• The Cycling News forum is looking to add some volunteer moderators with Red Rick's recent retirement. If you're interested in helping keep our discussions on track, send a direct message to @SHaines here on the forum, or use the Contact Us form to message the Community Team.

    In the meanwhile, please use the Report option if you see a post that doesn't fit within the forum rules.

    Thanks!

The greatest classic rider of the 21st century

Page 6 - Get up to date with the latest news, scores & standings from the Cycling News Community.

Who is the best classics specialist of this century?

  • Paolo Bettini

    Votes: 36 26.9%
  • Tom Boonen

    Votes: 40 29.9%
  • Fabian Cancellara

    Votes: 35 26.1%
  • Philippe Gilbert

    Votes: 12 9.0%
  • Alejandro Valverde

    Votes: 9 6.7%
  • Oscar Freire

    Votes: 2 1.5%

  • Total voters
    134
Mar 13, 2015
2,637
0
0
Visit site
Re: Re:

Flamin said:
El Pistolero said:
Boonen had a severe arm infection at the end of 2012 and was hospitalized for a week. Obviously he didn't reach top shape for 2013 after such a bad preparation. He has also crashed a lot more than Cancellara, he even had a skull fracture at the end of 2015, which again led to a bad preparation for the 2016 season.

Cancellara didn't have much bad luck until 2012. Boonen just over-classed him almost every time from 2004 till 2009. How short people's memories are.

And besides 2009 Cancellara has never even featured in a World Championship, never close to being the strongest.

Boonen has been more cobble classic-minded from a young age than Cancellara. As a Belgian, he basically grew up with them. Canc didn't and actually never really trained much on the cobbles, so it's not that weird Boonen had the edge there. And don't try to narrow this down to cobbles only, because Boonen most definitely didn't outclass Cancellara in other classics in that period.

From 2010 onwards, Canc was at his very best and did things Boonen never had done imo (quality-wise), both in cobble classics and others. That's why Canc > Boonen for me.

Netserk said:
Flamin said:
@Netserk

Bad luck when you're the best rider and in the shape of your life (Canc 12) ≠ bad luck when another rider is better (Boonen 11 and 13). I don't remember any bad luck from Boonen when he was the big man in the classics. Therefore I'd most definitely prefer Boonen's bad luck, don't you?

On top of that, Boonen greatly benefited from Canc' bad luck in 12, which makes their palmares look quite a bit different. Never ever did Canc benefit from Boonen's bad luck to such extent (you know, because Canc was better anyway ;)). Only Roubaix 13, kind of, though it's far from certain Boonen would have won that one, unlike Ronde 12, which Canc would have won with 1 leg.
How can you put 2011 and 2013 in the same category when it comes to Boonen? After his amazing 2012, he had his entire prep **** up because of bad luck. I don't see any reason why one would make the assumption that he would have had a 2011 level if it wasn't for bad luck that year.

If I bought your kind of reasoning, I could just as well say that Canc profited greatly from Boonen's bad luck in 2013 and that he wouldn't have won any monument that year, if Boonen had been without bad luck like the year before. But I don't.

It still stands that Boonen has had at least as much bad luck as Canc, if not more, over their entire careers.

Huh, where did I make the assumption Boonen would be on 2011-level in 2013 if not for bad prep?? Actually I projected his 2012-level on 2013, which seems very fair. That's why I said Canc had some luck too that Boonen wasn't there in Roubaix 13, since that could have been a close battle. But that Cancellara wouldn't have won the Ronde that year with Boonen?! You have to be kidding me :confused:

Huh, we're discussing best classics rider of the century here. Fact that Boonen is "born" on the cobbles and Cancellara isn't is not so much relevant here. The most important thing here is the results! And Boonen is ahead in that matter. Not by so much, but clearly ahead. If Cancellara didn't rode so much classics as Boonen, well that's his own problem. We're interested in facts here! I posted couple of pages back about Valverde that he could have had much more success in classics if he had been exclusively oriented on that races. But he didn't do that and all we can do is talk about things he accomplished, not the things he didn't. And I agree that it is important how the win is achieved, Cancellara had some really memorable wins. But so did Boonen, maybe not so much, or in the same fashion, but memorable alright. But for me the results are much important, and Boonen has the edge on Cancellara.
 
