State of the peloton 2021

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  • This one is the one that is going to get me some heat but it has to be said. I am Colombian and I know that I'll get my strong responses but I'll take them. How many Slovenians there are in the WT circuit? what is the history of Slovenian cycling? do you think that's not important? think again. You cannot simply get 2 riders from a country with no tradition and no history at all and all of a sudden and be beating everyone. It would be a huge coincidence. What do you think people in Slovenia are thinking? "Wow there is no competition in cycling" "Cycling is so easy" "I can't believe we are so good at it". What is next Pogacar doing 35 minutes in Alpe D'Huez and people asking for proof of doping?? I think there was a reason for the coaches for taking the power meters off his TT last year and is to toss the smoking gun away. And the excuses like we want him to focus solely on the bike. I saw Bernal elaborating a lot in that climb in Tirreno and I thought his back is bugging him again. But he has been riding very good until then. And the next day he recuperated very well. I think there is more to the story about his numbers. Later I saw that Pogacar had taken 2 minutes off the record. That is bananas.
I'm pasting it here, because it's actually a reply to a post in this thread:

What exactly is the premise here? That the Slovenians have something that nobody else has? That's laughable. If they are on something, be sure that all the more powerful nations in cycling have it, too. Why Mohoric, who was btw a junior and U23 World Champion in consecutive years, isn't suddenly a World beater. Why the other Slovenians are nothing more than domestiques in their teams with an occasional stage win here and there? This is more of a trainer issue and team/team doctor issue if there is an issue. My first point.

My second point. The notion that Slovenia has no cycling tradition is false. In my deleted long post, I went more into details, but I'm not going to write it all again. Anyway, even in the former Yugoslavia, Slovenian cycling had the leading positions among Yugoslavian republics in the 70s and 80s. In the 80s and 90s it was closely linked to Italian cycling, meaning almost every cyclist that went Pro, went to an Italian team first. Every decade there were better and better cyclist coming out of Slovenia. From Jure Pavlic, Primoz Cerin (btw a close friend and advisor of Roglic), Gorazd Stangelj, Andrej Hauptman (bronze medalist in 2001 WC RR), Uros Murn, Tadej Valjavec, Jani Brajkovic, Simon Spilak to the ones active today with Matej Mohoric, Pogi and Rogla leading the way. In 2017 there were 13 Slovenian cyclists in the World Tour, the most ever. Today there are 7. It's a small number in absolute terms, but if you consider Slovenia's population, it becomes a big number in relative terms. But the number is still comparable (and doesn't stick out) to the number of Slovenians in top teams in the early 00s for example. It's just that you didn't have the Roglics and Pogacars of this World but the Mohorics, Tratniks, Mezgecs and Boles in the figure of Klemencic, Podgornik, Derganc, Murn, Hauptman, Stangelj etc.

Another couple of things important for the rise of Slovenian cycling are the creation of Tour of Slovenia in the early 90s and the stability of it's most important club Adria Mobil. Almost all the best Slovenian cyclist who became professionals in the last 20 years, went through Adria Mobil and then traded to a WT or ProConti team. Pogacar is a rare exception. He never rode for Adria but went from his team Ljubljana Gusto Xaurum (Rog-Ljubljana) straight to UAE.

There is also a cycling culture in Slovenia. You can see a lot of cyclist on the roads in every part of the country. The roads are mostly good, the terrain is very hilly and mountainous with lots of climbs. Also the amateur scene is pretty strong with lots of amateur races on those climbs. It's been this way for decades now.

If I go back in time again for a decade or so. In the late 00s and early 10s, there were very strong junior and U23 Slovenian national teams, that were comparable to the strongest teams of more traditional cycling nations. Teams when Brajkovic, Spilak, Mohoric all got a medal, Kump got a 6th place and Pibernik got 5th or 6th, Bole was also up there I think. Those were all strong teams in junior and/or U23 WC RR races. It shows solid work in Slovenian clubs' youth cycling movement.

