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The Demise of Generation 90

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Imagine if a serious Slovenian cyclocrosser ever decided to switch to the road.
We've already seen what happens if a Slovenian uni-cyclist decides to switch to the road...
Don't forget a Slovenian ski-jumper. The rest of the world must be glad that other Slovenians didn't switch to road cycling.
As for the topic: two main guys (Sagan and Quintana) peaked early. In case of the latter it may be the opposite though (don't believe official age data).
 
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The riders born between 1980-1985 are probably the most successful five year group of riders in the history of the sport.
I think the 1942-47 generation might be a serious challenger. Gimondi born in 1942, De Vlaeminck in 1947, with Merckx, Ocana, Zoetemelk and Godefroot in between. A lot of other big names there as well such as Van Impe, Leman, Fuente, Motta, Sercu and Van Springel.
 
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- they have reached an age where the body physically simply declines, especially in terms of speed/ sprinting ability/ ability to rapidly accelerate, which has become more and more important in races (while pure endurance has become less important). Of course aging is individual, but I think there is very often a seriously significant decline around the 30st birthday
Nah, for endurance sports it's really not common to decline in your late twentys. I've followed these type of sports for over 25 years, and it's more common than not to continue to perform on top level after you're 30. Most of the riders mentioned in the thread start is GC riders, and shoud therefore have been able to do that. And that applies even more now than 20-30 years ago due to advances in sports science.
 
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Most of them (Pinot, Chaves, Bardet, Aru) are GC riders who profited from a not so talented intergenerational group between the Contador era and the Pogacar era. Except from Bardet, they also were hampered by physical, mental or both issues that sharpened their downfall.

Then you have Sagan and Kwiatkowski who, despite having a very good career, didn't live up to their talent for different reasons.

IMHO, the only weird decline is Quintana.
 
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Most of them (Pinot, Chaves, Bardet, Aru) are GC riders who profited from a not so talented intergenerational group between the Contador era and the Pogacar era. Except from Bardet, they also were hampered by physical, mental or both issues that sharpened their downfall.

Then you have Sagan and Kwiatkowski who, despite having a very good career, didn't live up to their talent for different reasons.

IMHO, the only weird decline is Quintana.
How can you say that Sagan didn't live up to his talent?
-3 world championships
-2 monuments
-7 Green Jersey
-Multiple stages in all 3 grand tours
-Maglia Ciclamino
-67 WT wins

He only really misses Sanremo, Vuelta points Jersey and Strade Bianche
 
I read about the changing of the guard in some other topic and started thinking about what we perceived as one of the most talented generations in cycling for a long time: the riders born in 1990.
Flashback to the end of 2017 and you had Quintana podiuming his 6th GT and still looking like the best pure climber in the world, Sagan winning his 3rd straight WC, Dumoulin with his first (of many, we thought) GT and a WC ITT title, Kwiatkowski winning Sanremo and Strade Bianche, Bardet with consecutive podiums at the Tour and Fabio Aru wearing the yellow jersey for a few days and winning the tricolore in dominant fashion.

But where are they know?

Peter Sagan: hasn't looked like his dominant self for at least 2 years. Struggles to win GT stages, lacks speed in the sprints, has switched to PRT level.

Nairo Quintana: still shows flashes of incredible level going uphill but consistency has completely disappeared. Has been at PRT level since 2020. No GT podiums in his last 7 attempts after podiuming 6 of his first 9 GTs ridden.

Tom Dumoulin: a big crash in the 2019 Giro led to 3 seasons of injuries, mental struggles, mistakes, a team switch and a hiatus from the sport. Seems in a better place now, but who knows if he still has the potential to win a GT?

Michal Kwiatkowski: has been fairly anonymous for 3 years now (just one professional win since 2018, a TDF stage). His decline hasn't probably been as clear because he still gets some good results here and there, but we all thought he would win a lot more classics than he did.

