Best/worst Grand Tours of the 21st century

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Because for me 2011 and 2012 I have basically together as worst Tours, so one thing can put one over the other.
I get that you think 2012 was one of the worst. There was little to no excitement and there was never any doubt what the end result was going to be. 2011 wasn't the best Tour, but at least the last week was pretty enjoyable to watch. Especially the 'shorter' mountain stage won by Andy Schleck was a nice one.
 
I get that you think 2012 was one of the worst. There was little to no excitement and there was never any doubt what the end result was going to be. 2011 wasn't the best Tour, but at least the last week was pretty enjoyable to watch. Especially the 'shorter' mountain stage won by Andy Schleck was a nice one.
You can have a nice stage in a race that is overall not good.
 
Let's be honest:

If anybody thinks the stages we got in the last part of the 2011 Tour doesn't elevate it waaaay above anywhere near the worst Tour, it's because they don't remember either those stages or any other of the recent editions of the Tour.

Stages 18 and 19 of the 2011 Tour provided long-distance action similar to nothing we have seen in other Tours since Induráins reign began.

The only times we have been close to something similar, landslides made sure it wasn't going to happen or it was Landis.
 
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As I've said previous I do not like the Tour and find it to be typically one of the absolute worst races of the entire season. This is my opinion of the race as a whole. I put most Tours I've seen as almost equal to worst.
 
I get that you think 2012 was one of the worst. There was little to no excitement and there was never any doubt what the end result was going to be. 2011 wasn't the best Tour, but at least the last week was pretty enjoyable to watch. Especially the 'shorter' mountain stage won by Andy Schleck was a nice one.
Was this sarcasm or conflating stages 18 and 19? Honest question - especially with the quotation marks, I'm not sure if you're mixing the two stages up or if it's a sarcastic reference to ASO's later responses. The stage Andy won was 200km long. The Alpe d'Huez stage was 110km long.

For some reason ASO forgot about the Andy stage, and the only lesson they took was "short mountain stages are good. We should have more of them", forgetting that a well designed 200km mountain stage is just as good.

Although there was also a convergence of factors that meant those stages were better than expected - Contador's positive meaning he raced the Giro which he ordinarily wouldn't have done, Andy racing the Pyrenées like a lobotomised coward meaning he was running out of chances to achieve anything that Tour if he wanted to win it, and Voeckler's odyssey in the maillot jaune. A bit like how a set of fortunate circumstances meant the 2012 Vuelta was far better than it had any right to be (it's still one of the worst GT designs of all time) and the lesson Unipublic took from it was "more MTFs! More steep MTFs! Less mid-stage passes!". There was a series of short mountain stages in the early 2000s in the Giro and Vuelta and by and large they sucked, which is why they didn't have any for a few years. Now they've become the norm and a GT route like the 2020 Tour which has none of them is very much the exception. And the long, multi-col mountain stage has become marginalised, because many of the long mountain stages of late have been poorly-designed or placed in such a position as to neuter racing (e.g. with a super steep MTF the next day that riders are afraid of).

In 2011 the mountains didn't start until stage 12, and then they were raced by a bunch of guys who didn't want to race them. After that it was pretty much mountain stage after mountain stage until the end of the race... save for one pointless, worthless transitional sprint stage... which took place on a weekend. Because there was nothing that sorted the GC men from the boys until stage 12, everybody was more or less on their TTT time until then, which meant everybody still had something to protect, the pack was nervy as everybody wanted to be up front, and it just turned into a crashfest for a week and a half. In a way, we're lucky the Pyrenées were raced so badly because it meant the Alps had to be raced more aggressively; we got two weeks of hot garbage followed up by a week of good quality raceing, otherwise we'd probably have had a week and a half of awful racing followed by a week and a half of average racing, which wouldn't be remembered anything like as fondly.

But hey, at least unlike the 2012 Giro, the riders did wake up and realise they were going to lose. Riders were afraid enough of Evans' ITT to take him seriously whereas I don't think Rodríguez, Basso, Scarponi et al took Hesjedal as as serious a threat as he turned out to be, and never got out of their slumber until he was in comfortably enough form to hold on to them. My problem with the 2011 Tour is not that it is the worst GT of recent years - it clearly isn't. 2012 Tour, 2016 Tour, 2007 Vuelta, 2012 Giro, 2004 Tour, possibly the 2004 Giro (similar rating really, too many sprint stages and two good racing-from-afar days) and especially the godawful 2009 Tour were all worse than the 2011 Tour. It had a really good final week. But that's all it had, and my problem is that because it left people with fond memories, because it ended strongly, people went away with very rose-tinted views of it and start hyping it up as one of the best GTs of the last 20 years, which I really can't get on board with because apart from a couple of kilometres in the Mûr-de-Brétagne stage and the last half hour or so to Cap Fréhel, there was no actual racing until the second rest day. It was, however, the best Dauphiné Libéré of the millennium.
 
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I think the main reason why they didn't really take Ryder serious in 2012 was because he was getting dropped everytime the pace went up in the gc ground on the Lago Laceno stage that was won by Pozzovivo, if they actually rode harder they could have put a decent amount of time into him. They probably saw that as his actual climbing level and were pretty confident that he would crack in the high mountains. Basso didn't have the legs to do anything after the Cortina stage, neither did Scarponi, Pozzovivo did a Pozzovivo and lost lots of time on stage 15 with bad weather and on the final MTf (who the hell thinks that a Stelvio MTF is a good final mountain stage, make that one end in Bormio before the Stelvio and they'll go all out on the unseen side of the Mortirolo).
Still, nothing big really happening, day after day, only Basso even tried to keep the pace high on the Giau, that was a really, really bad Giro.
 
