Candidate cage match: Alejandro Valverde vs. Sean Kelly

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Aug 8, 2017
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Jalabert has a similar profile and palmarés.

Laurent Jalabert

GTs

TDF: 4 stages, 2 points jerseys, 2 mountain jersey
Giro: 3 stages, 1 ponts jersey
Vuelta: 1 overall, 3 points jerseys, 1 mountain jersey, 18 stages

Week stage races
3 Paris-Nice
Volta a Catalunya
Vuelta a País Vasco
Tour de Romandie

Monuments
Milan-San Remo
Giro di Lombardia

Other 1-day races
2 Fleche-Wallone
2 Classica San Sebastian
Milan-Torino
ITT WC
RR WC podium
 
??

I can't count podiums obtained in a specific monument (the climber's monument) when mentioning riders who have podiums in both Grand Tours and monuments?
Can count them? Sure, why not? It just provides no value or indication of versatility. Chaves, Pinot Zaugg. They're just random climbers who won a race that no classics rider targets. Kind of like no one thinks Jakoob Fuglsang can win Paris-Roubaix even though he did well on a random pave stage in the Tour.
 
Can count them? Sure, why not? It just provides no value or indication of versatility. Chaves, Pinot Zaugg. They're just random climbers who won a race that no classics rider targets. Kind of like no one thinks Jakoob Fuglsang can win Paris-Roubaix even though he did well on a random pave stage in the Tour.
Kind of like Nuyens, Vansummeren, Hayman..?! :confused_old:
I mean really what the hell are you talking about?!
Lombardia shouldn't count? A race which is among the greatest for over 100 years?!
Not every race should be for 70-85 kg roleurs...
 
Reactions: hayneplane
Hm, yeah, few target Lombardia especially. But it's a race for high quality riders, and often not really shaped by helpers but by first class riders themselves. To say it does not provide value is... provocative.
 
Jalabert has a similar profile and palmarés.

Laurent Jalabert

GTs

TDF: 4 stages, 2 points jerseys, 2 mountain jersey
Giro: 3 stages, 1 ponts jersey
Vuelta: 1 overall, 3 points jerseys, 1 mountain jersey, 18 stages

Week stage races
3 Paris-Nice
Volta a Catalunya
Vuelta a País Vasco
Tour de Romandie

Monuments
Milan-San Remo
Giro di Lombardia

Other 1-day races
2 Fleche-Wallone
2 Classica San Sebastian
Milan-Torino
ITT WC
RR WC podium
It's a shallow palmares, compared to those two. He was a great rider though, but not that great...
 
Reactions: Koronin
Kelly’s palmares are clearly better. It’s not close. 1 GT and 9 Monuments versus 1 GT, 4 Monuments and 1 WC. That’s a 10 versus 6 comparison of top tier races. As you move down a tier the gap just gets wider. Kelly has more GT stages, more major one week races etc. Just more of everything that matters, with the solitary exception of Fleche Wallone. There’s no case for Valverde in terms of weight of wins.

The only issue that makes a comparison at all interesting is Valverde’s status as a man out of place in his time. Kelly was essentially the last of a succession of great all rounders, at the tail end of the era when top level all rounders were somewhat normal. Valverde is a unique throwback in an era when dominant all rounders are exceptionally rare.
 
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Kelly’s palmares are clearly better. It’s not close. 1 GT and 9 Monuments versus 1 GT, 4 Monuments and 1 WC. That’s a 10 versus 6 comparison of top tier races. As you move down a tier the gap just gets wider. Kelly has more GT stages, more major one week races etc. Just more of everything that matters, with the solitary exception of Fleche Wallone. There’s no case for Valverde in terms of weight of wins.

The only issue that makes a comparison at all interesting is Valverde’s status as a man out of place in his time. Kelly was essentially the last of a succession of great all rounders, at the tail end of the era when top level all founders were somewhat normal. Valverde is a unique throwback in an era when dominant all rounders are exceptionally rare.
Except podiums do count, and Valverde's WC podium record is one that no one is close to and may never come close to. Valverde has more podiums in general. Also in the age of specialization Valverde is racing against different groups of specialists, while Kelly was racing, more or less, against the same people. Valverde is racing against classics riders who are peaking for the classics, then GT specialists who are peaking for the GT's and others who are peaking for specific smaller stage races, which he's trying to win everything he enters.

For wins Kelly has the edge of 10 - 6, but for podiums Valverde has the edge of 26 - 19. Podiums are meaningful.
 
