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The greatest classic rider of the 21st century

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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
There is obviously no one correct answer for this; there are so many factors that make it an entirely subjective call.

I guess the main thing is whether you believe diversity is more important (Gilbert / Bettini). Or whether racking up an insane number of wins in one kind of race more important (Boonen/Valverde). Also, is longetivity better or worse than getting half the wins in a year or two period?

How much weighting should you give to other podium positions and top tens? How much should you weight the quality of the field that was beaten? How much should you take into consideration how dominant or lucky each win was? What value do you give to each particular race?

You could easily make a decent argument for any of the options, depending on what you believe are the most important factors. Or, more likely - and probably what inspired the original post, depending on which riders you like or don't like. ;)
 
Re:

Valv.Piti said:
A far more interesting debate would be the best rider of the 21st century!
Yes, May be we could open a discussion for best rider. In this case, track, TT, MTB races all counts. A lots of debate.

Best classics rider. Clearly is Boonen, by biggest wins and number of total wins.
Gilbert is second at the moment. But he could be close to Open when retire. 2 more years to chase
 
Re: Re:

toolittle said:
Valv.Piti said:
A far more interesting debate would be the best rider of the 21st century!
Yes, May be we could open a discussion for best rider. In this case, track, TT, MTB races all counts. A lots of debate.

Best classics rider. Clearly is Boonen, by biggest wins and number of total wins.
Gilbert is second at the moment. But he could be close to Open when retire. 2 more years to chase
And could then be immediately ignored as clearly much inferior disciplines.
 
Re: Re:

toolittle said:
Valv.Piti said:
A far more interesting debate would be the best rider of the 21st century!
Yes, May be we could open a discussion for best rider. In this case, track, TT, MTB races all counts. A lots of debate.

Best classics rider. Clearly is Boonen, by biggest wins and number of total wins.
Gilbert is second at the moment. But he could be close to Open when retire. 2 more years to chase
Best GT rider is Contador, TTer is Cancellara
 
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Re: Re:

toolittle said:
Valv.Piti said:
A far more interesting debate would be the best rider of the 21st century!
Yes, May be we could open a discussion for best rider. In this case, track, TT, MTB races all counts. A lots of debate.

Best classics rider. Clearly is Boonen, by biggest wins and number of total wins.
Gilbert is second at the moment. But he could be close to Open when retire. 2 more years to chase

Clearly? How? How is he clearly better than Bettini for example? And Gilbert second? Ahead of Bettini and Cancellara? I don't think so...
 
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Re:

Brullnux said:
For such a versatile rider, Valverde has won an incredibly narrow range of one day races.

But he won many one-week races and even 3-week race, that's why he's so versatile ;) For most versatile classics rider look for Gilbert or Van Avermaet.
 
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Re:

Durden93 said:
Serious question: In their primes who was the better sprinter, Gilbert or Valverde?

Well I remember Gilbert beating Valverde in a sprint 2-3 times, and Valverde beating Gilbert at least 15-20 times in a sprint, so you go figure.. ;)
 
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Re: Re:

Mr.White said:
Durden93 said:
Serious question: In their primes who was the better sprinter, Gilbert or Valverde?

Well I remember Gilbert beating Valverde in a sprint 2-3 times, and Valverde beating Gilbert at least 15-20 times in a sprint, so you go figure.. ;)

When you say beat, are you including times when Valverde merely placed higher than Gilbert, or only times when Valverde won?
 
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Re: Re:

Durden93 said:
Mr.White said:
Durden93 said:
Serious question: In their primes who was the better sprinter, Gilbert or Valverde?

Well I remember Gilbert beating Valverde in a sprint 2-3 times, and Valverde beating Gilbert at least 15-20 times in a sprint, so you go figure.. ;)

When you say beat, are you including times when Valverde merely placed higher than Gilbert, or only times when Valverde won?

