Rough Attempt at an All-Time Ranking

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Compared to 19... + 3 WCRR.

But okay, they combine for 19 (unofficial) Grand Tours against Merckx' 11.

I dunno, it seems a bit futile to discuss this, I guess.
Yeah. 199 monuments and 3 WC is *** mental.

It's just a way of highlighting how insane and utterly beyond reach he is.
In other sports you can always think there may be another Jordan, or Nicklaus etc. But because of the changing landscape of how cycling is raced now. Nobody is ever beating EM.
 
I honestly think you could combine any 3 pros since 2000 final palmares, and not match EM.
Eg would Froome, Contador and Nibali GC results outweigh their poor one day results?
Froome + Contador + Nibali = 1691 points
They would be second.

Valverde + Cancellara + Froome = 2076 points
That beats Merckx' score, but only just.

According to this ranking only three other riders can say they were half as good as Merckx.
 
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It's impossible that today with the technological, scientific and chemical advancements, not to mention the more global crop from which cycling has access to talents, a Merckx could be so successful. Of course, the opposite is also true that a rider today without the technological, scientific and chemical advancements, in a much more limited continental pool to rise through the ranks, would be capable of what Merckx achieved 50-60 years ago. The classical rebus.
 
I mean, I know it's difficult to find a perfect ranking system. But...I was discussing the other day with some posters in another thread about who between Roglič and Bernal has had a better career so far. Now tell me how is it possible that Bernal has a better career (according to some posters) when he doesn't even enter top150 in a ranking like this one, while on the other hand you have Roglič sitting in 36th position already? This ranking (and all other similar rankings based on a point system) shows it isn't all that close actually.

Although I'm a little surprised Bernal hasn't cracked the top150. He is probably very close and should enter the list in the near future. Are you going to update the list after every season @Pantani_lives ?
 
It's impossible that today with the technological, scientific and chemical advancements, not to mention the more global crop from which cycling has access to talents, a Merckx could be so successful. Of course, the opposite is also true that a rider today without the technological, scientific and chemical advancements, in a much more limited continental pool to rise through the ranks, would be capable of what Merckx achieved 50-60 years ago. The classical rebus.
I disagree....completely. See what Hinault did the next decade, what Pog beginning to do. Even today, with modern bikes, on short notice like Merckx did, how many can do 49.5 in an hour, let alone riding Merckx's '72 bike? How about beating Patrick Sercu in '74 in a velodrome to win the last stage of a Tour? Descending? Vincenzo bows to the master. It's unfair to compare anyone to Eddy. He's the Jordan of cycling. The Boonens and Cances, Sagan, or Froome*, great riders are nothing compared to him. But Pog is interesting. In the era of whatever advancements...he wins big. If he keeps winning, he'll be there with the bests of them.
 
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I disagree....completely. See what Hinault did the next decade, what Pog beginning to do. Even today, with modern bikes, on short notice like Merckx did, how many can do 49.5 in an hour, let alone riding Merckx's '72 bike? How about beating Patrick Sercu in '74 in a velodrome to win the last stage of a Tour? Descending? Vincenzo bows to the master. It's unfair to compare anyone to Eddy. He's the Jordan of cycling. The Boonens and Cances, Sagan, or Froome*, great riders are nothing compared to him. But Pog is interesting. In the era of whatever advancements...he wins big. If he keeps winning, he'll be there with the bests of them.
Merckx is one of the 2-3 greatest sportspeople in history, all sports combined, ever.

Off the top of my head, the only other person I can think of who is similarly anomalous is Sir Donald Bradman (cricket). For those who don't know the name, he averaged 100 runs for each time he batted. To put tha in perspective, an average of over 55 gets you into the running for the second greatest, while 40+ is expected of a decent international batsman.
 
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Time for some self ctiticism:

After reading all the comments I agree that there are some flaws in the system. Stage wins are the biggest problem. Maybe 1/10th of the GC win would be fair:

5 points for Tour stage
4 points for Giro stage
2 points for stage in Paris-Nice etc.
1 point for stage in smaller races.

