What makes a great classics rider?

Mar 31, 2010
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Sprinters are usually bigger with just more raw power.
Climbers are usually smaller with high power/weight ratios.
What about the classics great?
Why is Boonen a good classics rider and Cav isn't?

KC
 
Apr 9, 2009
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First off a Classics rider usually has a bigger or at least more muscular frame than your average Pro which facilitates a greater sustained power output on flat and rolling terrain. Second I'm going to guess: a very good 5 minute power output i.e. VO2 max power and the ability to repeat said 5 minute power many times. This would be for huge efforts across cobbled sections in Paris Roubaix and up the short steep hills of Flanders.

Next we are seeing an emerging subspecies of the Ardennes Classics specialist. This is simply a rider whose speciality is short hills, i.e. very high anaerobic capacity / 1 minute power output. Examples Cunego, Valverde, F Schleck.

Long story short: power/weight ratio is always important in all types of bike racing but the Classics rider is skewed far more toward the numerator in the equation of high power output because there are no mountains to climb over in the Classics.
 

flicker

BANNED
Aug 17, 2009
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BikeCentric said:
First off a Classics rider usually has a bigger or at least more muscular frame than your average Pro which facilitates a greater sustained power output on flat and rolling terrain. Second I'm going to guess: a very good 5 minute power output i.e. VO2 max power and the ability to repeat said 5 minute power many times. This would be for huge efforts across cobbled sections in Paris Roubaix and up the short steep hills of Flanders.

Next we are seeing an emerging subspecies of the Ardennes Classics specialist. This is simply a rider whose speciality is short hills, i.e. very high anaerobic capacity / 1 minute power output. Examples Cunego, Valverde, F Schleck.

Long story short: power/weight ratio is always important in all types of bike racing but the Classics rider is skewed far more toward the numerator in the equation of high power output because there are no mountains to climb over in the Classics.
Cunego and F. Schleck ain't jack without the dope and they have been warned. Valverde may have the pure talent without the dope. We will have to see.

I think Lars Boom might be able to win classics someday.
 
Jun 9, 2009
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Part of being a rgeat classics rider is studying the events and catering training pecific to the demands of the race. Most classics winners have the experience of several seasons of riding then prior to attaining victory.

Cav's Milan-San Remo voctory has been attributed as much to the advice and coaching of Zabel as his sprinting ability.

Classics riders have to be mentally tough and posess the bike handling skills needed to navigate rough roads in bad weather.

Having a team focussed on winning the classics helps a lot.
 
Apr 29, 2009
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For me the common attribute amongst the best northern classics riders is having gigantic balls.

Seriously, Canc is a Time Triallist, yet Boonen is a sprinter. Flecha can't do either. Pozzato has a decent sprint but not world beating. Yet they all love and do well in March.

To be a top classics rider, you need to REALLY love the classics, be over 70kg or there abouts to absorb the punishment and put out the power on the flat, and just be hard as nails.

I wonder if guys like Hoste and Flecha have exceptional power numbers compared to the rest of the peloton...I would think not. Just experience in those kind of races. Cancellara was a bad example, that guy is obviously as good as it gets.
 
Aug 6, 2009
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Ibanez said:
For me the common attribute amongst the best northern classics riders is having gigantic balls.

Seriously, Canc is a Time Triallist, yet Boonen is a sprinter. Flecha can't do either. Pozzato has a decent sprint but not world beating. Yet they all love and do well in March.

To be a top classics rider, you need to REALLY love the classics, be over 70kg or there abouts to absorb the punishment and put out the power on the flat, and just be hard as nails.
Breschel is doing really well at the moment and he's not very big. Wikipedia says 68 kg, but I don't know the source for that. Used to say 61, so I'm not sure how accurate it is. I think that he is relatively small though.
 
Apr 29, 2009
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That's strange, he looks big enough to me during live footage and photos. No way was he ever 61kg, that's as light as Contador. Hell, I'm 64kg and I can tell Breschel is a lot bigger then me.

Hammond is tiny for a classics guy, I met him and he is pretty short. Stocky as anything though.
 
Ibanez said:
For me the common attribute amongst the best northern classics riders is having gigantic balls.

Seriously, Canc is a Time Triallist, yet Boonen is a sprinter. Flecha can't do either. Pozzato has a decent sprint but not world beating. Yet they all love and do well in March.