All I've mentioned above of course is not at all comparable to the tradition of cycling nations like Belgium or Italy or France etc. But does this mean that Champions in this sport should come only from countries with big tradition? Why? Cycling has been steadily improving in Slovenia since the 80s. Is 40 years not enough long of a time span to produce a World class rider or two? Is it because there are two of them at the same time? Mind you, they are not the same generation. There is 10 years between them. This could very well be a coincidence. 10 years ago, we already had a similar situation with Brajkovic and Spilak. They weren't top of the top like Pog&Rog are right now. But they both could win a WT stage race at the same time and they did, in 2010. One won Romandie, the other Dauphine.

Another important point...
There is a very big tradition in sports in general in Slovenia. When I think of Slovenia, I think of a sport's nation. If you ask all the inhabitants, they'll probably answer you the same. We are mostly proud of our achievements in sport, and there are more than just few. It's not a coincidence Slovenia is often at the top of the list in medals per capita at almost every Olympics, summer or winter. Traditionally Slovenians are best known for winter sports (alpine skiing, ski jumping) and basketball. But in the last 30 years (since independence) there have been champions in handball, gymnastics, ice hockey, cross country, football, skiing, biathlon, rowing, sailing, volleyball, judo, motocross, athletics, sport climbing and the before mentioned ski jumping, alpine skiing and basketball. In all of those sports and probably some I missed, there was a sportsman/woman or a team from Slovenia that was at the top of the world or very close to it for some period of time in their respective sport or discipline. It was only a matter of time for a cycling champion to appear. And like I explained before. Cycling in Slovenia didn't start with Roglic, but way before.

There you have it. I hope it helps with some answers. I'm not saying they are doping or not doping. I just wanted to point out that it's not such a random occurrence for a top cyclist or two to come from Slovenia as it seems. They both also have had completely different paths to the position they are now. Roglic came from another sport in which he was one of the best prospects in the World, but a heavy crash messed with his plans and he lost motivation because he couldn't achieve his goal of becoming the best. He switched to cycling because he liked it and because at the time he was already winning amateur races. He was 22 at the time and had to learn absolutely everything of the sport. He's been steadily improving since then and is still improving. It's unbelievable but that's true. Every single year of his career he's been better than the previous one. A trajectory as steady as it gets. I challenge you, or anybody, to find and show me a rider (from whatever era) that has made as steady of a progression as Roglic has in the last 9 years.

Pogacar on the other hand has always been a prodigy of the sport. He started training when he was 11 and soon competed with cyclists 2 years older than him, but looked 5 years older than him, yet he was winning races. He went toe to toe with riders like Majka, Visconti and Haig in 2017 Tour of Slovenia when he finished 5th at 18yo. Next year he was 4th and won Tour de l'Avenir among other races. The rest is history.

I remember a press conference in 2018, I think, where Roglic jokingly said out loud: "Pogi you should wait a couple of years before going Pro, because you'll start winning immediately and there will be nothing left for the rest of us." Those words were so true.

Again doping, no doping, I don't know. All I'm sure is, there is no special magic potion that only Roglic and Pogacar use and no one else.
 
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I'm pasting it here, because it's actually a reply to a post in this thread:

What exactly is the premise here? That the Slovenians have something that nobody else has? That's laughable. If they are on something, be sure that all the more powerful nations in cycling have it, too. Why Mohoric, who was btw a junior and U23 World Champion in consecutive years, isn't suddenly a World beater. Why the other Slovenians are nothing more than domestiques in their teams with an occasional stage win here and there? This is more of a trainer issue and team/team doctor issue if there is an issue. My first point.

