Who had the best season in the last 20 years?

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Who had the best season in the last 20 years?

  • Gilbert 2011

    Votes: 47 46.1%
  • Cipollini 2002

    Votes: 2 2.0%
  • Cavendish 2009

    Votes: 5 4.9%
  • Pantani 1998

    Votes: 26 25.5%
  • Cancellara 2008

    Votes: 3 2.9%
  • Boonen 2005

    Votes: 6 5.9%
  • Petacchi 2003 or 2004

    Votes: 1 1.0%
  • Contador 2008

    Votes: 8 7.8%
  • Zabel 2001

    Votes: 4 3.9%

  • Total voters
    102
If rankings are skewed towards gc guys, it’s probably because winning gc is the hardest thing in the sport. If it wasn’t, everyone would do it. If there were a way to make GC more open to guys like Sagan/Gilbert, not to mention Ganna, maybe it would be more fair on them; Kelly and Moser had to take a LOT of time in sprint bonuses and TTs to take their GT wins.
GCs are also time consuming when you consider the altitude training and then the rest period after, though I suppose those riders can also clock up good points in the one week warm-up tours like the Dauphine.
Alternatively a rider placing well in most classics can mount up the same points in the same time (GVA iirc was high in the ranking some years without ever winning much) and then you get the likes of Demare (2020) and Philipsen (2021) accumulating high scores from 1.1 races that usually end in sprints.
 
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The title says 20, not 30.
Ooops, how did I misread that?

Anyway, it gives a point of comparison. There was a similar thread a few months ago, and going farther back on the PCS scale (Pogacar this year is 3214) revealed tha, Roche '87 was 'only' 3681, but Kelly averaged 4799 from 84 to 86, Merckx averaged 5748 from 1970 to 75. Conversely, Hinault's best was "only" 4223, and he was outpointed by Saronni that year (79)
 
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This thread.....


You have Pantani. Why bother putting in another GT centered rider? He won the magic double, so any 1 GT season is out by default, and as much as I like to fawn at Alberto Contador, Chris Horner really stopped Nibali from beating that only 5 years later.

Sprinter winning Worlds + classic +stages ain't good enough. Only possible sprinter in is Boonen 2005, and that's because of classics

Why Gilbert would be in is beyond me, it's effectively a season where he wins 1 monument, and one GT stage. Huge bunch of other races ofcourse, but I consider it worse than Cavendish in 2009.

And now I'm gonna barricade the door in case Pisti knows where I live


It's really between Boonen 2005, Sagan 2016 (similar classics seasons) and Pantani 1998. Classic greats winning multiple of the 7 biggest one day races in the world in a season is not unheard of, especially if they have a good sprint. If you add the worlds it becomes a bit more circumstantial, as it's pretty dependent on the worlds course.

The Giro-Tour double is widely considered impossible nowadays. Only once this decade has the best GT rider at the moment even tried it, and he got 1st and 5th, and he was the best GT rider by a huge margin at the time. The best climber of the world tried it this year. He got 2nd and 12th.

With all due respect to how great Boonen's and Sagan's seasons were, I'd take Pantani in a heartbeat any day, in any state.

Any other option is a mockery of the sport.

That's not considering the women's, which I think is a seperate debate entirely, and I only think it should be compared if competition is a lot more equal.
Classic thread.

Above is Red Rick at his Gilbert 2011 loving best.

For his take on Wiggins 2012 you need only scroll down on page 2 a little further :p
 
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Pogacar’s is the best season since 1987?
I think Roche's 1987 is the most recent season that is definitely better. There were some giro/tour doubles (Indurain and Pantani), a tour/vuelta double by Froome and Lemonds Tour+WC in 1989. Jalaberts 1995 was very impressive, but his points total simply negates the fact that the tour is by far the most important race of the year.
 
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Classic thread.

Above is Red Rick at his Gilbert 2011 loving best.

For his take on Wiggins 2012 you need only scroll down on page 2 a little further :p
Let's say I'm just still surprised how the best season in 20 years leads arguing about lesser wins and quantity of wins, which in turn is funny if you see the actual disdain for sprinters being included. And while I'm often all bout that big wins I think GT podiums tend to get shafted in such discussions.
 
What about Sagan in 2016? Gent Wevelgem, de Ronde, 3 tour stages + Green Jersey, World champion again, European champion, Gp Quebec, 3rd overall + 2 stages + points Jersey binckbank tour, 2 stages suisse, 2 stages california, 2nd e3, 2nd omloop, 2nd overall + points Jersey in Tirreno, 2nd Gp Montreal.

The only thing dissapinoiting was his Roubaix result. And he went to MTB race in rio for some fun
 
What about Sagan in 2016? Gent Wevelgem, de Ronde, 3 tour stages + Green Jersey, World champion again, European champion, Gp Quebec, 3rd overall + 2 stages + points Jersey binckbank tour, 2 stages suisse, 2 stages california, 2nd e3, 2nd omloop, 2nd overall + points Jersey in Tirreno, 2nd Gp Montreal.

The only thing dissapinoiting was his Roubaix result. And he went to MTB race in rio for some fun
Gaviria was most disappointing.
 
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Still have to go with Pantani if we extend it to 25 years. Different skill sets, of course. But Giro & Tour double is hard to beat for me. Both decisive wins, also.
I just can’t rate the Giro over winning both Liege and Lombardia in the same season, which is basically what you have to do to prefer Pantani. Particularly when the secondary wins are on Pogacar’s side of the scales too. So you’d have to rate the Giro as quite a bit better than two monuments in a season.