Lower places in the GC should also be counted:
Tour top 10 GC: 50/25/10/8/6/5/4/3/2/1
Giro/Vuelta top 10 GC: 40/20/8/6/5/4/3/2/1/1
Paris-Nice top 3 GC: 20/10/5

That way the big sprinters would lose a few places, and climbers would get some extra points.

However I'm not going to do all that counting. An update for active riders once a year would be easy, but doing it thoroughly for the whole cycling history would be a lot of work. The biggest changes would be in the lower part of the ranking.

About Bernal: I was also surprised. He's currently at 165 points, so he's likely to make it next year.
 
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I disagree....completely. See what Hinault did the next decade, what Pog beginning to do. Even today, with modern bikes, on short notice like Merckx did, how many can do 49.5 in an hour, let alone riding Merckx's '72 bike? How about beating Patrick Sercu in '74 in a velodrome to win the last stage of a Tour? Descending? Vincenzo bows to the master. It's unfair to compare anyone to Eddy. He's the Jordan of cycling. The Boonens and Cances, Sagan, or Froome*, great riders are nothing compared to him. But Pog is interesting. In the era of whatever advancements...he wins big. If he keeps winning, he'll be there with the bests of them.
Indeed Pog is interesting, but can we expect him to win a combo such as this: 7 MSR, 3 Paris-Roubaix, 4 LBL, 5 Giros (5 Tours, perhaps, but not 5 + 5), no way sir. Not a chance. And this precisely confirms what I essentially said about Merckx's palmares being unassailable today. So the bolded statements appear contradictory in that you first claim to categorically disagree with me , but then go ahead to fundamentally confirm my point that it's not possible for a rider today to equal Merckx in the range and number of victories.

Hinault rose to the top very soon after Merckx's exit. The Badger was certainly a phenomenal rider, but, like Merckx, benefited from a sport still exclusively bound to European mores and tradition. GT riders still rode the classics. The Giro-Tour combo was frequently undertaken. Vuelta in April not September, etc. So there were not the giant peaks of performance today's riders plan for, which necessitates sacrificing certain events to reach a higher level of fitness for targeted races that has caused intensive specialization to progressively take over. It's thus inconceivable today that a rider could hold good enough form to be competitive from PN through the classics (MSR, cobbles and Ardennes), through the Giro and Tour to then finish with Worlds and Lombardia. But in those days with riders like Merckx and Hinault against fields that generally raced together from March till October it was. During Hinault's career things started to evolve, however, better physiological knowledge of training regimes, improvements in bike design and components (for example, clip pedals and shoes), the arrival of excellent non-continental European and non-European talents from Ireland, Great Britain, USA, Canada, Australia, Russia, Columbia and so forth. And then there was the stuff which can only be discussed in the Clinic. The sport begain to change dramatically as it continued to do though the 90's till the present.

I really don't see how you disagree with me, therefore, despite your assertion to the contrary.

Unless it has to do with the second part of my post in which I pondered over whether or not a talent of today if taken back to Merckx's time, with the same methods and equipment, would be able to duplicate what the Cannibal achieved. Frankly I have no idea, of course. But it's probable that because today the pool from which cyclists are drawn is global, there must be someone with an enginee as big, if not bigger, than Merckx's. Although this alone is no gaurantee of achieving so many winning results. Ineffable qualities of will, tenacity and tactical nous are likely almost as important. Arguably though based on the sheer aerobic and physiological traits in the 80s already Lemond had a bigger engine. Yet Lemond fell far, far short of Merckx's palmares and even Hinault's, who he certainly bettered at the Tour in 86 when the Badger, by all accounts, was in the best form of his career. True Lemond was likely hampered in the beginning as an American pioneer on a French team in a Euro dominated sport, at a momment when two incredible French champions were at the top of the sport: Hinault and Professor Fignon. So it was not easy for Greg initially to have his chances to shine, except at his first World's title while unsurprisingly riding on his national (not club) team. Then, of course, he almost was shot to death at the height of his powers. So an incredible amount of time and energy was necessary just to return to the top, at which point, however, the dawn of a new era was on the rise.