My second point. The notion that Slovenia has no cycling tradition is false. In my deleted long post, I went more into details, but I'm not going to write it all again. Anyway, even in the former Yugoslavia, Slovenian cycling had the leading positions among Yugoslavian republics in the 70s and 80s. In the 80s and 90s it was closely linked to Italian cycling, meaning almost every cyclist that went Pro, went to an Italian team first. Every decade there were better and better cyclist coming out of Slovenia. From Jure Pavlic, Primoz Cerin (btw a close friend and advisor of Roglic), Gorazd Stangelj, Andrej Hauptman (bronze medalist in 2001 WC RR), Uros Murn, Tadej Valjavec, Jani Brajkovic, Simon Spilak to the ones active today with Matej Mohoric, Pogi and Rogla leading the way. In 2017 there were 13 Slovenian cyclists in the World Tour, the most ever. Today there are 7. It's a small number in absolute terms, but if you consider Slovenia's population, it becomes a big number in relative terms. But the number is still comparable (and doesn't stick out) to the number of Slovenians in top teams in the early 00s for example. It's just that you didn't have the Roglics and Pogacars of this World but the Mohorics, Tratniks, Mezgecs and Boles in the figure of Klemencic, Podgornik, Derganc, Murn, Hauptman, Stangelj etc.

Another couple of things important for the rise of Slovenian cycling are the creation of Tour of Slovenia in the early 90s and the stability of it's most important club Adria Mobil. Almost all the best Slovenian cyclist who became professionals in the last 20 years, went through Adria Mobil and then traded to a WT or ProConti team. Pogacar is a rare exception. He never rode for Adria but went from his team Ljubljana Gusto Xaurum (Rog-Ljubljana) straight to UAE.

There is also a cycling culture in Slovenia. You can see a lot of cyclist on the roads in every part of the country. The roads are mostly good, the terrain is very hilly and mountainous with lots of climbs. Also the amateur scene is pretty strong with lots of amateur races on those climbs. It's been this way for decades now.

If I go back in time again for a decade or so. In the late 00s and early 10s, there were very strong junior and U23 Slovenian national teams, that were comparable to the strongest teams of more traditional cycling nations. Teams when Brajkovic, Spilak, Mohoric all got a medal, Kump got a 6th place and Pibernik got 5th or 6th, Bole was also up there I think. Those were all strong teams in junior and/or U23 WC RR races. It shows solid work in Slovenian clubs' youth cycling movement.

All I've mentioned above of course is not at all comparable to the tradition of cycling nations like Belgium or Italy or France etc. But does this mean that Champions in this sport should come only from countries with big tradition? Why? Cycling has been steadily improving in Slovenia since the 80s. Is 40 years not enough long of a time span to produce a World class rider or two? Is it because there are two of them at the same time? Mind you, they are not the same generation. There is 10 years between them. This could very well be a coincidence. 10 years ago, we already had a similar situation with Brajkovic and Spilak. They weren't top of the top like Pog&Rog are right now. But they both could win a WT stage race at the same time and they did, in 2010. One won Romandie, the other Dauphine.

Another important point...
There is a very big tradition in sports in general in Slovenia. When I think of Slovenia, I think of a sport's nation. If you ask all the inhabitants, they'll probably answer you the same. We are mostly proud of our achievements in sport, and there are more than just few. It's not a coincidence Slovenia is often at the top of the list in medals per capita at almost every Olympics, summer or winter. Traditionally Slovenians are best known for winter sports (alpine skiing, ski jumping) and basketball. But in the last 30 years (since independence) there have been champions in handball, gymnastics, ice hockey, cross country, football, skiing, biathlon, rowing, sailing, volleyball, judo, motocross, athletics, sport climbing and the before mentioned ski jumping, alpine skiing and basketball. In all of those sports and probably some I missed, there was a sportsman/woman or a team from Slovenia that was at the top of the world or very close to it for some period of time in their respective sport or discipline. It was only a matter of time for a cycling champion to appear. And like I explained before. Cycling in Slovenia didn't start with Roglic, but way before.