For the win I can only remember Tour stage to Plumelec 2008 and Vuelta stage to Jaen same year for Valverde, and Vuelta a Murcia 2016 and Vuelta 2012 to La Lastrilla for Gilbert (although this one was rather late attack). We have more examples for secondary places: Liege 2010 (for 3rd place), Amstel 2014 (2nd), Lombardia 2014 (2nd), WC RR 2014 (2nd, although Gerrans beat them both), Amstel 2015 (sprint was for the win, Kwiat won, Bala 2nd), etc, all won by Valverde. The only one I remember is won by Gilbert is San Sebastian 2015 (for 2nd).

As for your original question who was better sprinter in their prime, I will remind you that Valverde early in his carrer (his sprinting prime) was able to win some 30-40 men reduced bunch sprints, something Gilbert could never do. Although I admit he's very fast too.
 
Gilbert has come 2nd in TdF bunch sprints, albeit slightly technical ones.

I really think it depends on the sprint. I think Valverde has a tendency to arrive at the finish line fresher. In case of fresh uphill sprint, I'd take Gilbert for most short efforts under 10%.
 
LOL, speakig about Valverde is speaking about talent (¡naturaleza! as he said). You can say that they maybe are equal sprinters right now, ok, but the thing is Valverde is ¡10 kgs less! than Gilbert and one of the best climbers in the world, and he can outsprint 80/90 % the current pro cyclists.
 
Re: Re:

Mr.White said:
toolittle said:
Valv.Piti said:
A far more interesting debate would be the best rider of the 21st century!
Yes, May be we could open a discussion for best rider. In this case, track, TT, MTB races all counts. A lots of debate.

Best classics rider. Clearly is Boonen, by biggest wins and number of total wins.
Gilbert is second at the moment. But he could be close to Open when retire. 2 more years to chase

Clearly? How? How is he clearly better than Bettini for example? And Gilbert second? Ahead of Bettini and Cancellara? I don't think so...

Boonen is best clearly.

In terms of quantity and variety, Gilbert (Around 25 important classics) passed Bettini and Cancellara already.
In terms of importance, Bettini and Cancellara have more.
But Gilbert still have 2.5 seasons to chase. He has QS team at his disposal.
Let see. I am quite optimistic about Gilbert future success.
 
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Re: Re:

toolittle said:
Mr.White said:
toolittle said:
Valv.Piti said:
A far more interesting debate would be the best rider of the 21st century!
Yes, May be we could open a discussion for best rider. In this case, track, TT, MTB races all counts. A lots of debate.

Best classics rider. Clearly is Boonen, by biggest wins and number of total wins.
Gilbert is second at the moment. But he could be close to Open when retire. 2 more years to chase

Clearly? How? How is he clearly better than Bettini for example? And Gilbert second? Ahead of Bettini and Cancellara? I don't think so...

Boonen is best clearly.

In terms of quantity and variety, Gilbert (Around 25 important classics) passed Bettini and Cancellara already.
In terms of importance, Bettini and Cancellara have more.
But Gilbert still have 2.5 seasons to chase. He has QS team at his disposal.
Let see. I am quite optimistic about Gilbert future success.

Well, not for me! For me Bettini slightly ahead of Boonen, mostly due to his WC and Olympic Gold medals.
 
Re: Re:

Mr.White said:
toolittle said:
Mr.White said:
toolittle said:
Valv.Piti said:
A far more interesting debate would be the best rider of the 21st century!
Yes, May be we could open a discussion for best rider. In this case, track, TT, MTB races all counts. A lots of debate.

Best classics rider. Clearly is Boonen, by biggest wins and number of total wins.
Gilbert is second at the moment. But he could be close to Open when retire. 2 more years to chase

Clearly? How? How is he clearly better than Bettini for example? And Gilbert second? Ahead of Bettini and Cancellara? I don't think so...

Boonen is best clearly.

In terms of quantity and variety, Gilbert (Around 25 important classics) passed Bettini and Cancellara already.
In terms of importance, Bettini and Cancellara have more.
But Gilbert still have 2.5 seasons to chase. He has QS team at his disposal.
Let see. I am quite optimistic about Gilbert future success.

Well, not for me! For me Bettini slightly ahead of Boonen, mostly due to his WC and Olympic Gold medals.
Olympic + 2 WC + 5 M + 4 important classics.
vs
1 WC + 7M + 19 important classics

Patrick Lefévère tips Boonen as his first leader of his dream classic team.
 