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The 2019 tour was heading to all-timer status until the Alps, more due to Pinot's unfortunate collapse than the shortened/canceled stages.

Other than the canceled stage, I think the only thing I remember about the 2013 Giro was DdL's hilarious positive. 2012 is an all-timer "close but boring GC race" GT.

The 2013 tour was entertaining in spots but was over after Ax 3 Domaines. 2016 was probably the peak of throwing stuff at the screen because nobody wants to risk 7th GC place for the WT points, though I don't think anyone was beating Sky anyway.

The Vuelta is the Vuelta, it's generally always interesting, and last year had some tremendous entertainment despite a somewhat boring GC race (at least for first place) . I remember 2014 (the one with a stacked field because so many people were trying to make up for missing/dropping from the Tour) not living up to the hype, though.

Also, regarding the discussion above, I feel like pointing out that the best GT stages of the year were long- Foix Prat d'Albis at the Tour and Platforma de Gredos at the Vuelta.
 
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I think the main reason why they didn't really take Ryder serious in 2012 was because he was getting dropped everytime the pace went up in the gc ground on the Lago Laceno stage that was won by Pozzovivo, if they actually rode harder they could have put a decent amount of time into him. They probably saw that as his actual climbing level and were pretty confident that he would crack in the high mountains. Basso didn't have the legs to do anything after the Cortina stage, neither did Scarponi, Pozzovivo did a Pozzovivo and lost lots of time on stage 15 with bad weather and on the final MTf (who the hell thinks that a Stelvio MTF is a good final mountain stage, make that one end in Bormio before the Stelvio and they'll go all out on the unseen side of the Mortirolo).
Still, nothing big really happening, day after day, only Basso even tried to keep the pace high on the Giau, that was a really, really bad Giro.
Scarponi even said this, that they saw him suffering and didn't take him seriously enough to ride him out of contention at that point as a result, thinking he would fall away. However throughout his admittedly relatively brief period as a GC rider, Hesjedal always rode better as the race went on and by the time he was hitting form, several of the others were losing theirs.
 
Yeah, the one time in my lifetime apart from 2006, 2007, 2008, 2011 and then 2019 where the conclusion was not written after the first week. I kind of like that in a race.

Also, the fact that Contador won the race with 39 seconds which was exactly the amount of time he gained through chaingate was quite mind-boggling.
 
Best Giros 2005, 2010, 2018
Tours 2003, 2011, 2015 (and 2006 which is the craziest GT)
Vuelta 2012, 2014 (can't remember much from the 2000s)

I'd put either the 2005 or 2018 Giro as the best
The 2015 Tour probably had the best quality top 5 of any GT ever (rivalled by the 1984 Tour)
 
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Best:
Giro - 2016 & 2017
Tour - 2003 & 2019
Vuelta - 2012 and also 2002, 2004, 2014 & 2015

Worst:
Giro - 2006 & 2012
Tour - 2012 and also 2001, 2004 & 2006
Vuelta - 2007 & 2008
 
Picking the best Grand Tours can be quite hard. Many of my best memories are from the late nineties. After that the Tour was largely ruined by US Postal and Team Sky. 2019 looked promising after two weeks, but it was ruined by the mud slides and Pinot's injury. So I end up with these favourites (not in order):

Tour 2008: Carlos Sastre

He was never the super talent who would win a string of Grand Tours. I expected him to win one Vuelta, but no Tour. He was a fighter, often at his best in the mountain stages of the third week. Sometimes he had to sacrifice his chances for a failing leader. Basso's exclusion from the Tour 2006 suddenly made him the leader who didn't ask for it. In 2008 he deserved his win, because he had the guts to attack at the foot of L'Alpe d'Huez and he was strong enough to defend his lead. It's a nice example of a victory for an eternal underdog.

Tour 2014: Vincenzo Nibali

That Tour was partly ruined by crashes, but it's the only year with a winner that I like in that era. Nibali took an important lead on the cobblestones in the first week. After that I expected an exciting duel with Contador, but that didn't happen. Nibali might have won anyway, but we'll never know for sure.

Giro 2003: Gilberto Simoni

After Pantani I was always hoping for a new great climber, and Simoni came close to that in this Giro. He was dominant in the Dolomites in the third week, and defended well on the other terrain. He could probably have podiumed in the Tour as well if he had made that his main goal, but I'd rather see him win the Giro than finish third in the Tour. I think he could have won four Giro instead of two if he had played it a little smarter.

Giro 2010: Ivan Basso

This was an impressive comeback. It was a great win for Basso because he decided it by attacking in the mountains. His climb of the Zoncolan was very impressive, and he never had a bad day. The final time trial in Verona must be a great memory for him.

Vuelta 2012: Alberto Contador

This was not his most dominant win, but it was an exc iting one because of the battle against fellow Spaniards Valverde and Rodriguez. The latter seemed on his way to win his only GT, but he was surprised by Contador's attack in the stage to Fuente Dé. It was great to see a succesful attack over a longer distance.

Vuelta 2016: Nairo Quintana

Quintana became my new favourite climber in 2013, but he always had the problem of the time trials. He could take time back in the mountains, but usually not enough to beat Froome. This time it did happen by attacking in the middle mountains on the way to Formigal, in a coalition with Contador. Along with his solo on Lagos de Covadonga this gave him a big enough margin to go into the final time trial without much pressure.

Worst editions:
Tour 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2013, 2015, 2016, 2017.
Giro 2018
Vuelta 2013: Chris Freaking Horner
 
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It wasn't my favorite, but I rather liked the 2017 tour, mainly for the adventures of Fabio Aru who did solid work livening up the race after a poor GC race in 2016.


Carlos Sastre gets dinged for inspiring LA to come back with Astana.
 

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