To be a top classics rider, you need to REALLY love the classics, be over 70kg or there abouts to absorb the punishment and put out the power on the flat, and just be hard as nails.

I wonder if guys like Hoste and Flecha have exceptional power numbers compared to the rest of the peloton...I would think not. Just experience in those kind of races. Cancellara was a bad example, that guy is obviously as good as it gets.
I think Spartacus is a great example! You would never see Bert Grabsch--a strong TTer with a huge frame--competing for the win in Roubaix or Flanders. But Canc? He's just got that grit. The same as Boonen, Flecha, et al.

I really love seeing guys like Ballan and Pippo do well in the classics, too. Ballan looks so long & lean, way to frail for these races, yet he throws down with the best of them. And Pozzato, known as a pretty boy--but put him in the Hell of the North and he starts breathing fire.

And then the guys who, for the rest of the year are upper-mid level all-rounders at best, like Chavanel, or workhorses, like Hincapie. They just get on the stones and eat the pain. Remember O'Grady's win in 07? Amazing!

I love these races. (And it's not just for the sandwiches. But I do love those, too.)
 
In my opinion you have to do only two things to be a real great classics rider:

1) win at least 3 different classics
2) win at least 2 of them several times

So Boonen, Cancellara and Freire aren't real grat classic riders (yet)

(classics are: San remo, Flanders, Roubaix, Zurich, Tours and Lombardy, still in doubt about Gold Race)

edit: i forgot LBL as classic , Gent-Wevelgem, Fleche Wallone, and maybe Milano-Torino, Giro nell Emilia and Paris-Bruxelles can be considered as "classic races"
 
Mar 18, 2009
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rghysens said:
In my opinion you have to do only two things to be a real great classics rider:

1) win at least 3 different classics
2) win at least 2 of them several times

So Boonen, Cancellara and Freire aren't real grat classic riders (yet)

(classics are: San remo, Flanders, Roubaix, Zurich, Tours and Lombardy, still in doubt about Gold Race)
I may disagree a little on Boonen...
 
Mar 15, 2010
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rghysens said:
In my opinion you have to do only two things to be a real great classics rider:

1) win at least 3 different classics
2) win at least 2 of them several times

So Boonen, Cancellara and Freire aren't real grat classic riders (yet)

(classics are: San remo, Flanders, Roubaix, Zurich, Tours and Lombardy, still in doubt about Gold Race)
TRDean said:
I may disagree a little on Boonen...
I may disagree a little more on that definition of classics.
 
Mar 11, 2009
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rghysens said:
In my opinion you have to do only two things to be a real great classics rider:

1) win at least 3 different classics
2) win at least 2 of them several times

So Boonen, Cancellara and Freire aren't real grat classic riders (yet)

(classics are: San remo, Flanders, Roubaix, Zurich, Tours and Lombardy, still in doubt about Gold Race)
Zurich? Great race, but the Gold Race is at least in the same category by now. I'd also add Gent-Wevelgem to be honest.
You could even add Fleche Wallone and Gent-Gent/Het Volk/Nieuwsblad if you count Tours as a classic. Tours is meh, it's supposed to be old but the route changes have been so big it's not even the same race anymore.
 
flicker said:
Cunego and F. Schleck ain't jack without the dope and they have been warned. Valverde may have the pure talent without the dope. We will have to see.
Fränky Boy and Piti I'll give you, but Cunego? The guy who wears his anti-doping stance on his sleeve literally?

The guy isn't going to be winning the Giro without dope, and he himself has alluded to as much (during last year's Giro). But he's got the talent to get over the smaller climbs of the likes of Amstel Gold and Lombardia senza dopado.
 
Apr 1, 2010
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rghysens said:
In my opinion you have to do only two things to be a real great classics rider:

1) win at least 3 different classics
2) win at least 2 of them several times

So Boonen, Cancellara and Freire aren't real grat classic riders (yet)

(classics are: San remo, Flanders, Roubaix, Zurich, Tours and Lombardy, still in doubt about Gold Race)
I must disagree on your definition of "Classics."

You don't even include all the Monuments (missing LBL).

Not only that...things have specialized so much (cobbles vs climbs) that you really should split these.

Boonen will be considered one of the great cobbled classics riders. 3 P-R and 2 Tours of Flanders must put him up there with the best. Even Roger DeVlamink (sp?) only won Flanders one time (and it was a bit of a hollow win at that). I doubt anyone would say old Roger was not a great.
 