Jul 16, 2010
17,455
5
0
Visit site
Ronde van Vlaanderen 2005:

- Boonen: 1st
- Cancellara: 62nd

Paris-Roubaix 2005:

- Boonen: 1st
- Cancellara: 8th

Ronde van Vlaanderen 2006:

- Boonen: 1st
- Cancellara: 5th

Paris-Roubaix 2006:

- Boonen: 2nd
- Cancellara: 1st (he wasn't really marked back then)

Ronde van Vlaanderen 2007:

- Boonen: 12th (crashed in the beginning of the race)
- Cancellara: 53th

Paris-Roubaix 2007:

- Boonen: 6th (he was the strongest of the favorites, break survived)
- Cancellara: 19th

Ronde van Vlaanderen 2008:

- Boonen: 17th (team-mate was up ahead, so he couldn't do anything)
- Cancellara: 23th

Paris-Roubaix 2008:

- Boonen: 1st
- Cancellara: 2nd

Ronde van Vlaanderen 2009:

- Boonen: 20th (strongest of the favorites, Pozzato wheel-sucked him, team-mate was up ahead)
- Cancellara: abandoned

Paris-Roubaix 2009:

- Boonen: 1st
- Cancellara: 49th

--

Boonen was simply two levels above Cancellara in the period of 2004-2009. Cancellara somehow found an extra gear since 2010, maybe he did have an engine in his bike. ;)
 
I remember reading in a flemish cycling magazine that Quick Step had bought Roubaix 2008 for Boonen since Tommeke had quite a shitty start of the season. Although it sounds as ludicrous as Spartacus having a motor in his bike, it has always stuck to me. Anybody knows anymore about this?

On topic: Bettini all the way for me. After that I think it is quite close, you can make a case for all of them.

Cool you added Freire, always think people leave him out of the conversation too often. Winning the World's three times is just unreal.
 
Boonen vs. Cance is a rightfully endless discussion, I myself can never make up my mind about which one's greater. I have to admit I like Tom much much more, no contest (and more bad luck imo), but I also have to admit that Fabu have that dominant, untouchable aura about him everytime he wins, something that I can't say Boonen can match. But....this thread is not about the second greatest of the century, it's about Bettini :D
 
This should perhaps be a topic again. I voted for Bettini, but Gilbert is rapidly closing in on the top 3.

How much would it take for Gilbert to be rated as the greatest classics rider in this century? With today's win, I would definitely say one more monument and I would rate Phil before both Bettini, Boonen and Cacellara! Win LBL this year and he's on top!
 
Re:

OlavEH said:
This should perhaps be a topic again. I voted for Bettini, but Gilbert is rapidly closing in on the top 3.

How much would it take for Gilbert to be rated as the greatest classics rider in this century? With today's win, I would definitely say one more monument and I would rate Phil before both Bettini, Boonen and Cacellara! Win LBL this year and he's on top!
I think his win today puts him slightly above Cancellara and Boonen. Perhaps still slightly behind Bettini if we're counting worlds and olympics wins as well. But that's mostly because personally I rate variety quite a bit higher than quantity - but I fully accept why people would still rate Canc and Boonen higher.
 
Re: Re:

DFA123 said:
I think his win today puts him slightly above Cancellara and Boonen. Perhaps still slightly behind Bettini if we're counting worlds and olympics wins as well. But that's mostly because personally I rate variety quite a bit higher than quantity - but I fully accept why people would still rate Canc and Boonen higher.

I think it's extremely difficult to rate these four, but at this time I rate Bettini as the best, but it's close. Looking at the results listed below, I don't think there is much that separates them. But due to Bettini's two WRR wins and his Olympics win, I therefore rate him the greatest.

Boonen:
7 monument wins in 2 different monuments
1 WRR
8 other classis wins

Cancellara:
7 monument wins in 3 different monuments
6 other classics wins

Bettini:
5 monument wins in 3 different monuments
2 WRR + 1 Olympic road race
4 other classics wins

Gilbert:
4 monument wins in 3 different monuments
1 WRR
10 other classics wins

Note: Other classics include the former WC-races, GW, FW, AGR, E3, Omloop, Strade Bianche and Paris-Tours. I'm a bit unsure about the last two as SB has gained prestige in the last years, while Paris-Tours have lost prestige.
 