There you have it. I hope it helps with some answers. I'm not saying they are doping or not doping. I just wanted to point out that it's not such a random occurrence for a top cyclist or two to come from Slovenia as it seems. They both also have had completely different paths to the position they are now. Roglic came from another sport in which he was one of the best prospects in the World, but a heavy crash messed with his plans and he lost motivation because he couldn't achieve his goal of becoming the best. He switched to cycling because he liked it and because at the time he was already winning amateur races. He was 22 at the time and had to learn absolutely everything of the sport. He's been steadily improving since then and is still improving. It's unbelievable but that's true. Every single year of his career he's been better than the previous one. A trajectory as steady as it gets. I challenge you, or anybody, to find and show me a rider (from whatever era) that has made as steady of a progression as Roglic has in the last 9 years.

Pogacar on the other hand has always been a prodigy of the sport. He started training when he was 11 and soon competed with cyclists 2 years older than him, but looked 5 years older than him, yet he was winning races. He went toe to toe with riders like Majka, Visconti and Haig in 2017 Tour of Slovenia when he finished 5th at 18yo. Next year he was 4th and won Tour de l'Avenir among other races. The rest is history.

I remember a press conference in 2018, I think, where Roglic jokingly said out loud: "Pogi you should wait a couple of years before going Pro, because you'll start winning immediately and there will be nothing left for the rest of us." Those words were so true.

Again doping, no doping, I don't know. All I'm sure is, there is no special magic potion that only Roglic and Pogacar use and no one else.
Currently? Everyone's flying pretty much, so I don't really think the Poglic are super far ahead of the curve in that regard, unless they're straight up doing it harder or something. I do think Pogacar's final stage win in the 2019 Vuelta smells a lot like the full genius performance in the final Tour ITT. What we know is in 2020 a small group of riders started absolutely flying, that group got bigger as time went on, and we know that Roglic and Pogacar certainly did not miss the boat in that Tour.

I don't really get the idea that just becaue two riders from a small cycling nation are suddenly crushing it, that must somehow be the connection in doping or something. All of Jumbo made a bigass leap in the last few years. UAEs connection to Gianetti is well established. Meanwhile you have dudes like MAL, Porte also drop some crushing performances in the Tour, and that can hardly be cause they're Slovenian.

It's like looking at Federer and Wawrinka, then saying there must be something in the Suisse water that makes their tennis players so great. World class athletes are rare and getting them is a rather stochastic process.
 
These Clinic forums are really strange. Sometimes people claim doping from someone with very little fundaments, and other times other people, or the same, defend furiously other riders that at least look very suspicious.
 
Yeah, about that drop in speed in 2007, I quickly went through the top-20s of GTs that year and here are the people who subsequently tested positive, or admitted doping, or were sentenced for doping


Di Luca
Mazzoleni
Ricco
Pellizotti
Sella
Piepoli
Vila
Contador
Leipheimer
Valverde
Astaloza
Boogerd
Mayo
Schleck
Beltran
Valjavec
Cobo
Menchov
Sanchez
Mosquera
Barredo

So perhaps speeds alone are not a good indicator
Wasn't 07 actually a very fast year?
 
Jan 8, 2020
197
198
1,030
The year was 2008. That was the year when the French doping federation (Don't remember the name exactly) was also testing and investigating the riders. That put some pressure on the UCI.
Yeah, AFLD definitely blindsided a few guys at the 2008 TdF. None of those guys thought they would go +ve on CERA

Then 2009 was warp speed anyway
 
Wasn't 07 actually a very fast year?
I am trying to think back of very fast times that year - Zoncolan, Plateau de Beille, Agnello. Yeah, it was pretty fast.

2008 had Sastre do a sub-40 minutes Alpe d'Huez, which while seemingly not that impressive at the time was only marginally slower than the fastest time in subsequent attempts. That and Frank Schleck's Hautacam where the 2 stand out performances from riders who did not test positive at that race.
 
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Yeah, AFLD definitely blindsided a few guys at the 2008 TdF. None of those guys thought they would go +ve on CERA

Then 2009 was warp speed anyway
Well, yes, because UCI wrested control of testing away from AFLD who had blindsided people by keeping their testing capabilities secret so as to catch the cheats, and Pierre Bordry got fired allegedly under pressure from Sarkozy, for making the sport look bad by doing his job too well.
 