But I digress. To return to the main point, so whilst it's impossible to know if a cyclist today could go back to Merckx's era and be as succesful as the Cannibal, I bet there is someone in current cycling who has superior physiological capacities just because the pond is so much bigger ("big fish in a little pond" vs. big fish an an ocean sort of thing). Is that Pogacar? Could be or could be someone else of whom at present we are totally ignorant.
 
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I disagree....completely. See what Hinault did the next decade, what Pog beginning to do. Even today, with modern bikes, on short notice like Merckx did, how many can do 49.5 in an hour, let alone riding Merckx's '72 bike? How about beating Patrick Sercu in '74 in a velodrome to win the last stage of a Tour? Descending? Vincenzo bows to the master. It's unfair to compare anyone to Eddy. He's the Jordan of cycling. The Boonens and Cances, Sagan, or Froome*, great riders are nothing compared to him. But Pog is interesting. In the era of whatever advancements...he wins big. If he keeps winning, he'll be there with the bests of them.
Boardman heading to retirement and having osteoporosis beat Merckx hour record on a roughly the same bike and without the benefit of altitude.
 
I seem to remember Boardman's hour record in 2000 was indoors in Manchester, which gave him a big advantage in air resistance. Merckx' was in Mexico City, because of the altitude, but it was outdoors in windy conditions. So in spite of the bicycles being comparable the circumstances were very different.

When it comes to athletic ability Induráin and LeMond should be considered, perhaps Ullrich. I wonder what they could have done in Paris-Roubaix if they had made it a goal. LeMond was 4th at his debut in 1985.

Specialization and peaking towards big goals have changed the sport in the '90s, although in recent years we've seen the return of more all-round riders.
 
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Merckx is one of the 2-3 greatest sportspeople in history, all sports combined, ever.

Off the top of my head, the only other person I can think of who is similarly anomalous is Sir Donald Bradman (cricket). For those who don't know the name, he averaged 100 runs for each time he batted. To put tha in perspective, an average of over 55 gets you into the running for the second greatest, while 40+ is expected of a decent international batsman.

There are others. Look at Michael Phelps or Usain Bolt for recent examples. Lewis Hamilton maybe. And both Merckx and Bradman thrived in sports which had very few countries competing at the time. So let's throw Phil Taylor into the mix.

Cycling has been very parochial for much of it's existence. Coppi and Bartali went to the Tour and the World to show their worth, but their Giro. Lombardy and Sanremo wins were mostly Italian only affairs. In Merckx's day RVV and Roubaix typically had 7 or 8 Belgians in the top 10.
 
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I seem to remember Boardman's hour record in 2000 was indoors in Manchester, which gave him a big advantage in air resistance. Merckx' was in Mexico City, because of the altitude, but it was outdoors in windy conditions. So in spite of the bicycles being comparable the circumstances were very different.

When it comes to athletic ability Induráin and LeMond should be considered, perhaps Ullrich. I wonder what they could have done in Paris-Roubaix if they had made it a goal. LeMond was 4th at his debut in 1985.

