Over- and underachievers during the last 20 years

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I think that in general, fans think that more riders should have won "multiple GT's" then what is realistic. Consider that most riders only have about a 5 year peak period, and that there are only 3 GT's each year. To make matters worse (or harder), most riders can only peak for one GT per season (it's not like tennis grand slams), and there is probably going to be one rider during your era who is quite dominant, and who wins at least a few GT's. So if you are a rider who was probably in the top 10 of the GC riders in your era, but probably not in the top 3, and someone who doesn't stand out from half a dozen of their other rivals; then how can they be expected to win multiple GT's?

Someone like Menchov (who won 3 GT's) probably greatly overachieved, rather than his rivals (Kloden, Evans, Vino, Levi, etc) greatly underachieving, if that makes any sense.
 
Leipheimer did look very strong for about 2 GTs in his mid 30s, in 2007/2008. Other than that, I can't attest to the 2001 Vuelta where he got 3rd, but he didn't break the top 5 in the Tour before 2007. In the 2007 Tour he showed a GT winning level only in the 3rd week (he got beaten by Contador in the Albi TT and finished 2 spots ahead of Rasmussen), while getting dropped convincingly on Tignes. The 2008 Vuelta had a very ITT friendly route and he lost it all on the Angliru

Then in 2009 he was leader in the Giro with a huge ITT in it and he only got like 6th or something getting dropped on every important mountain stage.

As for wins in general, he actually won quite a bit of small stuff, which is a lot more than most other subtop GT riders do.

In all, he was a GT rider who only reached a really high level in 2 GTs in his mid 30s, and I don't think most riders who only get hot for 2 GTs win multiple GTs. There's better riders without GT wins, and very few worse riders with GT wins. In the last decade I'd say only Horner, Hesjedal and Cobo make that cut.
What kind of weird world was this? :laughing:
 
An underachiver is Thomas De Gendt. He has the physical attributes to be a top GC rider but just isn't interested trying to be good every day. And he seems very happy about it.
With wins on Stelvio and Ventoux I would be too.

I wouldn't be surprised if he has a serious attempt at something like Alpe D'huez, Angliru or Covadonga in the next few years
 
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I just don't see that in De Gendt. I don't think his outliers in the mountains or in TTs are good enough to really back that up.
I think it's been said here before that his calculation appears to be that there's little point in him riding conservatively for 3 weeks to finish anonymously in the lower half of the top 10. He'd much rather pick 2 or 3 days, and go all-out for a stage win on one of those. I'm sure the folks at the Lotto marketing department are quite happy for him to keep that up, too.
 
I think it's been said here before that his calculation appears to be that there's little point in him riding conservatively for 3 weeks to finish anonymously in the lower half of the top 10. He'd much rather pick 2 or 3 days, and go all-out for a stage win on one of those. I'm sure the folks at the Lotto marketing department are quite happy for him to keep that up, too.
That's fair, but in that case I don't think getting a GT podium and winning stages in all 3 along with a bunch of stages and lesser races everywhere really underachieving.
 
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Okay but it's an odd comment.

"You aren't worthy of commenting on those two, only the Queen Almighty of the forum are entitled to that."

Or maybe I have just missed her talking about them and am out of the loop on a particular forum meme.
 
Okay but it's an odd comment.

"You aren't worthy of commenting on those two, only the Queen Almighty of the forum are entitled to that."

Or maybe I have just missed her talking about them and am out of the loop on a particular forum meme.
She has talked about her feelings on the two extensively so I felt she could better state why they are overachievers. Red Rick gave a thorough, articulate reason for Leipheimer.
 
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I would say someone like De Gendt is an overachiever. He wins more races than would be expected for someone who isn't a GC rider, sprinter or classics specialist. Same for Jens Voigt.
Well Voigt and DeGendt are both breakaway specialists, and they've won a lot in breakaways. As I said, winning through breakaways is probably the hardest way to win races, yet those 2 managed to do it pretty consistently throughout their careers.

Mentioning Jens, though, he still managed to get a few GC wins, and a monument podium, in his career. DeGendt's wins seem to pretty much all be stages. At least, since the 2009 Wielertrofee Jong Maar Moedig .
 
I would say someone like De Gendt is an overachiever. He wins more races than would be expected for someone who isn't a GC rider, sprinter or classics specialist. Same for Jens Voigt.
Well both probably rank among the best when it comes to raw engine and endurance. Both are/were also great time trialists. Maybe not the best aero position but they make/made up for it with pure power.

De Gendt finished 3rd in a GT.He obviously benefited from a breakaway but he was 9th prior to the stage in front of riders like Cunego, Nieve or Kreuziger. I think with a more GC focused approach he could have easily collected more GT top 10s but as he mentioned multiple times. He doesn´t like it. Especially the constant fight for positioning. Whenever I watch De Gendt he is either in the break, chasing the break or at the back of the peleton. Never somewhere in the middle.

