puncheurs\hilly classics specialists

Aug 2, 2010
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from the top of my head:

bettini, rebelin, di luca, paolini, boogerd, bartoli, VDB, armstrong, valverde etc.

it has been like this since cycling turned trully professional, but what happened to this generation?

sorry, i only see gilbert and kolobnev.

bettini was the best and had at least one guy at his level as his main rival (bartoli first, then valverde) but there where 2nd tiers that could win very often\or at least be up there.

looking at this generation and what do we see?

gilbert as the only one, and when he loses, he loses to GT riders that dont even focus in that at 100%.

this is maybe the most important reason for gilbert's success.

some reasonable explanation to why this happened? this is more obvious than the lack of sprinters.
 
Di Luca and Valverde aren't GT riders?

We have Cunego - his GT ability was skewed by one suspect performance (that he's more or less flagged himself) on a weak route. Van Avermaet could become one. Gilbert is a classics all-rounder it seems, similar to Chavanel but much better. Paul Martens is reasonable and eyes should be kept peeled for Ben Hermans - his breakthrough performance in the '09 Vuelta a Burgos was beating Valverde on a short, steep finish - exactly the kind Valverde excels at. He couldn't quite chase down J-Rod, but it was a real eye opener.
 
c&cfan said:
from the top of my head:

bettini, rebelin, di luca, paolini, boogerd, bartoli, VDB, armstrong, valverde etc.

it has been like this since cycling turned trully professional, but what happened to this generation?

sorry, i only see gilbert and kolobnev.

bettini was the best and had at least one guy at his level as his main rival (bartoli first, then valverde) but there where 2nd tiers that could win very often\or at least be up there.

looking at this generation and what do we see?

gilbert as the only one, and when he loses, he loses to GT riders that dont even focus in that at 100%.

this is maybe the most important reason for gilbert's success.

some reasonable explanation to why this happened? this is more obvious than the lack of sprinters.
Honestly, i think it's more a coincident then anything else.
 
Jul 16, 2010
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LBL 2000

1 Paolo Bettini Mapei - Quick Step 6u28'32"
2 David Etxebarria Alkorta O.N.C.E. - Deutsche Bank z.t
3 Davide Rebellin Liquigas - Pata z.t
4 Wladimir Belli Fassa Bortolo op 10"
5 Axel Merckx Mapei - Quick Step op 12

LBL 2002

1 Paolo Bettini Mapei - Quick Step 6u39'44"
2 Stefano Garzelli Mapei - Quick Step z.t
3 Ivan Basso Fassa Bortolo op 15"
4 Mirko Celestino Saeco - Macchine Per Caffe op 23"
5 Massimo Codol Lampre - Daikin op 28

If anything, today's competition is a bit bigger. Bettini never faced Bartoli in his prime.
 
Aug 18, 2009
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Solution: invite more Itaian conti teams: Androni for a start. Not going to harm the races` reputations anyway.

But there is a lot of overlap between hilly day racers and GC riders. Not necessarily a problem.
 
Feb 25, 2010
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c'mon CandC
What about J-Rod, Evans and Cunego(not so good this year and last year)? But all three of them are really good on these short steep hills.
 
Mar 13, 2009
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I don't know if he is necessarily elite, but Simon Gerrans is the prototypical ardennes rider.

Also maybe Enrico Gasporatto to a lesser extent
 
Jul 16, 2010
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Since when is Luca Paolini a hilly classics specialist by the way? He never did anything in the Ardennes lol. He was Bettini's super domestique. Never challenged for the win in most classics he rode.
 
Jan 7, 2011
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Rodriguez is a hilly classic specialist over a gt rider and a very good one.

But yes you're right - most challengers are GC riders first - I suppose it suits the same kind of rider but that doesn't mean they can't be good classics riders as well. Samu and the Schlecks are usually there or there abouts but not care as much.

There are hilly classics specialists but its weird because there is one great one and the rest are mediocre. Gerrans and Martens are both a couple of tiers below Gilbert. LLS should be but his performances are bizarre. Cunego is but had a horrid year.
I think perhaps its less fashionable to aim for hilly classics than to finish 8th in Gt? Does anyone think if Bettini/rebellin had gone for GTs they could have top 10ed. Someone like Hesjedal has managed it.
 
Jan 7, 2011
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Interestingly on those 2000 and 2002 list there are lot of Italians who these days seem more concerned with preparing for the Giro
 
Jul 16, 2010
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Sparta said:
Rodriguez is a hilly classic specialist over a gt rider and a very good one.

But yes you're right - most challengers are GC riders first - I suppose it suits the same kind of rider but that doesn't mean they can't be good classics riders as well. Samu and the Schlecks are usually there or there abouts but not care as much.