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No. Bettini has 8 major wins (OG, 2xWC, 5 Monuments), + 4 WT level wins (2x Zuri-Metzgete, Hamburg and San Sebastian - all part of the World Cup by the way), has 2 Nationals and some minor classics as well (Giro del Lazio, Coppa Sabatini, Coppa Placci, Trofeo Matteoti, GP di Lugano, GP Citta di Camaiore, Trofeo Soller).

Boonen has also 8 major wins (WC and 7 Monuments), which is bellow Bettini imo because of Paolo's WC and OG wins, as I mentioned in previous post. Further, Boonen has 4 WT level wins (3x GW + E3 Harelbeke 2012), just as much as Bettini. To clear things up, Boonen won E3 5 times, but only his last win falls in category of big classics win. Before 2012 E3 was not a WT race and the quality level was much lower then. It was basically just a preparation race for De Ronde. He also has 2 Nationals and also won some minor classics, couple of more then Bettini to be honest (3x Kuurne, 2x Scheldeprijs, Dwars dor Vlaanderen, 2x Paris-Brussels, Rund um Koln, London Surrey Classic, etc). So I would like you to name those 19 important classics which Boonen won!? :confused:

As you see, there's no big difference between those 2, results wise, in my opinion they're pretty equal. Boonen won little more, Bettini won slightly more important ones and wider variety of races. I told you already why I put Bettini first, and I think the difference is minimal. On the other hand you told that Boonen is clearly better, which is clearly not the case!
 
Re:

Mr.White said:
No. Bettini has 8 major wins (OG, 2xWC, 5 Monuments), + 4 WT level wins (2x Zuri-Metzgete, Hamburg and San Sebastian - all part of the World Cup by the way), has 2 Nationals and some minor classics as well (Giro del Lazio, Coppa Sabatini, Coppa Placci, Trofeo Matteoti, GP di Lugano, GP Citta di Camaiore, Trofeo Soller).

Boonen has also 8 major wins (WC and 7 Monuments), which is bellow Bettini imo because of Paolo's WC and OG wins, as I mentioned in previous post. Further, Boonen has 4 WT level wins (3x GW + E3 Harelbeke 2012), just as much as Bettini. To clear things up, Boonen won E3 5 times, but only his last win falls in category of big classics win. Before 2012 E3 was not a WT race and the quality level was much lower then. It was basically just a preparation race for De Ronde. He also has 2 Nationals and also won some minor classics, couple of more then Bettini to be honest (3x Kuurne, 2x Scheldeprijs, Dwars dor Vlaanderen, 2x Paris-Brussels, Rund um Koln, London Surrey Classic, etc). So I would like you to name those 19 important classics which Boonen won!? :confused:

As you see, there's no big difference between those 2, results wise, in my opinion they're pretty equal. Boonen won little more, Bettini won slightly more important ones and wider variety of races. I told you already why I put Bettini first, and I think the difference is minimal. On the other hand you told that Boonen is clearly better, which is clearly not the case!

Agree with you. Debate make thing more clear.
Boonen is clear best cobbled stone classics rider. But not clear best classics.

Bettini is so strong. Shame, he is not as famous as cipollini or panatini in our region.
 
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Re:

Red Rick said:
Definitely rating Freire over Valverde in one day races.

This is an interesting one...

With a simple look at their respective one-day palmares, one would say Freire is easily better. He won 3 WC and 3 MSR, so he's got 6 big wins, compared with Valverde's 4 that's a clear advantage. But when we look at other significant wins, things are going in Valverde's favor. Freire won GW and Hamburg as far as WT races concerns. He won Paris-Tours in 2010 but it was not WT anymore and competition was weaker. Valverde on the other hand won 7 WT races, so he has a clear advantage here. As far as minor races concerns they both won fair share of it.

So we got situation where Freire is better at biggest races, and Bala is better at not as much important ones. That's still advantage for Freire imo, but not significant. But I would threw in the mix Valverde's unbelievable streak of 6 medals at WC and 5 more Monument podiums, while Freire has only 2. For me that's a tie.