Based on palmares alone, Tom Boonen. I think Valverde would have achieved even more if he had focused on the classics.

Also, since I now realize this thread was revived exclusively due to his RVV win, Gilbert's palmares is great too, but he was nowhere to be found during too many of what should have been his prime years. No way he can be considered the best of the 21st century even if he had the palmares to match Boonen (which I don't think he does).
 
Re:

AlexNYC said:
Based on palmares alone, Tom Boonen. I think Valverde would have achieved even more if he had focused on the classics.

Also, since I now realize this thread was revived exclusively due to his RVV win, Gilbert's palmares is great too, but he was nowhere to be found during too many of what should have been his prime years. No way he can be considered the best of the 21st century even if he had the palmares to match Boonen (which I don't think he does).

Shouldn't versatility be a part of the consideration?

Boonen has won all his great wins, except the WRR, in the cobbled classics.

Gilbert has won LBL, AGR, FW, RVV, Omloop, Strade Bianche, Lombardia, San Sebastian, Paris-Tours and WRR.

If Gilbert should also win LBL this year, I wouldn't be in doubt. Then I would rate him ahead of Boonen, Bettiini, Cancellara.
 
I think right now Gilbert is still clearly behind Boonen. If he wins PR or MSR one day I could change my mind though. Boonen still would have more wins but it's true that Boonens classics palmares is very one-dimensional, compared to Gilbert who has won LBL, Lombardia and the Ronde.
 
Mar 13, 2015
2,637
0
0
Visit site
Re: Re:

OlavEH said:
AlexNYC said:
Based on palmares alone, Tom Boonen. I think Valverde would have achieved even more if he had focused on the classics.

Also, since I now realize this thread was revived exclusively due to his RVV win, Gilbert's palmares is great too, but he was nowhere to be found during too many of what should have been his prime years. No way he can be considered the best of the 21st century even if he had the palmares to match Boonen (which I don't think he does).

Shouldn't versatility be a part of the consideration?

Boonen has won all his great wins, except the WRR, in the cobbled classics.

Gilbert has won LBL, AGR, FW, RVV, Omloop, Strade Bianche, Lombardia, San Sebastian, Paris-Tours and WRR.

If Gilbert should also win LBL this year, I wouldn't be in doubt. Then I would rate him ahead of Boonen, Bettiini, Cancellara.


Yes, but that matters only if there are very small margins. Then the more versatile rider gets the advantage. But in this case margins are not small, Boonen and Bettini both have 8 biggest wins (OG, WC, Monuments) while Gilbert has 5. That's quite a difference
 
Jul 16, 2010
17,455
5
0
Visit site
Re: Re:

Mr.White said:
OlavEH said:
AlexNYC said:
Based on palmares alone, Tom Boonen. I think Valverde would have achieved even more if he had focused on the classics.

Also, since I now realize this thread was revived exclusively due to his RVV win, Gilbert's palmares is great too, but he was nowhere to be found during too many of what should have been his prime years. No way he can be considered the best of the 21st century even if he had the palmares to match Boonen (which I don't think he does).

Shouldn't versatility be a part of the consideration?

Boonen has won all his great wins, except the WRR, in the cobbled classics.

Gilbert has won LBL, AGR, FW, RVV, Omloop, Strade Bianche, Lombardia, San Sebastian, Paris-Tours and WRR.

If Gilbert should also win LBL this year, I wouldn't be in doubt. Then I would rate him ahead of Boonen, Bettiini, Cancellara.


Yes, but that matters only if there are very small margins. Then the more versatile rider gets the advantage. But in this case margins are not small, Boonen and Bettini both have 8 biggest wins (OG, WC, Monuments) while Gilbert has 5. That's quite a difference

Gilbert has a lot of other wins as well though, like:

- Omloop het Volk: 2006, 2008
- Paris-Tours, 2008, 2009 (beat Boonen that year)
- Amstel Gold Race: 2010, 2011, 2014
- Brabantse Pijl: 2011, 2014
- La Flèche Wallonne: 2011
- Clasica San Sebastian: 2011
- GP de Québec: 2011
- Strade Bianche: 2011
- Giro del Piemonte: 2009, 2010

And he was also on the podium of Milan-San Remo twice, being the only rider in the current peloton to podium in at least 4 different Monuments.
 