Except podiums do count, and Valverde's WC podium record is one that no one is close to and may never come close to. Valverde has more podiums in general. Also in the age of specialization Valverde is racing against different groups of specialists, while Kelly was racing, more or less, against the same people. Valverde is racing against classics riders who are peaking for the classics, then GT specialists who are peaking for the GT's and others who are peaking for specific smaller stage races, which he's trying to win everything he enters.

For wins Kelly has the edge of 10 - 6, but for podiums Valverde has the edge of 26 - 19. Podiums are meaningful.
Podiums are meaningful in many circumstances. They are not meaningful when you are comparing guys at the absolute top end of the sport who have won almost everything, except as a tie breaker. Kelly’s Ronde podiums are not significant career accomplishments by his standards, they are the answer to a trivia question about how close he came to a sweep of the monuments.

Really what makes Valverde truly noteworthy is that he was a dominant all rounder in an era when that isn’t supposed to be possible. It’s not that he put in lots of impressive losing performances,
 
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Podiums are meaningful in many circumstances. They are not meaningful when you are comparing guys at the absolute top end of the sport who have won almost everything, except as a tie breaker. Kelly’s Ronde podiums are not significant career accomplishments by his standards, they are the answer to a trivia question about how close he came to a sweep of the monuments.

Really what makes Valverde truly noteworthy is that he was a dominant all rounder in an era when that isn’t supposed to be possible. It’s not that he put in lots of impressive losing performances,
Except they are because they bring about a clearer picture. Valverde's podiums prove his consistency across the board and across his entire career. Before he won the worlds he was specifically asked if he'd trade in his record number of podiums for one rainbow jersey and he said no without even thinking about it. His reasoning was it shows his consistency across his career. Valverde owns the Worlds podium record by a nice margin. He owns the Ardennes podium record. He owns the Vuelta podium record and is tied with Kelly for the Vuelta green jersey record. Actually not having impressive loosing performances again proves consistency.
 
Podiums are meaningful in many circumstances. They are not meaningful when you are comparing guys at the absolute top end of the sport who have won almost everything, except as a tie breaker. Kelly’s Ronde podiums are not significant career accomplishments by his standards, they are the answer to a trivia question about how close he came to a sweep of the monuments.
But neither rider was at at the top end in GTs, so in a comparison of all-round ability, podiums do matter. If you compare any two riders in some area, and they only have one win each in that area, you don't stop there. You look at how well they did short of winning.

All you're really establishing is that Kelly was a better one-day racer, which I think everyone agrees on. He was not as good as Valverde at GTs, and simply saying they each won one doesn't end the comparison. By your logic, Valverde was no better at GTs that any other rider who won a single Vuelta, such as Yates, Aru, Horner, or Cobo (before his sanction), I don't know anyone who would make that case.

Also, in three of Valverde's WC podiums, he finished with the same time as the winner. That's not uncommon, but it shows that the difference between winning and making the podium is often a matter of chance. He put himself in a position to win four times.
 
Reactions: Blanco and Koronin
Podiums are meaningful in many circumstances. They are not meaningful when you are comparing guys at the absolute top end of the sport
Of course they are meaningful, even in that situations.
We have a situation here where both riders won 1 GT each.One rider has one podium plus, the other has 8:oops:. In my book that's a huge margin.
Or why do you think Poulidor and Zoetemelk are considered legends of the sport?
 
Reactions: Koronin
But neither rider was at at the top end in GTs, so in a comparison of all-round ability, podiums do matter. If you compare any two riders in some area, and they only have one win each in that area, you don't stop there. You look at how well they did short of winning.

All you're really establishing is that Kelly was a better one-day racer, which I think everyone agrees on. He was not as good as Valverde at GTs, and simply saying they each won one doesn't end the comparison. By your logic, Valverde was no better at GTs that any other rider who won a single Vuelta, such as Yates, Aru, Horner, or Cobo (before his sanction), I don't know anyone who would make that case.

Also, in three of Valverde's WC podiums, he finished with the same time as the winner. That's not uncommon, but it shows that the difference between winning and making the podium is often a matter of chance. He put himself in a position to win four times.
Neither rider were top end at GTs, correct. And so their abilities at GTs are less important in assessing them. They are great one day racers, great all rounders, great short stage racers and pretty strong but by no means great GT GC riders. Kelly was clearly better at all of the parts of the sport that put them both among the greats! Even when it comes to season long bulk winning of small races, another big important strength of Valverde, Kelly was simply better.

