Rough Attempt at an All-Time Ranking

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It simply doesn't make sense to say they are on a different fitness level. If they were, all the one-day races would just be theirs for the taking.
I think you are missing the point. It's not about being on a super peak of form for the targeted day, in which classics champions reach a level of fitness that may be equal to or greater than a Tour champion, if he happens to be competing in the race. But being able to hold a super peak of form for 21 stages, over the high mountains and tts, without having a really bad day.

So obviously being a Tour champion doesn't gaurantee just bagging all the one-day races, although in the past Tour champions like Merckx and Hinault especially could bag quite a few monuments (and win grand tours). But classics specialists could not do likewise in winning grand tours. That's because peaking for one day is one thing, maintaining an increadibly high level of fitness, without a major decline, over 21 days is entirely another. I find this to be the critical and decisive issue.

With the general higher level of fitness in modern cycling, however, the type of effort to excel in both the one-day races and the grand tours has lead to intensive specialization, because the one-day peaks of super fitness are higher, as is the level of form that's maintained for three weeks in the grand tours. The result has been that the one-day specialists and the grand tour specialists rarely ecounter eachother in the classics' seasons in modern cycling. Hopefully though this trend is changing. And the teams working with potential Tour contenders have been saying for years that to place high on gc there means total dedication to that goal, 12 months a year, otherwise failure is assured
 
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Interesting and generally I'd agree. But with the amount of easy'ish stages GC guys get to do between decisive mountain and TT stages and the recent penchant for leaving it until late on to launch attacks could it be argued that somebody like Gilbert who won all three Ardennes classics over the space of a week while riding hard from the get go in each actually attains just as high a level of peak fitness as somebody challenging for the GC in a grand tour?

Admittedly the parcours themselves are unlikely to be as hard as the big tour stages but in theory the racing itself could be much harder for a longer period of time mitigating some of the differences in terrain.
 
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Well, as has often been said, the Tour is like riding a classic every day for three weeks straight. I suppose this is an exaggeration, but I also guess it's said to emphasize just how hard the Tour is, that every single day in the Tour is really tough even the flat stages. Obviously some days are way tougher than others. Probably the stages going over 3 to 5 cols, also in the Giro and Vuelta, are the toughest courses in the sport especially during the third week. And not just for the gc guys, but those that really have to struggle to make the time cuts.

In addition to Gilbert, Rebellin won all three Ardennes classics in one year as well. Speaking of the Italian, I wouldn't consider him on the same level of a Tour champion.
 
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Well, as has often been said, the Tour is like riding a classic every day for three weeks straight. I suppose this is an exaggeration, but I also guess it's said to emphasize just how hard the Tour is, that every single day in the Tour is really tough even the flat stages. Obviously some days are way tougher than others. Probably the stages going over 3 to 5 cols, also in the Giro and Vuelta, are the toughest courses in the sport especially during the third week. And not just for the gc guys, but those that really have to struggle to make the time cuts.

In addition to Gilbert, Rebellin and, if I remember correctly, DiLuca won all three Ardennes classics in one year as well. Speaking of the Italians, I wouldn't consider them on the same level of a Tour champion.
You don't remember correctly...
 
In fact, I wasn't sure about DiLuca and honestly have no idea why I thought that, other than perhaps him winning Liege and confusing him with Gilbert in the moment. Corrected
It was Rebellin who won all 3 Ardennes races in one season. As for the TDF being a classic each day, how many Monuments finish with the entire field still fully intact for the finish? because it happens a lot in GTs. The biggest issue on those stages is stress from trying to stay out of trouble rather than actual racing.
 
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It was Rebellin who won all 3 Ardennes races in one season. As for the TDF being a classic each day, how many Monuments finish with the entire field still fully intact for the finish? because it happens a lot in GTs. The biggest issue on those stages is stress from trying to stay out of trouble rather than actual racing.
Right, I just hadn't recalled that DiLuca won them in different years.

It's just evidently a way of emphasizing how hard the Tour is, apparently for dramatic effect. But you have to consider the hardest stages with the most elevation, of which you might encounter multiple back-to- back, not the bunch sprints. But even on the "easy" days for the GC guys, the so-called transfer stages aren't exactly short spins to rest up the legs for the next onslaught of suffering. This is further compounded as you say by the stress of staying out of trouble, a component that training rides between Monuments doesn't have. The entire affair is truly a grueling war of attrition played out in the summer heat for three weeks on end.
 
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Well, as has often been said, the Tour is like riding a classic every day for three weeks straight. I suppose this is an exaggeration, but I also guess it's said to emphasize just how hard the Tour is, that every single day in the Tour is really tough even the flat stages. Obviously some days are way tougher than others. Probably the stages going over 3 to 5 cols, also in the Giro and Vuelta, are the toughest courses in the sport especially during the third week. And not just for the gc guys, but those that really have to struggle to make the time cuts.