There are hilly classics specialists but its weird because there is one great one and the rest are mediocre. Gerrans and Martens are both a couple of tiers below Gilbert. LLS should be but his performances are bizarre. Cunego is but had a horrid year.
I think perhaps its less fashionable to aim for hilly classics than to finish 8th in Gt? Does anyone think if Bettini/rebellin had gone for GTs they could have top 10ed. Someone like Hesjedal has managed it.
Both Rebellin and Bettini have top 10ed in a GT.
 
Bettini did it at the 1998 Giro (7th) mostly thanks to breakaways, but Rebellin started his career as a GT prospect and was top 10 both at the Giro and the Vuelta in 1996. Then he moved to Française des Jeux and found out he was better at the hilly classics.
 
Jan 7, 2011
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Both Rebellin and Bettini have top 10ed in a GT.
Thanks for that. Proves my point really. Anyone who is good enough to dominate hilly classics is probably good enough to top 10 in a GT - i think Gilbert could if he put his mind to it. I just feel maybe these days for young riders it is seen as better to focus on GTs even if you're in the lower reaches of the top 10 then to go all out for the hilly classics. Just a thought
 
Yeah, most good hilly one-day riders go for GTs as well, but they do so because they can.

Visconti is a potential non-GT guy, but while he's had a couple of good GdL results he hasn't shown anything in the Ardennes yet. Obviously part of the reason is a lack of invites for his team the last 3 years. They did finally get an invite for Amstel this year but of course he gets the flu leading up to the race.

At this point though, I guess you have to say he's racked up most of his wins against weaker fields and hasn't yet proven he can compete for the podium against the top fields in these races.

Edit: I see Altitude beat me with his Visconti mention.
 
Jul 16, 2010
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jaylew said:
Yeah, most good hilly one-day riders go for GTs as well, but they do so because they can.

Visconti is a potential non-GT guy, but while he's had a couple of good GdL results he hasn't shown anything in the Ardennes yet. Obviously part of the reason is a lack of invites for his team the last 3 years. They did finally get an invite for Amstel this year but of course he gets the flu leading up to the race.

At this point though, I guess you have to say he's racked up most of his wins against weaker fields and hasn't yet proven he can compete for the podium against the top fields in these races.
He was pretty good at Tirreno-Adriatico for a hilly classics specialist.
 
Sparta said:
Thanks for that. Proves my point really. Anyone who is good enough to dominate hilly classics is probably good enough to top 10 in a GT - i think Gilbert could if he put his mind to it. I just feel maybe these days for young riders it is seen as better to focus on GTs even if you're in the lower reaches of the top 10 then to go all out for the hilly classics. Just a thought
You can put it the other way around as well.
Anyone who is a real GT contendor can probably do a good hilly classic if everything goes right...

I mean the proof of that is everywhere. Even if you're completely non-explosive climber... (re gesink 3rd in amstel and 4th in fleche, basso's LBL performances in the past, etc)
 
Jan 7, 2011
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Dekker_Tifosi said:
You can put it the other way around as well.
Anyone who is a real GT contendor can probably do a good hilly classic if everything goes right...

I mean the proof of that is everywhere. Even if you're completely non-explosive climber... (re gesink 3rd in amstel and 4th in fleche, basso's LBL performances in the past, etc)
But that's my point there is that big overlap and I'm suggesting that maybe GCs are becoming the focus for all the riders in that overlap whereas some of them may be better suited to hilly classics.

For example both Bettini and Contador are pretty much at opposite ends of the spectrum. Both have top 10ed hilly classics and GTs but its pretty their both far more suited to different ones. Maybe nowadays riders nearer Bettini's end of the spectrum are focussing more on GTs. Its just a theory.
 
Jul 16, 2010
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But Contador said he really really likes to win a classic someday as it would make his palmares more complete against the greats. So there's only an overlap if you want to do good at the Giro with a course like this.

But he has a pollen allergy + the doping case. In Belgium it was literally raining pollen during the Ardennes week. Everything was covered in a yellow dust here lol, it was that bad...

The best GT contenders can focus on the hilly classics as most of them do the Tour anyway(perfectly combinable). LBL is probably the race Andy cares second most for.
 
El Pistolero said:
He was pretty good at Tirreno-Adriatico for a hilly classics specialist.
Yeah, he's definitely got the potential, but I think a stronger team would help him get better results in the big races. I don't remember exactly how those races unfolded but it may not be a coincidence that his two good GdL performances were when he was with Quickstep.

Speaking of QS, I remember when Visconti was with them and Bettini was grooming him to be his replacement as Italian one-day star. For some reason I didn't really like him back then but I don't remember why. I'm hoping he steps up to his parent squad at Lampre next year.
 
LBL is the classic where any good climber can conceivably get a top 10. For as long as I can remember it's been the race where pure classics specialists and GT riders collide (like San Sebastian, but with a field 10 times as strong).