Specialization and peaking towards big goals have changed the sport in the '90s, although in recent years we've seen the return of more all-tound riders.
To the bolded, Indurain is an intersting case. A prince on the bicycle to be sure, dignified and elegant, with power that was generated from his stature and long legs. Yet in his first years as a pro he finished 84th in the Vuelta, while in his first Tour abandoned after 4 stages (to put this into perspective Hinault and Fignon both won their first Tours, whereas Lemond finished third in his first attempt), although he did take the Tour d'Aveneir showing his great potential. True he was in the service of Delgado (oh how different was that epic, for today an up-and-coming with the right numbers would be thrust into the leadership role against tried veterens). His rise was ever so gradual working for Delgado who won the Tour in 88. Then in September of that year Indurain won the Volta Ciclista a Catalonya, thanks to a final timetrial. Propelling him was evidently an ecceptional heart rate, at 28/29 beats per minute rested, and a lung capcity of a phenomenal 8 liters. Why, then, was he not more precoscious? In 89 he won Paris-Nice and, from a long break while not being a favorite, won the mountain stage to Cauterets in the Tour. Again as a domestique of Delgado in the 1990 Tour de France, when his captain failed, Indurain won at Luz-Ardiden glued to the wheel of an unleashed Lemond (who won the edition) by just seconds, finishing in the top ten on GC for the first time. He also won his only classic at San Sebastian that year.

Then came the golden years against Chiappucci, Pantani, Berzin and Ugrimov....five Tours and 2 Giros later (doubles no less) and we are still talking about the mellow giant of Spain.
 
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To the bolded, Indurain is an intersting case. A prince on the bicycle to be sure, dignified and elegant, with power that was generated from his stature and long legs. Yet in his first years as a pro he finished 84th in the Vuelta, while in his first Tour abandoned after 4 stages although he did take the Tour d'Aveneir showing his great potential. True he was in the service of Delgado (oh how different was that epic, for today an up-and-coming with the right numbers would be thrust into the leadership role against tried veterens). His rise was ever so gradual working for Delgado who won the Tour in 88. Then in September of that year Indurain won the Volta Ciclista a Catalonya, thanks to a final timetrial. Propelling him was evidently an ecceptional heart rate, at 28/29 beats per minute rested, and a lung capcity of a phenomenal 8 liters. Why, then, was he not more precoscious? In 89 he won Paris-Nice and, from a long break while not being a favorite, won the mountain stage to Cauterets in the Tour. Again as a domestique of Delgado in the 1990 Tour de France, when his captain failed, Indurain won at Luz-Ardiden glued to the wheel of an unleashed Lemond (who won the edition) by just seconds, finishing in the top ten on GC for the first time. He also won his only classic at San Sebastian that year.

Then came the golden years against Chiappucci, Pantani, Berzin and Ugrimov....five Tours and 2 Giros later (doubles no less) and we are still talking about the mellow giant of Spain.
Indurain was a freak with an extreme oxygen uptake of 7 litres/min, which enabled him not only to crush ITTs but also to achieve Alpe time of 38' and stomp his rivals on La Plagne (while weighting almost 80 kg). Physically maybe most gifted cyclist in history (clinic aside, his rivals weren't innocent).
 
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Indurain was a freak with an extreme oxygen uptake of 7 litres/min, which enabled him not only to crush ITTs but also to achieve Alpe time of 38' and stomp his rivals on La Plagne (while weighting almost 80 kg). Physically maybe most gifted cyclist in history (clinic aside, his rivals weren't innocent).
Yea, but my point is that, with such phenomenal aerobic capcity (if it is not the stuff of Paul Bunyan), why did he not excel from his first years at the Tour the way Hinault, Fignon and Lemond did? I get the clinc stuff and we can't talk about it here. Whatever the case, to me his early career remains a mystery. Lemond, for example, also had phenomenal aerobic capacity with a Vo2 max of 92.4 (92,4 mlO2/kg/min - for a long time only a world class cross country skier measured higher) and, if he weren't American on a French team, may well have won his first Tour, but finished third, then second at his second attempt and finally first on his third attempt. Indurain was nowhere near that level during his early career.
 
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Indurain was a freak with an extreme oxygen uptake of 7 litres/min, which enabled him not only to crush ITTs but also to achieve Alpe time of 38' and stomp his rivals on La Plagne (while weighting almost 80 kg). Physically maybe most gifted cyclist in history (clinic aside, his rivals weren't innocent).
My problem with this is the Clinic landscape didn't benefit everyone equally. Look at the size of GT contenders in the 90s vs now. Even Big Tom would be 10kg less than Indurain.
 

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