Apr 9, 2009
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JAB1973 said:
Boonen will be considered one of the great cobbled classics riders. 3 P-R and 2 Tours of Flanders must put him up there with the best. Even Roger DeVlamink (sp?) only won Flanders one time (and it was a bit of a hollow win at that). I doubt anyone would say old Roger was not a great.
Agree, Boonen is already an all-time great Classics rider and will likely add to his status if he can keep his nose clean.
 
Mar 11, 2009
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JAB1973 said:
Even Roger DeVlamink (sp?) only won Flanders one time (and it was a bit of a hollow win at that). I doubt anyone would say old Roger was not a great.

But he also won LBL, FW, Metzgete, Lombardy twice and Sanremo 3 times.
De Vlaeminck was one of the greatest classic riders of all time. Plus his career saw him battling with both Merckx and Hinault, arguably the greatest riders ever.

Boonen is awesome but not diverse enough. Winning Flanders and LBL in one career doesnt happen anymore anyway.

Boonen will certainly be remembered as a great specialist.
 
Apr 1, 2010
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I could see a LBL and TOF winner again...but not LBL and Roubaix anytime soon.

Another thing to be said for Boonen in the cobbled classics...he has the same number of wins in P-R and TOF as Eddy Merckx.
 
Mar 11, 2009
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JAB1973 said:
Another thing to be said for Boonen in the cobbled classics...he has the same number of wins in P-R and TOF as Eddy Merckx.
If he wins Tours he has a better palmares :D
 
Apr 29, 2009
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rghysens said:
In my opinion you have to do only two things to be a real great classics rider:

1) win at least 3 different classics
2) win at least 2 of them several times

So Boonen, Cancellara and Freire aren't real grat classic riders (yet)

(classics are: San remo, Flanders, Roubaix, Zurich, Tours and Lombardy, still in doubt about Gold Race)
Couldn't disagree more.

1. Cycling is about far more then wins, otherwise nobody would remember Poulidor. Pozzato hasn't won an awful lot since MSR, but nobody can deny he is a great classics rider. Same argument with Hincapie. E3 was Cancellara's first win in Belgium, but he had the reputation as a top class rider long before. Winning is important, but there are superb riders around who haven't managed to pull off that many wins.

By your logic, Zabel counts as a great, but somehow Boonen does not. Who is more revered amongst fans as a classics rider? Easy question, it ain't Zabel. Super as he is.

2. Your list is a bit odd, Zurich but no Fleche? Only one of those races still exists :eek: And Amstel is at least as prestigious as Zurich. Plus Paris Tours is cool and all, but if that makes your list Gent Wevelgem has to as well.
 
Mar 15, 2010
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Ibanez said:
Couldn't disagree more.

1. Cycling is about far more then wins, otherwise nobody would remember Poulidor. Pozzato hasn't won an awful lot since MSR, but nobody can deny he is a great classics rider. Same argument with Hincapie. E3 was Cancellara's first win in Belgium, but he had the reputation as a top class rider long before. Winning is important, but there are superb riders around who haven't managed to pull off that many wins.

By your logic, Zabel counts as a great, but somehow Boonen does not. Who is more revered amongst fans as a classics rider? Easy question, it ain't Zabel. Super as he is.

2. Your list is a bit odd, Zurich but no Fleche? Only one of those races still exists :eek: And Amstel is at least as prestigious as Zurich. Plus Paris Tours is cool and all, but if that makes your list Gent Wevelgem has to as well.
Don't you know that reasonable well thought out arguments have no place in an internet debate?
 
Apr 9, 2009
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ak-zaaf said:
But he also won LBL, FW, Metzgete, Lombardy twice and Sanremo 3 times.
De Vlaeminck was one of the greatest classic riders of all time. Plus his career saw him battling with both Merckx and Hinault, arguably the greatest riders ever.

Boonen is awesome but not diverse enough. Winning Flanders and LBL in one career doesnt happen anymore anyway.

Boonen will certainly be remembered as a great specialist.
I do think De Vlaeminck was the best Classics rider of all time.

Followed by (probably) Rik Van Looy and then King Kelly.
 
Jul 2, 2009
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One think that you need, which no-one seems to have mentioned, is a brain. A cycling brain.

The tactics are more complex than they are in a stage race and decisive moves happen much quicker, so a DS telling you what to do is less use.

It's all about reading your opponents and instictively knowing when to chase and when to attack. And when not to.
 

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