Rough Attempt at an All-Time Ranking

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Saying FW is a sprint finish is too simplistic in my opinion and I can't agree with it. There's a reason we call riders, who get involved in sprints, sprinters. How many sprinters have won FW? Yes, there are riders like Sagan, MvdP, Matthews, who can do top5 in both and even win a bunch sprint occasionally, but those riders are rightfully regarded as more than just sprinters in the cycling world. And the same goes with other similar riders from the past who were contenders or even won FW.

The last edition has almost been won by the second best climber in the world atm. Is he even a top50 sprinter in the world? Yes he attacked 350m from the line, but I think we can all agree it's a different type of effort needed when attacking on 10+% slopes. It can take you almost a minute to cross the line, while in sprint finishes it would take 15-20s. The difference between the winner and 3rd place was 6 seconds, 5th place was 11 seconds behind. Not exactly what usually happens in sprint finishes.

So, even if lately there is usually a group of 30-40 riders starting Mur de Huy together, I don't think we should call it a sprint finish. Climbers are bigger contenders for the win than sprinters. It's a special kind of finish. Nothing wrong with calling it a finish for puncheurs, like toby said.
 
5. Gino Bartali - 988 points



Quote: “Everyone in their life has his own particular way of expressing life's purpose - the lawyer his eloquence, the painter his palette, and the man of letters his pen from which the quick words of his story flow. I have my bicycle.”

He's from the legendary era when professional cyclists still wore a backpack. He won the Tour and the Giro before and after World War II. During the war he worked for the Italian Resistance. In the Tour 1948 L'uomo di ferro won three successive Alpine stages, and finished 26 minutes ahead of Briek Schotte. In 1950 he left the Tour after being threatened by a French fan with a knife. He died of a heart attack in 2000.

2x Tour
3x Giro
4x Milan-San Remo
3x Giro di Lombardia
 
He won the Vuelta more times.

Also, he rode in an era where there were other good riders.

Jokes aside, imagine if WW2 hadn't made the cycling calendar lie dormant for five years in the middle of Bartali's and the beginning of Coppi's careers. Their stats could have been completely insane.
Coppi was more "lucky" that he turned 20 just when the war broke out and was still only 26 when racing resumed in the spring of '46, Bartali literally lost his prime, not even Thys with WWI lost so much.


Just look at Bartali situation for the Tour by his age:

*21 - not selected, was riding in Spain.
*22 - no italian team in the race.
*23 - crashed out in yellow after winning the first alpine stage.
*24 - won obliterating the field in the hardest alpine stage.
*25 - no italian team invited to the race.
*26 - no race.
*27 - no race.
*28 - no race.
*29 - no race.
*30 - no race.
*31 - no race.
*32 - no race.
*33 - no italian team invited to the race.
*34 - won in one of the most dominant showing ever seen, he won all five mountain stages of which three alpine stages in a row gaining half an hour over his closest rival and former leader Bobet in three days and also the Ardennes stage and another one, not happy with that he dropped everyone even on the cobbles en route to Roubaix in the second last stage, before puncturing and being catched by the first chase group, and attacked again also in the last stage.
*35 - 2nd after being forced to wait and work for Coppi and then being abandoned by the team car after a puncture while in yellow.
*36 - abandoned after the Aspin accident.
*37 - 4th.
*38 - 4th after working for Coppi.
*39 - 11th.
*40 - not starting.
 
Ah, Bartali. Perhaps my favorite rider of all. And probably the most underrated rider - he's often "forgotten" when all the talk is about Anquetil, Merckx, Coppi and Hinault. But Bartali was probably the rider whose career was affected the most by WW2, yet he still won the Tour twice and the Giro three times - both before and after the war.

But he's even more of a legend due to his work to help the jews during WW2.
 
4. Jacques Anquetil - 1043 points



Quote:”To prepare for a race there is nothing better than a good pheasant, some champaign and a good woman.”