In addition to Gilbert, Rebellin won all three Ardennes classics in one year as well. Speaking of the Italian, I wouldn't consider him on the same level of a Tour champion.
It's a phrase made up to overvalue the toughness of the Tour compared to other races.
 
It's a phrase made up to overvalue the toughness of the Tour compared to other races.
Really?

So you don't think this stage required a fitness level superior to that of the meagre classics riders to complete?

 
Really?

So you don't think this stage required a fitness level superior to that of the meagre classics riders to complete?

You don't understand Toby they "ride the flat stages harder"

Average speed of this stage 3km/h slower than the Covadonga stage of this Vuelta by the way
 
Really?

So you don't think this stage required a fitness level superior to that of the meagre classics riders to complete?

Clearly the exception that proves the rule!
 
Really?

So you don't think this stage required a fitness level superior to that of the meagre classics riders to complete?

Poels lost almost two minutes and he's a Monument winner so...
 
Nah it's true. Remember that epic day where Sepp Kuss averaged like 80 watts for an hour and a half during a Tour stage
Ha, ha, ha...just remember an interview of Davis Phinney right after I think a rolling stage at the 86 Tour, inebriated and giddy with fatigue, which must have been after the 10 day mark. He said something to the effect of..."Ha, ha, ha, oh boy, man that was tough...ha, ha, ha...The Tour de France is 100 times longer, 100 times faster, 100 times harder than any other race on the planet...ha, ha, ha....it's just incredible!"

Surely he was exaggerating, but was nonetheless being sincere.

PS. I realize Phinney didn't say exactly that, but the sentiment was the same.
 
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It's a phrase made up to overvalue the toughness of the Tour compared to other races.
I think it also has to do with the toughness of competition each stage presents, among the various categories to get a win, or to get into a winning break for the stage hunters, etc. In this sense, perhaps, each day is "like a classic." For many a stage win has the same weight in terms of gauranteeing a new contract.
 
Is a Tour like riding a classic every day, or maybe riding a Monument every day? It's not the same level of hardness, I mean...
Some days in the Tour are at the same level of hardness, if not moreso. But a classic or a Monument lasts one day, the Tour 21...let's say we treat the Tour in monolithic terms (just humor me), in which three weeks is like one day, well you'd get a similar script between "quite times" and "intensive moments", building up to a crescendo but just way more continuous.
 
Whilst I tend to lean towards Extinction's rating of GT winner > monument winner; I think his arguments are some way off the mark. The main reason is slipstream. The main reason why GT winners triumph in the general classification in the Giro, Tour or Vuelta isn't because they have the ability to race 21 days without a bad day (or at least this isn't the main reason). It's because they are the best climbers, and it is the mountains where the biggest time gaps will always be made (due to lack of slipstream). Well, in ITT's too, but they are far less in quantity to mountains climbed.

If you wanted to compare say, Sagan and Thomas more accurately; instead of time taken on each stage, you'd take placings. Peak Sagan might lose five minutes (and place top 30) on a mountain stage if it was worth his while racing for (instead of twenty minutes). Only hypothetically of course.

I know that my point can be made in a better way....someone please help.
 
Whilst I tend to lean towards Extinction's rating of GT winner > monument winner; I think his arguments are some way off the mark. The main reason is slipstream. The main reason why GT winners triumph in the general classification in the Giro, Tour or Vuelta isn't because they have the ability to race 21 days without a bad day (or at least this isn't the main reason). It's because they are the best climbers, and it is the mountains where the biggest time gaps will always be made (due to lack of slipstream). Well, in ITT's too, but they are far less in quantity to mountains climbed.

If you wanted to compare say, Sagan and Thomas more accurately; instead of time taken on each stage, you'd take placings. Peak Sagan might lose five minutes (and place top 30) on a mountain stage if it was worth his while racing for (instead of twenty minutes). Only hypothetically of course.

I know that my point can be made in a better way....someone please help.
No help required. Thanks, points well taken. Now I think this is an interesting conversation.

Well you can have a bad day, as they all more or less do, just not on a day that counts for GC. This certainly means the mountains and the tts, but can mean other insidious stages too. Being among the best climbers is a must, of course, because there is no hidding, no drafting and gravity is a ***. The cols are a dimension, furthermore, to test riders' abilities, which the classics lack. Naturally I'm making a point, not denegrating one-day races. But it is what it is.

As far as Sagan and Thomas are concerned, I doubt Sagan even with his most concerted effort to do as well as possible, would finish within 5 minutes of Thomas on a finish at Alpe d'Huez, with the Galibier and who knows what else before, on the stage in which the GC riders are going for the potentially decisive kill. But I can imagine Thomas battling Sagan in Flanders or Roubaix for the win.
 
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