Voigt is a similar case but maybe not as good of a climber. I always wondered why he did not try his luck on the cobbles.
I will always remember the 2005 edition of Liege-Bastogne-Liege. He was on the attack or pacing the leaders group all race long and dropped multiple big names with 80+ kms to go. Others like Rebellin were barely able to hang on when he pushed the pace on a false flat.
After wasting all that energy he attacked again with 50+ km to go and was joined by Vinokourov. Voigt did most of the work and the rest of the field never came close to catching them. Vino played it smart and beat him in the sprint.
In terms of raw power the only comparable performance I have seen since I started to watch cycling (late 90s/early 2000s) was Cancellara in 2010 (both Paris-Roubaix and Ronde).

I think you already pointed out the problem for riders like Voigt or De Gendt. A strong engine doesn´t automatically translate to winning. They basically have to finish alone to win a race and that´s really difficult because other riders can simply take advantage of them and wheel suck their way to a victory.

Even a guy like Cancellara did not win a lot of races outside of TTs. On WT level he only has one non TT GT stage win and a few stages at Tireno, Paris-Nizza and the Tour de Suisse. Never won any non TT WT stage after 2008.
 
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Well Voigt and DeGendt are both breakaway specialists, and they've won a lot in breakaways. As I said, winning through breakaways is probably the hardest way to win races, yet those 2 managed to do it pretty consistently throughout their careers.
Yes, breakaways are the hardest way to win races. Voigt and DeGendt consistently get/got results above what would be expected for breakaway specialist, which is the very definition of overachieving.
 
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As I said, winning through breakaways is probably the hardest way to win races
I think this statement could use some clarification because I'm sure winning a stage through a breakaway is actually the easiest way one could land a pro win. It of course depends on circumstances a lot. Sometimes the peloton doesn't really care to catch you and you end up battling just a few guys neither of whom would be anywhere close to being a winner on a normal day. And sometimes you don't even need to be the strongest among those few guys, just attack at the right moment when they hesitate.
Sometimes you fend off the chase from a determined peloton which is of course very hard but that's not the most common thing that happens when someone wins from a breakaway. Definetely something like the Stelvio win from de Gendt was much more impressive than a typical breakaway win and even many of the regular wins from the whole peloton. But if it was just sheer power all the time, why does he never do it in classics? Does he not care about classics? Or maybe it's actually much more difficult to pull it off in one day race when every top guy is actually riding to be first at the finish line on that particular day? ;) Which is why I've never found breakaway stage wins to be anywhere near as impressive as top results in classics.
 
I think this statement could use some clarification because I'm sure winning a stage through a breakaway is actually the easiest way one could land a pro win. It of course depends on circumstances a lot. Sometimes the peloton doesn't really care to catch you and you end up battling just a few guys neither of whom would be anywhere close to being a winner on a normal day. And sometimes you don't even need to be the strongest among those few guys, just attack at the right moment when they hesitate.
Sometimes you fend off the chase from a determined peloton which is of course very hard but that's not the most common thing that happens when someone wins from a breakaway. Definetely something like the Stelvio win from de Gendt was much more impressive than a typical breakaway win and even many of the regular wins from the whole peloton. But if it was just sheer power all the time, why does he never do it in classics? Does he not care about classics? Or maybe it's actually much more difficult to pull it off in one day race when every top guy is actually riding to be first at the finish line on that particular day? ;) Which is why I've never found breakaway stage wins to be anywhere near as impressive as top results in classics.
If it was the easiest way to win a race, then you'd see all the rouleurs shooting off the front from the gun. Much easier to sit in your teammate's wheels for 5 hours and save all your matches for the last 20km.

There's a difference between a breakaway being the easiest way to win a race (not true), and being the only way most riders in the race have any chance of winning it (true). De Gendt and Voigt are 2 examples of riders with enough talent to win races in the final 20km against the big boys, but made the calculation that they were better off going for it from much further out.

Yes, breakaways are the hardest way to win races. Voigt and DeGendt consistently get/got results above what would be expected for breakaway specialist, which is the very definition of overachieving.
Breakaways are the hardest way to win races, but they are what you must do if you can win races no other way. However, given how consistently DeGendt wins via breakaways, you must suspect that he could also win, and arguably win more often, the more conventional way. And if we can argue that he would win more races, then we must also argue that he is actually an underachiever.


I think Voigt was an overachiever, but not because of his consistent breakaway wins, but because he got those while also working as a domestique for the Schlecks, Basso, Sastre, Cancellara etc, and also picked up multiple wins at Criterium International, the Deutschland Tour, etc.
 
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Breakaways have by far the lowest threshold for winning races, and from elite sprinters, they're the easiest way to win from. They're also really unreliable ways to win from. They are largely the only sort of win availabe to riders who are solid overall riders but never the best at anything, which makes up a lot of the peloton.

It's a really basic concept. Instead of having to beat the entire peloton in a controlled race, you only need to beat a small group in a less controlled race. Sometimes these smaller groups are really uneven, especially in some mountain stages where the first half is flat where there happens to be one really good climber in the breakaway that ends up winning. Landa winning on Piancavallo is an example.

Also, despite being less specalised, there's sort of a limit to how good breakaway specialists are. Because if there engine was really that big, they'd probably at least compete in some sort of classics. So while breakaway wins can undoubtedly be entertaining and very impressive, the "specialists" will often be sub top riders at best in their main quality.

