennium - and not especially close either - but it is also a really, really long way from being the best and is by far the most overrated.

Best: 2010 Giro
Worst: 2009 Tour

Thanks. Then I do need to be 2012 over 2011 as the worst because the tacts were horrible. Yes, not the race organizer's fault.

Cookster, your welcome.
 
Reactions: Cookster15
:D So the Giro it is for you. Are you still watching the Tour or have you given up?
But I think I can relate.
In the last month, I've been watching every Paris-Roubaix, Gent-Wevelgem and Paris-Roubaix since the 1970's. I'm up to 2001.
It will be a major letdown when I'm forced to watch live racing at the Tour this August.

Edit to add... I'm surprised to see the 2017 Giro mentioned as best. I don't think a single GC move occurred before the final climb of any stage. Even last year's Giro had a couple of good stages.
 
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A lot of these opinions naturally come from natural bias. If we were a huge fan of a particular rider then that can make a race more memorable to us then it otherwise would have been for a neutral fan. For me, nothing can beat the three days in the Alps in the 2006 Tour, though I was a Kloden fan, and whether that made it a great GT is up for debate. There were four high mountain stages that were fantastic. Plenty of action, some of it from a long distance from the finish line, and significant time gaps between the 10-20 (pre-race) contenders. Other than that there were two VERY LONG (for the current day) ITT's which also shaped the race, plus a flat stage which appeared insignificant, but had half an hour of significance from it. So that's exactly one week of excellent racing. Having said that, I am not sure if that many GT's have day after day of great racing (in terms of the GC). Maybe a part of a great GT, is also a build up of the suspense (and as someone already mentioned, Voekler not losing time in the Pyrenees was something that actually HAPPENED in the 2011 Tour; it would have been more boring if he had lost time, as expected).
 
Reactions: Cookster15
Jun 4, 2019
2
0
510
A lot of these opinions naturally come from natural bias. If we were a huge fan of a particular rider then that can make a race more memorable to us then it otherwise would have been for a neutral fan.
Absolutely, that's the main reason why I enjoyed the 2014 TDF, as a huge Nibali fan and a Pole (Majka won 2 big mountain stages), even though I absolutely am aware of the fact that many people may have thought this was a total bore in the mountains, since Froome & Berto had to drop out
 
Giro 2010 had everything I really want in a modern GT: action in the first two weeks, underdogs with huge advantage going into the big mountains, intermediate stages raced hard and creating gaps, bad weather, team tactics, difference making descents, a comeback story, a balanced route, beautiful climbs...

Other very good editions of the Giro were 2005, 2015 and 2018. Worst Giro was probably 2012, but I'm not particularly fond of the 2006-2009 period either.

Best Tour was hands down 2003. Lance looking human for once, Ulle as thin as ever in his wonderful Bianchi kit, Mayo going berserk in the mountains... At the time I didn't particularly enjoy the last few stages since I was a huge Beloki fan, but looking back it was a great GT.
I think 2006 was an oddly entertaining Tour as well, albeit I can understand why some people hated it.

Worst Tour is a tough call. 2016 was incredibly dull by all standards to me, Froome didn't even need to attack on a climb to win it. The fact it is mostly remembered for the Porte-moto incident speaks for itself. 2012 at least had the Wiggo-Froome and Wiggo-Nibali shenanigans to get by.

Vuelta has been the most consistent in bringing an engaging, if often unspectacular, TV product in my opinion. 2004 is the best I can remember, with Santi mounting his Boeing 747 engines and taking off in the third week. 2012 was also very good.
2010 perhaps the worst.
 

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