For example, in the 1995 LBL Bugno (arguably not a GT rider anymore) was 2nd and Chiappucci 8th, and in 1997 Leblanc was 4th, Pantani 8th and Madouas 9th. In 1994, Berzin was 1st, Chiappucci 4th, Della Santa 5th and Rominger 6th.

This year, non-GT/climbers in the top 10 include Gilbert (1st), Van Avermaet (7th) and Leukemans (9th). Last year, there were Kolobnev (2nd), Gilbert (3rd) and Voeckler (10th). In 2009, it was Rebellin (3rd), Gilbert (4th), Ivanov (5th), Gerrans (6th), Cunego (7th), Vaugrenard (8th) and Kolobnev (9th).

So, in the whole, it would seem there's indeed less classics specialists around. But when I see some of the names who were up there in the 90s... I can't help but think many were quite big to be going up hills the way they did (say, Sciandri). So there's also that.
 
Jan 7, 2011
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El Pistolero said:
But Contador said he really really likes to win a classic someday as it would make his palmares more complete against the greats. So there's only an overlap if you want to do good at the Giro with a course like this.

But he has a pollen allergy + the doping case. In Belgium it was literally raining pollen during the Ardennes week. Everything was covered in a yellow dust here lol, it was that bad...

The best GT contenders can focus on the hilly classics as most of them do the Tour anyway(perfectly combinable). LBL is probably the race Andy cares second most for.
I would agree with that it certainly isn't impossible to do both and many do very well in both. But that is what the OP is saying - there are very few hilly classic specialists most of the top finishers are GT riders - but why are they consider GT riders not hilly classics riders - because its more fashionable?
And although they do do very well, I may be wrong but I don't think that many of them were preparing in the meticulous way Gilbert did with his first part of the season solely focussed on them. This is a massive opinion but if the tour got cancelled and they rode LBL in July instead I think Andy Schleck would have put up a much better fight against Gilbert. Similarly Samu was incredible at the olympics, however he has been incosistent since - grand tours have been his main goal.

Another example is Evans - many people on here hacve recently been saying he should have focussed on being a hilly classics rider earlier in his career and would have got more big wins if he had - again this he skipped them due to a slight injury wouldn't have happened if it had been the tour coming up.
 
Jul 16, 2010
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Sparta said:
I would agree with that it certainly isn't impossible to do both and many do very well in both. But that is what the OP is saying - there are very few hilly classic specialists most of the top finishers are GT riders - but why are they consider GT riders not hilly classics riders - because its more fashionable?
And although they do do very well, I may be wrong but I don't think that many of them were preparing in the meticulous way Gilbert did with his first part of the season solely focussed on them. This is a massive opinion but if the tour got cancelled and they rode LBL in July instead I think Andy Schleck would have put up a much better fight against Gilbert. Similarly Samu was incredible at the olympics, however he has been incosistent since - grand tours have been his main goal.

Another example is Evans - many people on here hacve recently been saying he should have focussed on being a hilly classics rider earlier in his career and would have got more big wins if he had - again this he skipped them due to a slight injury wouldn't have happened if it had been the tour coming up.
I'd say most GT contenders prepare better for LBL than Gilbert. Most of them don't ride Milan-San Remo, the Ronde van Vlaanderen, Gent-Wevelgem, Brabantse Pijl, etc
At least the ones doing the Tour. Or just the Vuelta.

In fact, Gilbert is one of the first since a while to have won LBL without going to Pais Vasco or some other one week stage race.

Gilbert already starts peaking in March. How many people can hold a peak for so long? :)

And I think Gilbert will get better results at the Tour than most GT contenders there this year(stage wins, yellow jersey,etc) :p

Andy sucked hard at Clasica San Sebastian by the way last year. And that's just a week after the Tour.
 
Jan 7, 2011
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El Pistolero said:
I'd say most GT contenders prepare better for LBL than Gilbert. Most of them don't ride Milan-San Remo, the Ronde van Vlaanderen, Gent-Wevelgem, Brabantse Pijl, etc
At least the ones doing the Tour. Or just the Vuelta.

In fact, Gilbert is one of the first since a while to have won LBL without going to Pais Vasco or some other one week stage race.

Gilbert already starts peaking in March. How many people can hold a peak for 2 months? :)
I mean in terms of mental preparation. There was an article on the main website which i can't be bothered to find which talked about his mental preparation, who he was completely focused didn't do any interviews in the lead up etc... I remember reading an interview somewhere with Schleck saying he was relaxed - looking for good results just with no pressure.
 
There have been a few editions where GT riders did well in the Amstel too Hrotha, especially since it's on the Cauberg.
Also on the old, flatter course by the way, guys like Riis winning...)
Not so much as LBL though... but still
Always a couple of guys who do a top 10 in a GT up there.

The thing GT contendors are really invisble in these days, are cobbled classics.
And that was WAY different in the past
 

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