Over- and underachievers durning the last 20 years

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It’s easy to consider Andy an underachiever, but part of me puts him in the same group as Taylor Phinney and Soler.

Remember that Schleck’s career should’ve been winding down about now. He was only like 26 or 27 when he had the crash that ended his career as a GC rider.
I think Schleck was just always not super motivated, mentally fragile, and injuries, the belated Tour win, as well as Fränks suspension did him in the head as much as physically.

Biggest under achievers: Andy Schleck and Cunego. I think that was easy
Biggest over Achievers: Pereiro maybe. Armstrong, Froome, Thomas.
I just don't see how Cunego has underachieved? His only GT podium is a Giro win, and he only has 3 top 5s total. He won Il Lombardia all 3 times he made the top 10. Sure he could've won the 2008 Worlds and he never won LBL, but the short time he was world class he made the most of it.

Took Valverde until 2017 to eclipse Cunego for big wins.
 
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I guess the likes of Hesjedal or Hayman can be considered overachievers as they have a win in their palmares nobody expected from them. That said guys who simply got lucky once and had everything falling into place for them don't really feel like overachievers to me.
For me a real overachiever is someone like Gerrans who didn't just happen to win one big race, he really made a career out of winning races without actually being that strong. I'd argue someone like Aru is a bit of an overachiever as well, he just doesn't feel like it because he was a youngster who everyone expected to have a super successful future. But really look at him now. He had like two good and a few more decent seasons and even with the level he showed in those you wouldn't expect him to be a gt winner, a multiple gt podium finisher and 6 time gt stage winner (with stages in all three gt's). He absolutely got the maximum out of the few good seasons he had.

An interesting one who was mentioned earlier is Gilbert as an overachiever. I think his career since 2012 is really unique. Before that he was argubly just as strong as he was succesful, but since then he was mostly very mediocre yet still won both the Ronde and Paris Roubaix, the latter basically the 2nd time he even tried to, which is super rare. Him going back to aiming for cobbles classics and winning the two most important ones almost right away despite clearly not being the strongest cobbles rider is in my opinion definitely overachieving. That said, Gilbert completely wasted many of his peak years at BMC where he could never fulfill his potential. So overall since 2012 Gilbert had a weird mixture of both over and underachieving which at the end means he is probably right where he should be.
 
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I guess the likes of Hesjedal or Hayman can be considered overachievers as they have a win in their palmares nobody expected from them. That said guys who simply got lucky once and had everything falling into place for them don't really feel like overachievers to me.
For me a real overachiever is someone like Gerrans who didn't just happen to win one big race, he really made a career out of winning races without actually being that strong. I'd argue someone like Aru is a bit of an overachiever as well, he just doesn't feel like it because he was a youngster who everyone expected to have a super successful future. But really look at him now. He had like two good and a few more decent seasons and even with the level he showed in those you wouldn't expect him to be a gt winner, a multiple gt podium finisher and 6 time gt stage winner (with stages in all three gt's). He absolutely got the maximum out of the few good seasons he had.

An interesting one who was mentioned earlier is Gilbert as an overachiever. I think his career since 2012 is really unique. Before that he was argubly just as strong as he was succesful, but since then he was mostly very mediocre yet still won both the Ronde and Paris Roubaix, the latter basically the 2nd time he even tried to, which is super rare. Him going back to aiming for cobbles classics and winning the two most important ones almost right away despite clearly not being the strongest cobbles rider is in my opinion definitely overachieving. That said, Gilbert completely wasted many of his peak years at BMC where he could never fulfill his potential. So overall since 2012 Gilbert had a weird mixture of both over and underachieving which at the end means he is probably right where he should be.
Didn't really waste his time at BMC as he was the designated leader everywhere he wanted to be and never really had to waste his time being a domestique. His only top 5 at the worlds is a win on what might be the biggest one man parcours I've ever seen. Two top 5s in Lombardia, both are wins, and he won them before newer routes made it basically impossible for a rider of his type to win it. Winning Roubaix on his 3rd time riding it with many thanks to team strength and perhaps a slightly depleted cobbles field with the retirements of Boonen and Canc. Despite focusing on the Ardennes his entire career, he has a single win in his magical year and besides that never got close to winning.

Maybe all in all Gilbert wasted a lot of time focusing on the Ardennes, and as far as one day racers go Gilbert is not specialised enough, etc. But he also doesn't have many near misses I'd consider getting unlucky results etc.
 
