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Teams & Riders Who are The Top 10 Climbers of All Time

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Instead, I'll list my own top-10 of pure mountain riders in random order.

Charly 'Grimpeur ailé' Gaul
Marco 'Elefantino' Pantani
Luis 'Lucho' Alberto Herrera
Lucien 'de kleine van Mere' van Impe
Gino 'L'intramontabile' Bartali
Federico 'El Águila de Toledo' Bahamontes
José 'El Chava' María Jiménez
Fausto 'Il Campionissimo' Coppi
Raymond 'PouPou' Poulidor
Julio 'La pulga de Ávila' Jiménez
Screaming in anguish at omission of José Manuel 'el Tarangu' Fuente.

I do like the idea of taking the top pure climbers of their eras as a yardstick, and then being able to judge the climbing of the GC all-rounders relative to those. Sadly today it's less feasible as the depth in the bunch meaning fewer time gaps are opened by flat stages, and the increase in the number of MTFs and concurrent decrease in TT mileage, means there's little reason the kind of rider who would be seen as a 'pure climber' and that alone in yesteryear wouldn't see themselves as a front-line GC rider (think the likes of Miguel Ángel López, Nairo Quintana or Mikel Landa).

Yes, the one-dimensional climbers may have been the romantic favourites, but they had to be truly special to actually win a GT due to the all-round demands on GC riders back in those days. It's why pure climbers from those eras who won GTs - van Impe, Fuente, Bahamontes - are particularly fondly remembered. But rating them directly against one another, Herrera won one Vuelta, while Quintana has won a Giro and a Vuelta and has higher Tour de France finishes - but I'm not ready to anoint Quintana the stronger climber than Lucho and in all likelihood never will be; that's not to denigrate Quintana who is clearly one of the best climbers of his own generation, but the differences in their respective palmarès are largely the products of the generations they raced in and a rider of that skillset has far more opportunity to win high profile races today than they did 40 years ago when Herrera arrived on the scene.

But for generations up to and including Armstrong's, it's a good way of judging the climbing levels of the big guns.
 
Really good question.

Claudio Chiappucci
Richard Virenque
Lucien van Impe
Federico Bahamontes
Julio Jiménez
Marcocaine Pantani
Tyler's Twin
Gilberto Simoni 😇
Stage 17 Landis
Hautacam Riis
Birillo Basso

All the new guys can't climb like the clinic boys.
 
*edit2: OK, so just looked up the internet and found below attempt, made more years ago:
Cycling’s Twenty-One Greatest Climbers
It's a bit alternative to say the least:
  1. Gaul
  2. Coppi
  3. Pantani
  4. Bahamontes
  5. Bartali
  6. Merckx
  7. Ocaña
  8. Buysse
  9. Pottier
  10. Vietto
  11. Fuente
  12. Jiménez, Julio
  13. Valetti
  14. Van Impe
  15. Poulidor
  16. Binda
  17. Bitossi
  18. Anquetil
  19. Taccone
  20. Trueba
  21. Thys
"So how to rank the riders? I have chosen the subjective standard of the degree to which they dominated their peers in the high mountains."

Yet Anquetil features despite never crossing a mountain pass in the Tour as the first rider. Van Impe is the second most recent rider, only Pantani is listed of riders after him. I guess nobody dominated the 1980's or the 2000's.
 
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Why so agressive brother i am new to cycling and just curious about some things and u just making fun out of me.
Samu has never been known to be aggressive. He’s a travelling troubadour, too deep to be appreciated by the general public but too true to his spirit to compromise. He continues to be an inspiration to birds of the same feather who flock on the forum of doom.
Samu is a top ten poster.
Inspirational thread, by the way.
 
Taking all things into consideration and accepting its impossible to compare across eras, it's either Gaul or Pantani and maybe Coppi.
I don't see how we can have Pog near the list when he has been absolutely brutalised so many times into he last 2 years. Vingo might make it into the top 3 if he keeps his trajectory.
 