Mar 13, 2015
2,637
0
0
Visit site
Re: Re:

El Pistolero said:
Mr.White said:
OlavEH said:
AlexNYC said:
Based on palmares alone, Tom Boonen. I think Valverde would have achieved even more if he had focused on the classics.

Also, since I now realize this thread was revived exclusively due to his RVV win, Gilbert's palmares is great too, but he was nowhere to be found during too many of what should have been his prime years. No way he can be considered the best of the 21st century even if he had the palmares to match Boonen (which I don't think he does).

Shouldn't versatility be a part of the consideration?

Boonen has won all his great wins, except the WRR, in the cobbled classics.

Gilbert has won LBL, AGR, FW, RVV, Omloop, Strade Bianche, Lombardia, San Sebastian, Paris-Tours and WRR.

If Gilbert should also win LBL this year, I wouldn't be in doubt. Then I would rate him ahead of Boonen, Bettiini, Cancellara.


Yes, but that matters only if there are very small margins. Then the more versatile rider gets the advantage. But in this case margins are not small, Boonen and Bettini both have 8 biggest wins (OG, WC, Monuments) while Gilbert has 5. That's quite a difference

Gilbert has a lot of other wins as well though, like:

- Omloop het Volk: 2006, 2008
- Paris-Tours, 2008, 2009 (beat Boonen that year)
- Amstel Gold Race: 2010, 2011, 2014
- Brabantse Pijl: 2011, 2014
- La Flèche Wallonne: 2011
- Clasica San Sebastian: 2011
- GP de Québec: 2011
- Strade Bianche: 2011
- Giro del Piemonte: 2009, 2010

And he was also on the podium of Milan-San Remo twice, being the only rider in the current peloton to podium in at least 4 different Monuments.

Yeah, I'm aware of Gilbert's palmares. He's a unique rider, but he needs at least 2 major wins to make a case against Boonen and Bettini. Boonen also has a lot of other wins, and San Remo podiums, while Bettini hasn't got so many wins like Phil and Tommeke, but he has 2WC Golds and one Olympic and these races stand slightly above Monuments
 
Jul 16, 2010
17,455
5
0
Visit site
Re: Re:

Mr.White said:
El Pistolero said:
Mr.White said:
OlavEH said:
AlexNYC said:
Based on palmares alone, Tom Boonen. I think Valverde would have achieved even more if he had focused on the classics.

Also, since I now realize this thread was revived exclusively due to his RVV win, Gilbert's palmares is great too, but he was nowhere to be found during too many of what should have been his prime years. No way he can be considered the best of the 21st century even if he had the palmares to match Boonen (which I don't think he does).

Shouldn't versatility be a part of the consideration?

Boonen has won all his great wins, except the WRR, in the cobbled classics.

Gilbert has won LBL, AGR, FW, RVV, Omloop, Strade Bianche, Lombardia, San Sebastian, Paris-Tours and WRR.

If Gilbert should also win LBL this year, I wouldn't be in doubt. Then I would rate him ahead of Boonen, Bettiini, Cancellara.


Yes, but that matters only if there are very small margins. Then the more versatile rider gets the advantage. But in this case margins are not small, Boonen and Bettini both have 8 biggest wins (OG, WC, Monuments) while Gilbert has 5. That's quite a difference

Gilbert has a lot of other wins as well though, like:

- Omloop het Volk: 2006, 2008
- Paris-Tours, 2008, 2009 (beat Boonen that year)
- Amstel Gold Race: 2010, 2011, 2014
- Brabantse Pijl: 2011, 2014
- La Flèche Wallonne: 2011
- Clasica San Sebastian: 2011
- GP de Québec: 2011
- Strade Bianche: 2011
- Giro del Piemonte: 2009, 2010

And he was also on the podium of Milan-San Remo twice, being the only rider in the current peloton to podium in at least 4 different Monuments.

Yeah, I'm aware of Gilbert's palmares. He's a unique rider, but he needs at least 2 major wins to make a case against Boonen and Bettini. Boonen also has a lot of other wins, and San Remo podiums, while Bettini hasn't got so many wins like Phil and Tommeke, but he has 2WC Golds and one Olympic and these races stand slightly above Monuments

Well, yeah, Bettini is out of reach, but Boonen and Cancellara definitely aren't. One might say he already surpassed them.
 