Biggest overachiever -Christopher Froome

C'mon who would have thought when he ran into the UCI official at the olympics despite there being acres of road to ride on !!
He is tall, gangly and has no physical attributes that put him so above other elite riders

Comparing his data to say Joe Domboski ..I know who SKY were most excited to sign and even for ages after that !!!

But Froome took what he had and got better and better and better
No physical attributes, not so sure about that. Has always had a very big engine, as the test he had in Switzerland when he was young showed. If he'd had a more traditional route into pro-cycling when he was younger he could well have achieved more.
 
I feel like Tony Martin could be seen as an underachiever. Early in his career it looked like he could become a rider for GC in the Grand Tours. 2009 he was on course for a Top10 spot before collapsing in the 3rd week, but then managed to recover to finish second on the Ventoux.
In 2011 he won Algarve and Paris-Nice, but after that it just seems like he got weaker on the climbs and focused more on TTs. I don't know if he ever had the ability to be more successful in GTs but it somehow feels like it. In about 2014 he tried again to improve his climbing. and he was very strong in the TdS and TdF that year, but that time also kind of feels like the end of his TT domination, with him losing to Wiggins in Ponferrada.
Going on he had a lot of problems with crashes and then thought it was a great idea to try and become a classics rider, which ultimately completely failed.
It just feels like he made a lot of wrong strategic decisions concerning his goals and what sort of rider he wanted to become. Add to that a fair share of bad luck and in the end his career feels a bit unfulfilled, despite winning 4 WC ITTs, multiple one-week stage races and a bunch of Grand Tour stages. Maybe, if he hadn't broken his hand in the 2012 Tour and subsequently won the olympic ITT this would all be a bit different. After all, pre 2016 he regularly mentioned how he was continuing to focus on ITTs to win the gold medal in Rio.
 
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An interesting one who was mentioned earlier is Gilbert as an overachiever. I think his career since 2012 is really unique. Before that he was argubly just as strong as he was succesful, but since then he was mostly very mediocre yet still won both the Ronde and Paris Roubaix, the latter basically the 2nd time he even tried to, which is super rare. Him going back to aiming for cobbles classics and winning the two most important ones almost right away despite clearly not being the strongest cobbles rider is in my opinion definitely overachieving. That said, Gilbert completely wasted many of his peak years at BMC where he could never fulfill his potential. So overall since 2012 Gilbert had a weird mixture of both over and underachieving which at the end means he is probably right where he should be.
He was the strongest rider in both races I'd say.
 
He was the strongest rider in both races I'd say.
I don't know. He twice benefitted from riding for the strongest team, which brought him into a postion where he didn't actually have to go up agsinst the big pre race favorites directly. And the preperation races in those years suggest that while he was in a good shape he wasn't necessarily the strongest rider.
Ask yourself, do you think if in 2017 Gilbert had arrived at the last Kwaremont ascent in a group of three with GVA and Sagan, would he still have won? Because I really struggle to see how he could have done so without any tactical shenanigans.
 
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I don't know. He twice benefitted from riding for the strongest team, which brought him into a postion where he didn't actually have to go up agsinst the big pre race favorites directly. And the preperation races in those years suggest that while he was in a good shape he wasn't necessarily the strongest rider.
Ask yourself, do you think if in 2017 Gilbert had arrived at the last Kwaremont ascent in a group of three with GVA and Sagan, would he still have won? Because I really struggle to see how he could have done so without any tactical shenanigans.
In RVV '17 he did a 50 km solo, and while he benefited from the crash, doing a 50 km solo at Ronde is very very hard, especially as we saw how Cancellara blew at 2011. If they had arrived to Kwaremont together? Well I don't know but he is a pretty decent sprinter and may have had something in the legs and could have a chance with right timing. ( Sagan's sprints are not the best after a long race for instance )
In PR '19 he simply looked very strong ( he dropped everyone except Politt who he easily beat in sprint ) but you may have a case for Lampaert ( was held back by Quick Step ) or Van Aert ( was too inexperienced ) too.
 
Yeah Nibs is more consistent. And while I do think his peak level is underrated, I don't think it matches up to Contador. 2014 Tour is weird cause the field in the end was so shocking but Nibali destroyed it so easily. That Tour is the battle we never saw.