You might consider mountain breakaways a little different cause you always have the random elite climbers who have given up on GC and sometimes put down the best or near the best climbing times on cols even when coming from a breakaway.
 
Breakaways have by far the lowest threshold for winning races, and from elite sprinters, they're the easiest way to win from. They're also really unreliable ways to win from. They are largely the only sort of win availabe to riders who are solid overall riders but never the best at anything, which makes up a lot of the peloton.

It's a really basic concept. Instead of having to beat the entire peloton in a controlled race, you only need to beat a small group in a less controlled race. Sometimes these smaller groups are really uneven, especially in some mountain stages where the first half is flat where there happens to be one really good climber in the breakaway that ends up winning. Landa winning on Piancavallo is an example.

Also, despite being less specalised, there's sort of a limit to how good breakaway specialists are. Because if there engine was really that big, they'd probably at least compete in some sort of classics. So while breakaway wins can undoubtedly be entertaining and very impressive, the "specialists" will often be sub top riders at best in their main quality.

You might consider mountain breakaways a little different cause you always have the random elite climbers who have given up on GC and sometimes put down the best or near the best climbing times on cols even when coming from a breakaway.
Agree but there are exceptions. Especially great time trialists. Including Voigt or De Gendt. They have the engine but might not have the skills or the will to compete in cobbled classics or lack the punch/ climbing ability to compete in hilly classics. In my mentioned example of Liege 2005. Voigt dropped the likes of Kashechkin, Rodriguez or Kirchen on a false flat. That´s not something the average breakaway rider can do.
Tony Martin probably had (maybe still has) the biggest engine in the field in the last 10 years. He could chase down a ten men breakaway on his own or in the reversed situation stay away as a solist against multiple teams chasing him.
Those kind of riders could finish a 200km stage faster than anyone else if it was raced like an TT simply because they have the engine. But outside of TTs and with the reduction of long TTs there just isn´t a lot those kind of riders can win. Being able to push harder and longer than anyone else on the flat is a valuable skill for a helper but it doesn´t translate to a lot of wins.
 
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Is Tony Martin a case of a rider who, with the engine he had, should have been able to do more in mass start road races? There was a very late-on, half-hearted switch to maybe being a bit of a classics guy when he went to Katusha (which led to him winning nothing, because Katusha), but other than that he was generally used at Quickstep as the guy who would either chase the break down for others, or be the guy who got in the break. And now he's at Lotto to work for their GC guys.
 
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Well both probably rank among the best when it comes to raw engine and endurance. Both are/were also great time trialists. Maybe not the best aero position but they make/made up for it with pure power.

De Gendt finished 3rd in a GT.He obviously benefited from a breakaway but he was 9th prior to the stage in front of riders like Cunego, Nieve or Kreuziger. I think with a more GC focused approach he could have easily collected more GT top 10s but as he mentioned multiple times. He doesn´t like it. Especially the constant fight for positioning. Whenever I watch De Gendt he is either in the break, chasing the break or at the back of the peleton. Never somewhere in the middle.

I first brought up De Gendt and I first noticed him in his Grand Tour debut, aged 24, at the 2011 Tour. He was on a Vacansoleil team that had had a hard race and he was well down on GC. But then came the last mountain stage up Alpe d'Huez and he came in 6th (later 5th) alongside Evans and the Schlecks. And the very next day he comes third in the TT behind only Martin and Evans. So people thought this is a man on the rise, especially me.

Then his next GT, the admittedly underwhelming 2012 Giro he comes third, snatching the podium with his Stelvio ride. Potential confirmed. This is a new GC star.

But he had other ideas and ploughed his own furrow of stage wins and mountains jerseys. It would have been good to see him just occasionally have a crack at GC, even in a one week race. But he's happy and many who chase bigger things aren't.
 
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Yes, breakaways are the hardest way to win races. Voigt and DeGendt consistently get/got results above what would be expected for breakaway specialist, which is the very definition of overachieving.
Voigt in 2002 - 2005 form (ie. When he was actually good) could have also finished well into the top 10 if he didn't ride like a maniac all the time.

Look at how he chased down Ullrich in 2004 for Basso and shredded USPS in the process, all after spending the first 10 days in the break.
 
If we mean by this question who most overachieved their physical talents, we are mostly talking about the riders who had the greatest mental talents.

There’s something a bit strange about the way in which cycling fans tend to value the physical capacities of riders over their mental ones.
This. A lot of time we have very little idea of their physical talents because they don't have any racecraft; they're on a team that doesn't use them correctly etc. Of course there are obviously physical standouts: Remco, Frank VDB etc. But could you look at Froome and say he's a physically talented rider? And yet.

Nonetheless this is a fun exercise. I take some issue with those calling A. Schleck an underachiever: He had impressive early success but by the time he was in his mid 20s his knee injury effectively ended his career. Had he been healthy and raced into his mid 30s I think it would have been different.

But I do think there are a lot of underachievers, especially riders like Porte, Bardet, Majka who focus on GTs they have no chance of winning, when their real strengths might be in one day races.
 
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