Apr 1, 2013
426
0
0
Visit site
a close run between Tom Boonen and Spartacus for me ....

but then again, I might be a bit biased as I prefer the more powerful fully figured guys powering the cobbles to the thinspos usually running the show at the Ardennes or Lombardia ...
 
Apr 1, 2013
426
0
0
Visit site
had a look in my own Excel-sheets of all-time results:

all single-day events (however this includes TTs as well)
* riders with results from 20th Century included

1. Cancellara
2. Boonen
3. Bettini
4. Gilbert
5. Bartoli *
6. Valverde
7. Freire *
8. Sagan
9. Zabel *
10. Rebellin *

Single-Day events excluding World's
1. Boonen
2. Cancellara
3. Gilbert
4. Bartoli *
5. Bettini
6. Valverde
7. Rebellin
8. Zabel *
9. Tafi *
10. Tchmil *

Monuments only
1. Cancellara
2. Boonen
3. Bettini
4. Bartoli *
5. Gilbert
6. Valverde
7. Zabel *
8. Tchmil *
9. Tafi *
10. Freire *
 
I think several things should be taken into consideration when talking about the greatest classic rider.

You have to be competitive in all five of the monuments + the worlds. Winning Milano-Sanremo four times doesn't make you a classics specialist, it makes you a Milano-Sanremo specialist.
 
Jun 30, 2014
7,060
2
0
Visit site
It's pretty close between the top 4, but I'd still pick my favourite Bettini, 3 different Monuments + 2x WC RR and Olympic RR, 2x Züri-Metzgete and a Donostia win. It's also worth mentioning that he's got 2 top 10 finishes in the RVV, podiums in KBK and Omloop Het Volk, when it comes down to being great in all kind of races only Gilbert is as well rounded.
Tommeke is a legend on his own, the most successful cobbles rider of all time and Cancellara is also a legend, ranking the top 4 isn't easy and a lot just comes down to personal taste.
 
Re:

Mayomaniac said:
It's pretty close between the top 4, but I'd still pick my favourite Bettini, 3 different Monuments + 2x WC RR and Olympic RR, 2x Züri-Metzgete and a Donostia win. It's also worth mentioning that he's got 2 top 10 finishes in the RVV, podiums in KBK and Omloop Het Volk, when it comes down to being great in all kind of races only Gilbert is as well rounded.
Tommeke is a legend on his own, the most successful cobbles rider of all time and Cancellara is also a legend, ranking the top 4 isn't easy and a lot just comes down to personal taste.
Spot-on! Personal taste and how one rate/like different races.

Boonen has most big wins in total, but is less versatile than Gilbert and Bettini.

Bettini has 2 WRR and 1 olympics RR, which none of the other three can match. Though suprisingly few other big semi-classic wins.

Gilbert has least big wins, but is probably the most versatile of these four riders, and semi-classic wins (3xAGR, FW, Omloop, 2xPT, SS, Strade Bianche).

Cancellara is perhaps the most extreme rider with the most impressive victories (IMO).
 
Re: Re:

OlavEH said:
Mayomaniac said:
It's pretty close between the top 4, but I'd still pick my favourite Bettini, 3 different Monuments + 2x WC RR and Olympic RR, 2x Züri-Metzgete and a Donostia win. It's also worth mentioning that he's got 2 top 10 finishes in the RVV, podiums in KBK and Omloop Het Volk, when it comes down to being great in all kind of races only Gilbert is as well rounded.
Tommeke is a legend on his own, the most successful cobbles rider of all time and Cancellara is also a legend, ranking the top 4 isn't easy and a lot just comes down to personal taste.
Spot-on! Personal taste and how one rate/like different races.

Boonen has most big wins in total, but is less versatile than Gilbert and Bettini.

Bettini has 2 WRR and 1 olympics RR, which none of the other three can match. Though suprisingly few other big semi-classic wins.

Gilbert has least big wins, but is probably the most versatile of these four riders, and semi-classic wins (3xAGR, FW, Omloop, 2xPT, SS, Strade Bianche).

Cancellara is perhaps the most extreme rider with the most impressive victories (IMO).

I thought that AGR and FW were considered "classics" and not "semi-classics"?