Romain Bardet: another rider who hasn’t been particularly bad, but the promise he showed earlier in GTs has almost vanished. No GT podiums since 2017.

Fabio Aru: the most spectacular and sudden decline among the mentioned riders, and likely one the cycling history books will remember. Went from contesting GTs to not being able to follow the peloton in a flat stage. Once touted as the next big thing for Italian cycling, he retired at 31.

Michael Matthews: not sure he deserves to be included since I don’t believe he was ever in the same tier of the other riders, and he has actually been pretty consistent recently (although with just one pro win since 2019).

Thibaut Pinot: hurts to have him in this list, but his back issues and mental struggles have completely changed his career trajectory. Perhaps abandoning the Tour when in prime position to win it in 2019 was really too much to take.

Nacer Bouhanni: again, not at the same level of the other riders, but from 2013 to 2017 he had 5 consecutive seasons with at least 1000 points on PCS. Has then failed to clear 600 points in the following 4 years.

Esteban Chaves: podiumed both the Giro and the Vuelta in 2016, then the Epstein-Barr virus, some crashes, etc and we’re now happy if he wins a stage and finishes in the top20 of a GT. An Aru-like kind of decline but with more smiles along the way.


Of course, there’s one giant counter example here: Sonny Colbrelli, who went from being a very consistent .1 and .HC winner to one of the best classic riders in the world in 2021. But overall the demise of generation 90 can’t be denied. So what has happened? Too much pressure from the fans / media / peers? A new stronger generation emerged and took over? They just got old before we thought they would? Fame, money and success sapped their motivation?
Good thread.

Funny how Roglic is older than all these guys.
 
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How can you say that Sagan didn't live up to his talent?
-3 world championships
-2 monuments
-7 Green Jersey
-Multiple stages in all 3 grand tours
-Maglia Ciclamino
-67 WT wins

He only really misses Sanremo, Vuelta points Jersey and Strade Bianche
Sagan's results are really impressive, but his talent is even more impressive imo. I really think he could've done even more, although I hope he is not finished yet.
 
For me the obvious answer is that elite endurance athletes can't stay at their peak level for years and years, with a few notable exceptions. I'd be very surprised if Pogacar is as good aged 31 as he is now
 
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Most of them (Pinot, Chaves, Bardet, Aru) are GC riders who profited from a not so talented intergenerational group between the Contador era and the Pogacar era. Except from Bardet, they also were hampered by physical, mental or both issues that sharpened their downfall.
I would say that Aru was a pretty big talent. Won Giro Valles d'Aosta twice, 3rd in the Giro when he was 24, 2nd in the Giro and won the Vuelta when he was 25. If not for his problems he should defenitely dominated more in the years from 16 to 19.
 
For me the obvious answer is that elite endurance athletes can't stay at their peak level for years and years, with a few notable exceptions. I'd be very surprised if Pogacar is as good aged 31 as he is now
Bettini has said the same about the current generation of young stars, he thinks that a lot of them will retire at the age of 32 (or around that).
Very few riders manage to stay at the top for more than a decade.
 
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How can you say that Sagan didn't live up to his talent?
-3 world championships
-2 monuments
-7 Green Jersey
-Multiple stages in all 3 grand tours
-Maglia Ciclamino
-67 WT wins

He only really misses Sanremo, Vuelta points Jersey and Strade Bianche
His impressive resume is, in my opinion, too small for the talent he had. He should have won multiple monuments and could have tried to achieve (even) greater things.
 
How can you say that Sagan didn't live up to his talent?
-3 world championships
-2 monuments
-7 Green Jersey
-Multiple stages in all 3 grand tours
-Maglia Ciclamino
-67 WT wins

He only really misses Sanremo, Vuelta points Jersey and Strade Bianche
Well with his talent it wouldn’t shock you if he had won 8 monuments so if he retires with 2 it will feel like unfulfilled destiny.