Screaming in anguish at omission of José Manuel 'el Tarangu' Fuente.
How could I miss this one? Pardon!
I do like the idea of taking the top pure climbers of their eras as a yardstick, and then being able to judge the climbing of the GC all-rounders relative to those. Sadly today it's less feasible as the depth in the bunch meaning fewer time gaps are opened by flat stages, and the increase in the number of MTFs and concurrent decrease in TT mileage, means there's little reason the kind of rider who would be seen as a 'pure climber' and that alone in yesteryear wouldn't see themselves as a front-line GC rider (think the likes of Miguel Ángel López, Nairo Quintana or Mikel Landa).

Yes, the one-dimensional climbers may have been the romantic favourites, but they had to be truly special to actually win a GT due to the all-round demands on GC riders back in those days. It's why pure climbers from those eras who won GTs - van Impe, Fuente, Bahamontes - are particularly fondly remembered. But rating them directly against one another, Herrera won one Vuelta, while Quintana has won a Giro and a Vuelta and has higher Tour de France finishes - but I'm not ready to anoint Quintana the stronger climber than Lucho and in all likelihood never will be; that's not to denigrate Quintana who is clearly one of the best climbers of his own generation, but the differences in their respective palmarès are largely the products of the generations they raced in and a rider of that skillset has far more opportunity to win high profile races today than they did 40 years ago when Herrera arrived on the scene.

But for generations up to and including Armstrong's, it's a good way of judging the climbing levels of the big guns.
One of my points why a 1:1 comparison between climbers through different decades is a meaningless impossibility.

IMHO the new trend with GC riders adding high mountain climbing as their top competence already started with Indurain, where I would almost say there was a landmark change before/after 1991 Jaca - Val Louron, after which Banesto's rate of killer pace also on flat stretches like that could target the weaver, small riders who were mountain riders in their purest form. La Vie Claire with Lemond/Hinault did not do this to same extend.

But ofc way more pronounced and refined in the US Postal years, not to mention the marginal Sky gains era.
 
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Really good question.

Claudio Chiappucci
Richard Virenque
Lucien van Impe
Federico Bahamontes
Julio Jiménez
Marcocaine Pantani
Tyler's Twin
Gilberto Simoni 😇
Stage 17 Landis
Hautacam Riis
Birillo Basso

All the new guys can't climb like the clinic boys.
Virenque in this list is either a joke or a severe can of fanatical support. The guy could only ever win from breaks not head to head against the top riders. He won when he had the freedom to move because he was several minutes down on GC.
 
Taking all things into consideration and accepting its impossible to compare across eras, it's either Gaul or Pantani and maybe Coppi.
I don't see how we can have Pog near the list when he has been absolutely brutalised so many times into he last 2 years. Vingo might make it into the top 3 if he keeps his trajectory.
Why not? Just because he is up against a guy climbing at legendary standards therefore has a few heavy losses to him doesn’t make it any less the case that Pogacar is also an elite tier climber in history.

That would be like saying Wout Van Aert can’t be a top 5 all time cyclocross rider because head to head MVDP z has the lions share of wins.
 
How could I miss this one? Pardon!

One of my points why a 1:1 comparison between climbers through different decades is a meaningless impossibility.

IMHO the new trend with GC riders adding high mountain climbing as their top competence already started with Indurain, where I would almost say there was a landmark change before/after 1991 Jaca - Val Louron, after which Banesto's rate of killer pace also on flat stretches like that could target the weaver, small riders who were mountain riders in their purest form. La Vie Claire with Lemond/Hinault did not do this to same extend.

But ofc way more pronounced and refined in the US Postal years, not to mention the marginal Sky gains era.
Reynolds/Banesto had already done this with Delgado in the mid to late 80s. He was hardly a top TTer especially when he missed his start time.
 
Reynolds/Banesto had already done this with Delgado in the mid to late 80s. He was hardly a top TTer especially when he missed his start time.
Well, the team controlled with Delgado too, but they didn't tighten the rope to that extend as witnessed later together with the later transformation of GC riders into mountain specialists.
The stages during the Delgado years were still much more up for grabs, even with Indu as a domestique
Take Delgado's winning year with the exploits of Fabio Parra and Laudelino Cubino, both ace climbers in its purest meaning, from an era where this rider type could do the difference being dark horse GC threads.
As I remember the Parra stage in the Alps (forgot the exact MTF location but high mountains), Reynolds let him off, Parra taking a huge journey of a solo break, chased by Delgado, Rooks, Jérome Simon, Claveyrolat, etc. But there was no control, even though Parra with more hard MTF's ahead could be a real GC thread.