Saying Valverde has the edge at the facet of the sport neither rank among the greats even of their own eras at, just doesn’t change anything. They both won one GT. Valverde was better at GT GC, as demonstrated by his better losses, but he wasn’t that good at it either. If he was also among the greats as a GT rider and had actually won a bunch of them this would be an entirely different conversation. But he wasn’t and he didn’t. It’s like arguing that Kelly was a better TTist. He was, but it doesn’t really change the conversation.

There just isn’t a meaningful competition here. At the things that they rank among the greats at, Kelly was greater. In terms of palmares, Kelly’s are substantially, objectively, better. This isn’t one of those cases where we are trying to rank very different types of palmares. There’s nothing to debate.

I remain bewildered that Valverde fans insist on trying to talk up his historical standing by placing unreasonable weight on the amount of times he placed well while losing. That just doesn’t move the needle much when you are trying to compare him to real immortals of the sport. What does set him apart is that he won like the dominant all rounders of the past in an era when that’s supposed to be impossible. That’s his big selling point. That’s what he will be remembered as.
 
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Right but Jalabert had stronger opponents than Kelly in GTs and than Valverde in one day races.
Kelly's Irish streak would likely see him take them to the barriers. Meaning he was seriously tough in a time where most good riders of his skills had to rely mostly on their own efforts. I disagree that they weren't at the top end of GT's; just that they attempted to do everything else in the same season unlike most true GT riders.
 
Neither rider were top end at GTs, correct. And so their abilities at GTs are less important in assessing them. They are great one day racers, great all rounders, great short stage racers and pretty strong but by no means great GT GC riders. Kelly was clearly better at all of the parts of the sport that put them both among the greats! Even when it comes to season long bulk winning of small races, another big important strength of Valverde, Kelly was simply better.

Saying Valverde has the edge at the facet of the sport neither rank among the greats even of their own eras at, just doesn’t change anything. They both won one GT. Valverde was better at GT GC, as demonstrated by his better losses, but he wasn’t that good at it either. If he was also among the greats as a GT rider and had actually won a bunch of them this would be an entirely different conversation. But he wasn’t and he didn’t. It’s like arguing that Kelly was a better TTist. He was, but it doesn’t really change the conversation.

There just isn’t a meaningful competition here. At the things that they rank among the greats at, Kelly was greater. In terms of palmares, Kelly’s are substantially, objectively, better. This isn’t one of those cases where we are trying to rank very different types of palmares. There’s nothing to debate.

I remain bewildered that Valverde fans insist on trying to talk up his historical standing by placing unreasonable weight on the amount of times he placed well while losing. That just doesn’t move the needle much when you are trying to compare him to real immortals of the sport. What does set him apart is that he won like the dominant all rounders of the past in an era when that’s supposed to be impossible. That’s his big selling point. That’s what he will be remembered as.
Except you are not taking into account a major difference. During Kelly's time he was racing against the same riders in all the races. Everyone tried to win multiple types of races. There weren't many specialists if any then. Valverde is racing against specialists. He's racing against one group who specifically peak for the one day races and a completely different group who peak for the Grand Tours and a different group who are peaking for specific one week races. This is what gives Valverde an over all edge (along with the much larger number of podiums). Again in these type of things podiums do mean something. By the way podiums are also very meaningful to Valverde himself. In an interview about last season where he only had a handful of wins he mentioned that he also had a huge number of podiums (14 or 15). He's talked about how proud of his Worlds podium record. He's talked about his Ardennes podium record after he found out he broke that and has laughed about that one.

When you look at podiums along with wins you see that Valverde is the more consistent all rounder across the different types of races.
 
As far as Valverde the all rounder goes, he only ever won 1 of the 5 monuments.
Oh no, you didn't get it, not classics all-rounder, like Gilbert, not that type. It's to narrow...
Kind of all-rounder who sprints with Zabel, Freire, Sagan. Who trade punches on steep walls with Bettini, Gilbert, Purito. And the one who climb the high mountains with Armstrong, Contador and Froome.
That kind of all-rounder ;)
Be my guest and find someone similar...
 
Oh no, you didn't get it, not classics all-rounder, like Gilbert, not that type. It's to narrow...
Kind of all-rounder who sprints with Zabel, Freire, Sagan. Who trade punches on steep walls with Bettini, Gilbert, Purito. And the one who climb the high mountains with Armstrong, Contador and Froome.
That kind of all-rounder ;)
Be my guest and find someone similar...
At the highest level, Nibali. Definitely up there.