As for Contador being lucky, he was clutch converting wins but really unclutch getting podiums.
About Contador, he never lost a GT where he was the strongest climber, but he won a couple of GTs where he was not the strongest climber ( Giro '08, Tour '10, Vuelta '12, Giro '15 )
Giro 2008 - Great TTs, on the stage to Fedaia he was dropped in Giau by a group of 15 riders or so but they did not push, Contador was much better in the final climb and limited his losses.
Tour 2010 - Schleck should have attacked at Avoriaz. Contador was very weak that day.
Vuelta 2012 - Weaker than Rodriguez in pretty much every climb, but a daring attack on stage 17 when Rodriguez had an off day and won the whole race ( I still think Rodriguez should have done something on the stage to Bola del Mundo, Contador was not good that day )
Giro 2015 - Massive gains in ITT, Landa held back in mountains

An extremely clutch rider, and obvious where he got the Great One nickname from.
 
About Contador, he never lost a GT where he was the strongest climber, but he won a couple of GTs where he was not the strongest climber ( Giro '08, Tour '10, Vuelta '12, Giro '15 )
Giro 2008 - Great TTs, on the stage to Fedaia he was dropped in Giau by a group of 15 riders or so but they did not push, Contador was much better in the final climb and limited his losses.
Tour 2010 - Schleck should have attacked at Avoriaz. Contador was very weak that day.
Vuelta 2012 - Weaker than Rodriguez in pretty much every climb, but a daring attack on stage 17 when Rodriguez had an off day and won the whole race ( I still think Rodriguez should have done something on the stage to Bola del Mundo, Contador was not good that day )
Giro 2015 - Massive gains in ITT, Landa held back in mountains

An extremely clutch rider, and obvious where he got the Great One nickname from.
Contador has had some clutch wins but I think he's underachieved in other ways so it largely evens out. I think Froome is a bigger overperformer than Contador.

2006: Brain injury, probably too young to get GT result anyway
2007: Obviously lucky to get Rasmussen taken out, but before that it was eerily similar to Nibali's 2019 Giro of giving 3 minutes to who turns out the best climber for free, while also having 2 crucial flats costing him an unkown amount of time. First Tour win, don't think it's a missed opportunity to ride a Tour/Vuelta double.

2008: Giro is what it is. He was consistently among around the 5th best climber on other mountain stages, and who was better fluctuated heavily. Gets screwed out of a very likely Tour win. Wins Vuelta putting time into the #2 on all 4 MTFs. Don't think it's overperforming much if at all.

2009: Best year of his career, only wins Tour + 2 stages. If anything that's underperforming. Giro/Tour double attempts weren't that rare and that terrible back then, and it would've been the golden opportunity for him to do it, unlike later years. Alternatively, could've done Tour/Vuelta and be a massive favorite to pull it off.

2010: TdF win, no stage wins. I think Avoriaz is over stated, he responeded to like 3/4 attacks in succession before Andy Schleck dropped him. I think this also ignores that Contador lost like a minute 20 on the cobbles at the expense of Fränk Schlecks collarbone.

2011: Nothing clutch about that Giro, could have won at least 2 more stages if he wasn't gifting them left, right and centre. Got his TdF chances wrecked by a crash. Without it is anyone's guess. Obviously there were reasons for Giro/Tour in the first place, but if he doesn't go to the Giro he's an overwhelming Tour favorite, as well as probably a Vuelta fave if he decides to go for it.

2012: Obviously only gets to ride Vuelta. TdF would have been somehwat interesting if he'd been able to ride, and fully dependent on in which form he'd have shown up. Fuente De is clutch yeah, but Rodriguez got dropped hard that day and I'm fairly sure Contador drops Purito there if he waits for the final climb. Shoutout to the fact he only won that stage cause he attacked the breakaway before the flat. Otherwise he would've never dropped them.

2013: Underperforms hugely all year. Schedule doesn't really matter, though might have eeked out a podium in Giro if he'd gone there, but whatever

2014: Obviously the Tour everyone wanted to see never happened. One Vuelta win was the bare minimum for how he was riding that year. As the Tour happened, I don't think he woudl've taken the 2 and a half minutes back from Nibali. Nibali was insane himself, the route wasn't that monstrous, and good luck dropping Nibali far from the finish without him catching up on the descent.

2015: Giro win wasn't particularly lucky/overperforming IMO. His level was good, but not amazing, and I wouldn't know if that was because they tried to do a Giro/Tour double. Would've had to ran into some pretty bad odds to lose that one. 2015 Tour is basically a scheduling horror show and he literally got nothing done that Tour, apart from one of his most hilarious attempts to follow Froome on an attack when it made no sense to try on La Toussuire.