This Frenchman's dominance in time trials earned him the nickname of Monsieur Chrono. He had the reputation of a cool mathematician, in contrast to his more flamboyant rival Poulidor. In the presence of journalists he posed with wine and cigarettes, but according to his wife he really had a disciplined lifestyle. He had good aerodynamics long before training in the wind tunnel was invented. In 1987 he died of stomach cancer at the age of fifty-three.

5x Tour
2x Giro
1x Vuelta
1x Liège-Bastogne-Liège
9x Grand Prix des Nations
 
Ah, Bartali. Perhaps my favorite rider of all. And probably the most underrated rider - he's often "forgotten" when all the talk is about Anquetil, Merckx, Coppi and Hinault. But Bartali was probably the rider whose career was affected the most by WW2, yet he still won the Tour twice and the Giro three times - both before and after the war.

But he's even more of a legend due to his work to help the jews during WW2.
Bartali, alias Ginettaccio, L’arcangelo della montagna, L’arrampicatore divino...». Exuberant, warrior and polemicist famous for his motto at the Tour when a stage didn't go to plan: "It's all wrong, it's all to be done over again! (È tutto sbagliato, è tutto da rifare)
 
3. Fausto Coppi - 1046 points



Quote: “Age and treachery will overcome youth and skill.”

Apparently Girardengo and Coppi were both nicknamed Il Campionissimo - to avoid confusion. After winning his first Giro Fausto became a soldier and a Prisoner of War during World War II. As an exceptional all-rounder he could win time trials, mountain stages and classics. His adulterous affair with the Woman in White caused a scandal in Catholic Italy. In 1960 he died of malaria at the age of forty. The highest peak in the Giro is named after him: the Cima Coppi.

2x Tour
5x Giro
1x world champion
3x Milan-San Remo
1x Paris-Roubaix
5x Giro di Lombardia
 
2. Bernard Hinault - 1293 points



Quote: “As long as I breathe, I attack.”

This Breton is the only one in the top 5 that I've seen racing live on TV, and he soon became a childhood hero. He was nicknamed Le Blaireau because his hair looked like a shaving brush. As a Tour debutant in 1978 Le Patron became the spokesman during a protest against having two split stages on the same day. In time trials he excelled, while in the mountains he was often grinding his teeth, showing will power. After his retirement he was present at the Tour ceremony for years. Nowadays he enjoys working on his farm.

5x Tour
3x Giro
2x Vuelta
1x world champion
1x Paris-Roubaix
2x Liège-Bastogne-Liège
2x Giro di Lombardia
5x Grand Prix des Nations
 
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1. Eddy Merckx - 2030 points



Quote: “Sometimes it’s strange being me. I travel the world meeting people, I’m surrounded by friends and my life is full, but all the time I am confronted by a young man I have nothing in common with. He is me, but he is not me now. In fact I have been me now for longer than I was him, but no one wants to know about me.”

There’s a lot of disagreement about which race is worth exactly how much, but whatever system you use, only one man can come out on top. His dominance from 1969 to 1974 remains unequaled. He could win on every terrain. Because of his hunger to win everything he was nicknamed the Cannibal. Belgian fans yelled at him: “Eddy, Eddy!” At the peak of his popularity he was in promotions for deep-frying fat and cigarettes. After his retirement he founded his own brand of bicycles. His most emotional reaction after a win was during the Giro 2000, when his son Axel won a stage. In Belgium he’s more famous than the king.

5x Tour
5x Giro
1x Vuelta
3x world champion
7x Milan-San Remo
2x Tour of Flanders
3x Paris-Roubaix
5x Liège-Bastogne-Liège
2x Giro di Lombardia
In short: an insane amount of races.
 
Thanks @Pantani_lives for this thread, surely a lot of work. Especially top30 was interesting. Most sensational result: grandpa Valverde topples Miguleon to enter top10! It's longevity vs level. Alejandro will still be riding his bike when unable to walk while Big Mig displayed maybe the highest level in GT history.

As for the all time ranking my spoiler is:
  1. Merckx
  2. Hinault
  3. Coppi
Sorry for that spoiler :p A deserving #1 and top3.
 

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