Ultimately I think Dumoulin and Thomas should be up there as well in terms of races they have the talent for, but they've sadly abandoned the one day races.
 
Aug 8, 2017
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Kelly's Irish streak would likely see him take them to the barriers. Meaning he was seriously tough in a time where most good riders of his skills had to rely mostly on their own efforts. I disagree that they weren't at the top end of GT's; just that they attempted to do everything else in the same season unlike most true GT riders.
Are "them" Jalabert GT opponents and "they" Kelly GT opponents?
It requires to compare different times and so racing principles and the model of a GT winner too but I think that, in opposite with one day races, it became more difficult with to win a GT, competition quite increased.
 
Neither rider were top end at GTs, correct. And so their abilities at GTs are less important in assessing them. They are great one day racers, great all rounders, great short stage racers and pretty strong but by no means great GT GC riders. Kelly was clearly better at all of the parts of the sport that put them both among the greats! Even when it comes to season long bulk winning of small races, another big important strength of Valverde, Kelly was simply better.
I think there's a distinction to be made between judging who was the best rider vs. the best all-rounder (a distinction which, to be fair, I didn't make when starting this thread). You think Kelly's dominance in monuments and other one-day races more than compensates for his lesser results in GTs, making him the better rider. I can respect that, but being the better rider doesn't necessarily mean being the better all-rounder.

E.g., I would say Froome and Contador are better riders than Valverde, because their dominance in GTs compensates for their lack of results in other races. But no one would say that Froome and Contador were better all-rounders than Valverde. You might say Usain Bolt was a better athlete than anyone who won the decathlon, but any decathlon winner is more of an all-round athlete than Bolt.

At the highest level, Nibali. Definitely up there.
Agree with that. Definitely better than Valverde at GTs, to the point where he's almost in the conversation as the best GT rider of his generation. Not quite, but definitely up there.

As for monuments, Valverde has been more consistent with 11 podiums in 30 tries, vs. 5/26 for Nibs (who has more time left, though). Valverde also has a far more impressive record in shorter stage races,

I'd put Nibs in the conversation with Valverde as an all-rounder, because he's shown more talent in one day races than other elite GT riders have. If he concentrated more on them and less on GTs, no doubt he would win or at least place in even more. You can't say that about Froome and Contador, and you can't say Kelly didn't concentrate on GTs.

But again, this underscores the point about specialization. You don't expect GT riders in this age to contest a lot of one day races. That's what makes Valverde's record so unusual.
 
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Except you are not taking into account a major difference. During Kelly's time he was racing against the same riders in all the races. Everyone tried to win multiple types of races. There weren't many specialists if any then. Valverde is racing against specialists. He's racing against one group who specifically peak for the one day races and a completely different group who peak for the Grand Tours and a different group who are peaking for specific one week races. This is what gives Valverde an over all edge (along with the much larger number of podiums). Again in these type of things podiums do mean something. By the way podiums are also very meaningful to Valverde himself. In an interview about last season where he only had a handful of wins he mentioned that he also had a huge number of podiums (14 or 15). He's talked about how proud of his Worlds podium record. He's talked about his Ardennes podium record after he found out he broke that and has laughed about that one.

When you look at podiums along with wins you see that Valverde is the more consistent all rounder across the different types of races.
Which makes him the most marketable rider of his age in his revenue stream. We may be minimizing the aftermarket motivation to win the races that net the riders serious financial gains. Especially in Kelly's time the peripheral income was paramount: appearance fees at post Tour crits, promotional events, etc. He marketed to great effect at that time. Now, most riders are programmed to fulfill their niche as much as possible. They get paid serious salaries and the aftermarket may be secondary. Kelley, Lemond, Hinault...all survived on the income they made outside of actually racing. Add that factor into how racing is now and it's apples and cherries. As pros; they should be making the money. If they want to dedicate an event to fans; great. All of them are one minor crash from obscurity so that continues to make Kelly the killer/promoter/survivor to me. Everyone else is somewhat a coddled poodle racer by comparison. Sh*t...the guy stayed up all night to drive to the next appearance fee criterium and still got results. The factor not included in this comparison is the motivation to race for pay alone.
Geraint Thomas, for example; the guy has skills across the board and could have made a bigger splash if he wasn't stuck in the Sky machine and Barloworld. I don't know if he possesses the sheer desire to earn for his family but he has had the physical skills to work a lot of these guys too. Can you imagine what Peter Sagan would accomplish in Kelly's era?
 

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