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I am trying to think back of very fast times that year - Zoncolan, Plateau de Beille, Agnello. Yeah, it was pretty fast.

2008 had Sastre do a sub-40 minutes Alpe d'Huez, which while seemingly not that impressive at the time was only marginally slower than the fastest time in subsequent attempts. That and Frank Schleck's Hautacam where the 2 stand out performances from riders who did not test positive at that race.
CSC that race was very strong, one of the most underrated and suspicious ( basically doped ) team performances. They had the 2 strongest climbers in Alps ( Andy Schleck was holding back so much ), Cancellara suddenly set pace on climbs, Frank Schleck became a GT contender ( his best result previously was 10th 2006, he was 2nd before the final TT in 2008 ), Voigt was pretty ridiculous too and Arvesen also won a stage.
 
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CSC that race was very strong, one of the most underrated and suspicious ( basically doped ) team performances. They had the 2 strongest climbers in Alps ( Andy Schleck was holding back so much ), Cancellara suddenly set pace on climbs, Frank Schleck became a GT contender ( his best result previously was 10th 2006, he was 2nd before the final TT in 2008 ), Voigt was pretty ridiculous too and Arvesen also won a stage.

They didn't ride that hard. But reviewing the Alpe stage they may have reduced the peloton down to about 15 riders on the Croix de Fer, but there was a talentless Barloworld neo-pro in there riding fifth wheel so they can't have ridden that hard
 
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I am trying to think back of very fast times that year - Zoncolan, Plateau de Beille, Agnello. Yeah, it was pretty fast.

2008 had Sastre do a sub-40 minutes Alpe d'Huez, which while seemingly not that impressive at the time was only marginally slower than the fastest time in subsequent attempts. That and Frank Schleck's Hautacam where the 2 stand out performances from riders who did not test positive at that race.
2007 had prime Di Luca, a young Andy Schleck, Gibo and the whole Saunier Duval team, the Chicken, DC, Astana (Vino and Kash plus Mazzoleni and il Falco at the Giro) and Menchov at the Vuelta. Gerolsteiner were also already flying in 2007 with Schumi and Rebellin, the overall level was high, it wasn't just 1 or 2 guys.
 
Some days ago already but also fastest Arrate time since over 10 years (Horner was better). And that is after going full speed 30km berore the climb already.

On a side not - Hirschi, who is mentioned quite often in the thread, certainly dropped off dramatically so far. Maybe the rumors surrounding him had some effect.
 
Well, insanely fast times continue. But also - why should they stop? We have seen this in every race so far. Still impressive time from Ala and Roglic and Valverde. Also the route was harder than previously.

Only Gilbert had arguably a better performance in 2011 but he decided to go celebrating 100m out instead of setting a long-time benchmark .:sweatsmile:
 
The year was 2008. That was the year when the French doping federation (Don't remember the name exactly) was also testing and investigating the riders. That put some pressure on the UCI.
Indeed. That was the year Verbruggen threw the toys out of the pram because Pierre Bordry was continuing to do his job correctly. 07 and 08 had guys getting busted left, right and centre
 
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Hypothetical: State of the peloton 2031.
Facades are no longer a part of the equation. We no longer pretend that professional athletes are cleanz. I mean, it's 2031 for gawd sake. We're well past the notion that an athlete would refuse to inject foreign substances into their system.
Everyone breathes a sigh of relief. Thank Allah, God etc.. that we don't have to pretend anymore. Next comes a line of boutique products designed for every category of bike racing. Your kid is 16 years old? Hey I've got the perfect product that will not have a negative effect on your child's development.
You have a 41 year-old family member who is towing his opponents to the line at Liege-Bastogne-Liege? I've got the right thing for you! It's the perfect stocking stuffer for those you love.
 

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