2016: Crashed both GTs away. Not even a podium is really poor. Increasing tendency of trying desperately to follow Quintana only to blow up every time. One redeeming moment is burning the Vuelta down and being the kingmaker of that race.

2017: Similar to 2016, except he finished the Tour and just had the random sick (?) day at the Vuelta. Don't think it's that graet to only get one stage out of it. At this stage it's weird to see him fly in the 3rd week of the Vuelta after not showing that level in like 2 and a half years.

Don't think he would've won either Tour in 2016/2017, but IMO there was a non 0 chance and we never got to find out.

All in all, I think he mostly "underperformed" in terms of not riding as many GTs at the height of his power as he would do later. Could also have gotten a little more out of his schedule after he stopped dominating, but then you wouldn't assume/want him to do Giro/Vuelta every year either.

Just by form alone he could've won 5 Tours in a row from 2007-2011 but that's also stretching it a little bit. All in all, I think he was as close to winning more as he was to winning less.
 
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Good points there. His crashes in the latter years prevented him from some opportunities, like Tour '14 and '16. But whenever he was contending for the win from the start with no problems, he was winning.
And I agree that the crashes massively effected him at Tour '11. He could have done the double without all the crashes, the opposition was weak.
 
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Overachievers I'm suprised no one has said Leipheimer, Michael Rogers, or Fugslang.
Edit. And Ryder Hesjedal as an overachiever.
Apart from Hesjedal, the rest are definitely not overperformers.

Leipheimer had the qualities to win multiple GT's but has he actually ever won anything except ToC and TdS?

Dodgers had GT qualities as well but crashed out in 2007 Tour when he looked to get his breakthrough. Domestique with privileges since then.

Fuglsang has not had the stage racing career that was expected after his incredible debut in 2009. He has exceptionally many 2nd and 3rd places in big races and it is only in recent years that these almost-wins have been turned into wins.

Overachievers: Dan Martin, Terpstra, Nibali
Underachievers: Popovic, Porte, Brajkovic, Igor Anton, Kittel, Kreuziger
 
Apart from Hesjedal, the rest are definitely not overperformers.

Leipheimer had the qualities to win multiple GT's but has he actually ever won anything except ToC and TdS?

Dodgers had GT qualities as well but crashed out in 2007 Tour when he looked to get his breakthrough. Domestique with privileges since then.

Fuglsang has not had the stage racing career that was expected after his incredible debut in 2009. He has exceptionally many 2nd and 3rd places in big races and it is only in recent years that these almost-wins have been turned into wins.

Overachievers: Dan Martin, Terpstra, Nibali
Underachievers: Popovic, Porte, Brajkovic, Igor Anton, Kittel, Kreuziger
LS would be the better one to speak of Leipheimer and Rogers. Fuglsang was looking like a disappointment until his breakthrough (though I never thought highly of him or he'd top 10 another GT after the Vuelta one.
 
Overachiever: Peter Velits (he podiumed a GT remember?)
Underachiever: Romain Sicard (Might be wrong, but I didn't see him mentioned in this thread yet.)
Velits was such a WTF performance it makes me wonder if he's not a really big underachiever in everything outside that Vuelta.

Edit, yeah looks like an overachiever. His best climbing performance is actually 4th on AdH in the 2011 Tour. That Vuelta was mainly due to an insane TT.
 
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Christian Vande Velde is potentially a big underachiever. I've read the story a couple of times that he tested stronger than Armstrong in one of the internal tests in U.S. Postal during the times when they were team-mates but the doctors didn't dare to say the riders about that not to infuriate Armstrong.
Then when he actually became the team leader at Garmin he had a great Tour de France in his first year there but after that he was breaking bones 2 times a year on average and thus was completely unable to build on that and score more stand-out results.
 
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Igor Anton is a really good shout.

Leipheimer I never saw as this multiple GT winner. Just not enough uphill apart from maybe one stage.
Not calling Leipheimer an underachiever, but I think he undeniably had qualities (having the right skillset) to win a few Grand Tours. I suppose the podiums he has is indicative of this and I therefore would never classify him as an overachiever when you consider how little he actually won.
 
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Not calling Leipheimer an underachiever, but I think he undeniably had qualities (having the right skillset) to win a few Grand Tours. I suppose the podiums he has is indicative of this and I therefore would never classify him as an overachiever when you consider how little he actually won.
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.
 

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