Oh, now I mentioned another one.

Thierry Claveyrolat.

My favourite climber these few Tour years. Should never be forgotten

Nota bene: no it doesn't help on your TT results missing ramp start time at the prologue, still remember where I was and what I was doing while watching the bizarre situation on live TV.
 
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Why must the list of climbers be populated by the so called “pure climbers”? If an all rounder is a better climber than a “pure climber”, isn’t he then higher on the list of best climbers than the pure climber which gets beaten in the climbs by the said allrounder? Ok, I agree that Pantani was probably the best climber in his time (1995 - 1999) but the rest of them? Some of the names listed here were getting their asses handed to them by Armstrong every time he made a real effort… And if Pantani‘s results count, well, so should Armstrong’s…

Not to mention that since we are trying to take into account the lesser gear and training approach in different eras, we should also consider some other stuff that was characteristic for some eras which we should not speak of… All this makes absolute comparison of riders from different eras fruitless. Best you can do is compare relative strength of a rider compared to the rest of the field at that time. Of course we’ll never know the quality of the field in that case.
 
Why must the list of climbers be populated by the so called “pure climbers”? If an all rounder is a better climber than a “pure climber”, isn’t he then higher on the list of best climbers than the pure climber which gets beaten in the climbs by the said allrounder? Ok, I agree that Pantani was probably the best climber in his time (1995 - 1999) but the rest of them? Some of the names listed here were getting their asses handed to them by Armstrong every time he made a real effort… And if Pantani‘s results count, well, so should Armstrong’s…

Not to mention that since we are trying to take into account the lesser gear and training approach in different eras, we should also consider some other stuff that was characteristic for some eras which we should not speak of… All this makes absolute comparison of riders from different eras fruitless. Best you can do is compare relative strength of a rider compared to the rest of the field at that time. Of course we’ll never know the quality of the field in that case.
I'm just mentioning this since we would certainly have witnessed the display of pure climbers as top climbers in main stage races in this millenium, had we not had teams like USP, Sky and Jumbo killing thr thread from tiny climbers by tightrning the rope in an aggressive way.
 
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Why not? Just because he is up against a guy climbing at legendary standards therefore has a few heavy losses to him doesn’t make it any less the case that Pogacar is also an elite tier climber in history.

That would be like saying Wout Van Aert can’t be a top 5 all time cyclocross rider because head to head MVDP z has the lions share of wins.
Its the manner of the losses
A) absolutely destroyed
B) when it really counted
C) not just his main rival dropping him. Snce you mentioned him, he got caned by WvA.
He's young and may drop a few pounds and commit to grand tour racing, but at the minute I can't see it at all.
 
The amount of rocket fuel Denifl must have used to win that vuelta stage , I'm surprised his eyeballs didn't fall out of his skull. Austria had some of the best random dopers
Funnily enough, he never actually tested positive. Only got caught because his name was on the list of a doping doctor whose network was uncovered after an anti doping raid against some XC skiers. But I guess that's a discussion for a different forum.

On another note, I actually only don't care about spots 3 to 10. Number two is clearly Bernhard Kohl.
 
Why not? Just because he is up against a guy climbing at legendary standards therefore has a few heavy losses to him doesn’t make it any less the case that Pogacar is also an elite tier climber in history.

That would be like saying Wout Van Aert can’t be a top 5 all time cyclocross rider because head to head MVDP z has the lions share of wins.
Yeah, this makes judgement pretty impossible imo. Of course the dominators come to mind, but how to really judge what they would do in another field, and what would the first/second/... among the dominated do in another field. Without Vingegaard pogacar would not be any better but probably would have completely obliterated three tours by now and might be considered a top 5 all time climber. Without Pog and Vinge this might go for Roglic. Maybe contador and merckx in the last tours would dominate even vingegaard, maybe they would fight for third with yates and thomas.
 
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