In his favour will always be the incredibly hard to match Worlds 3peat.
 
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A bit different as most of his bigger wins were much later in his career after the majority of the aforementioned riders had already retired.
Fuglsang kind of illustrates the point, though. When the 80-85 group were riding at their best, Fuglsang was a domestique for Schleck, Nibali etc and could occasionally get a GT top 10 way behind Froome, Contador. As those guys faded/retired, Fuglsang started winning big races (Dauphine, monuments) in his 30s, without ever looking like a "better" cyclist than he was aged 28.

That 85-95 generation kind of got passed over. The generation before them kept winning later, and the generation coming after them, are winning things younger. The only multi-monument winner under 30 currently active is Pogacar. The only Multi-GT winners younger than Froome and older than Bernal (12 year gap) are Quintana and Roglic, who is again probably an illustrative example; a late starter who emerged as the Froome generation were fading, and is comfortably better than the rest of that cohort.
 
Well with his talent it wouldn’t shock you if he had won 8 monuments so if he retires with 2 it will feel like unfulfilled destiny.

In his favour will always be the incredibly hard to match Worlds 3peat.
Yeah, only 2 monuments for a talent like Sagan seems rather mediocre, though he was marked out of it in a lot of those races. An excellent career, but with his talent should have more I believe.
 
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Yeah, only 2 monuments for a talent like Sagan seems rather mediocre, though he was marked out of it in a lot of those races. An excellent career, but with his talent should have more I believe.
Yeah a lot of riders, most notably GVA, seemed to ride primarily to make Sagan lose rather than for their own chances.

As a Sagan fan it was often frustrating to see him lose after doing 90% of the work as the rest sat on tossing away their own chances in the process.
 
Yeah a lot of riders, most notably GVA, seemed to ride primarily to make Sagan lose rather than for their own chances.

As a Sagan fan it was often frustrating to see him lose after doing 90% of the work as the rest sat on tossing away their own chances in the process.
At the same time, he had (at least) 2 MSR wins go a-begging where he could have just ridden that little bit smarter after the Poggio descent…
 
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Well with his talent it wouldn’t shock you if he had won 8 monuments so if he retires with 2 it will feel like unfulfilled destiny.

In his favour will always be the incredibly hard to match Worlds 3peat.
I wouldn’t be shocked if Alaf 3 peats…Sagan’s palmares does feel incomplete, although as mentioned it often seemed like it was Peter vs. the field in some of his races.
 
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I wouldn’t be shocked if Alaf 3 peats…Sagan’s palmares does feel incomplete, although as mentioned it often seemed like it was Peter vs. the field in some of his races.
Same can be said about many dominant riders before him. Cancellara for example was marked just as bad. Maybe even worse. And he was a worse sprinter. Still manged to podium 12 in a row and win 5 during that stretch (one DNF). Sagan never showed that kind of dominance in monuments. He was always among the best but with few exceptions I never had the feeling that he was levels above the competition.
 
Same can be said about many dominant riders before him. Cancellara for example was marked just as bad. Maybe even worse. And he was a worse sprinter. Still manged to podium 12 in a row and win 5 during that stretch (one DNF). Sagan never showed that kind of dominance in monuments. He was always among the best but with few exceptions I never had the feeling that he was levels above the competition.
Spartacus had better teams around him, and had the race craft to win on days when he wasn’t necessarily the strongest ( eg Ronde 2014).

Being less of a sprinter arguably helped Cancellara; riders were more likely to ride with him, thinking they might beat him in the sprint.
 
It has nothing to do with Sagans riding style.

It's a reference to a lot of people saying GVA sucks Sagans wheel.

I've even seen comments saying that 'GVA looks lost without Sagan' in classics that sagan didn't do
Right, makes sense. I don't know from where that reputation has come, either. Perhaps because he won all the classics in 2017, where Sagan was the most vocal about lack of cooperation. But Greg wasn't the one who was at fault, at all.
 
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