Three “big nine” races are better than two, unless the Tour is one of the two but missing from the three in which case there’s something to argue about. I’d rate Pantani’s big season ahead of Boonen’s one on that basis.
 
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I just can’t rate the Giro over winning both Liege and Lombardia in the same season, which is basically what you have to do to prefer Pantani. Particularly when the secondary wins are on Pogacar’s side of the scales too.

Three “big nine” races are better than two, unless the Tour is one of the two but missing from the three in which case there’s something to argue about. I’d rate Pantani’s big season ahead of Boonen’s one on that basis.
Ah, but it's not just the Giro in addition to the Tour, it's the extra from winning both. I think the classics equivalent would be to win Roubaix and Liège in the same year. That's also far more impressive than the two on their own.

Valverde was able to handle a schedule even more demanding than Pogi's from 2013-2015, but the Giro-Tour double is a different beast, although Froome and Dumoulin have shown that it is still feasible.
 
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Ah, but it's not just the Giro in addition to the Tour, it's the extra from winning both. I think the classics equivalent would be to win Roubaix and Liège in the same year. That's also far more impressive than the two on their own.
Giro Tour has been done more frequently than Tour LBL Lombardia, right? And really, even giving Tour Giro some kind of bonus points over and above the Giro’s actual worth, I don’t think it reaches Tour plus two others of the big nine. And certainly its not better by enough of a margin to also account for Pogacar’s better set of secondary wins.

I suppose I just think that taking a full third of the big 9 in one year is extremely special, particularly when the Tour is included.
 
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Ah, but it's not just the Giro in addition to the Tour, it's the extra from winning both. I think the classics equivalent would be to win Roubaix and Liège in the same year. That's also far more impressive than the two on their own.

Valverde was able to handle a schedule even more demanding than Pogi's from 2013-2015, but the Giro-Tour double is a different beast, although Froome and Dumoulin have shown that it is still feasible.
Is it possible that we overrate Pantani's GT double in 98, given that Indurain did the same thing in basically the same era (and twice, back to back, call it a "double double")?

I think it's also to do with his attacking riding on the climbs (panache), and that he hadn't even won one GT prior to 98, so to do a double (and the hardest double) was even more unexpected.

As far as I know, Marco never achieved much of anything in one day races, and arguably won the 98 Tour as much for Jan's bad day as for his own amazing day. Whereas most seem to believe that it wouldn't have made much difference if Roglic hadn't of crashed out in this year's Tour, Le Grand Bornand probably would have still happened.

Perhaps Pantani being less dominant actually makes his season more impressive? Anyway, it's an interesting discussion.
 
Giro Tour has been done more frequently than Tour LBL Lombardia, right? And really, even giving Tour Giro some kind of bonus points over and above the Giro’s actual worth, I don’t think it reaches Tour plus two others of the big nine. And certainly its not better by enough of a margin to also account for Pogacar’s better set of secondary wins.

I suppose I just think that taking a full third of the big 9 in one year is extremely special, particularly when the Tour is included.
There's greater variance in one-day races than in GTs, and there's greater prestige (also historically) in the Giro-Tour double, so more of the most dominant riders have targeted it.

I think Liège-Tour-Lombardia was feasible for someone like Lance (if he really cared about it), more so than the Giro-Tour double. It's certainly far easier to win the Tour in the former scenario than in the latter.
 
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There's greater variance in one-day races than in GTs, and there's greater prestige (also historically) in the Giro-Tour double, so more of the most dominant riders have targeted it.

I think Liège-Tour-Lombardia was feasible for someone like Lance (if he really cared about it), more so than the Giro-Tour double. It's certainly far easier to win the Tour in the former scenario than in the latter.
I can see Lance winning Giro/Tour tbh, IIRC quite some riders used to so semi decent Giro/Tour doubles in the early 2000s more so than in the late 2000/early 2010s. I'd also assume the variability in races like Liege and Lombardia was a lot higher than now, as well as Lombardia I think having a much climber friendlier parcours than it used to have.

Now it's hard for me to say which is more likely for Pogacar tbh. We know he did the Liege/Tour/Lombardia set, but how much of a favorite was he in hindsight and how likely would he be to repeat that vs a Giro/Tour double?

I still lean towards a Giro/Tour double being harder for Pogi, mostly because of how tired he was after the Olympics.
 
Is it possible that we overrate Pantani's GT double in 98, given that Indurain did the same thing in basically the same era (and twice, back to back, call it a "double double")?

I think it's also to do with his attacking riding on the climbs (panache), and that he hadn't even won one GT prior to 98, so to do a double (and the hardest double) was even more unexpected.

As far as I know, Marco never achieved much of anything in one day races, and arguably won the 98 Tour as much for Jan's bad day as for his own amazing day. Whereas most seem to believe that it wouldn't have made much difference if Roglic hadn't of crashed out in this year's Tour, Le Grand Bornand probably would have still happened.

Perhaps Pantani being less dominant actually makes his season more impressive? Anyway, it's an interesting discussion.
If there’s a question over Pantani’s Tour win, it’s not Ulli’s bad day, it’s the Festina-shaped asterisk over the whole race. He beat a half-size peloton.

I don’t think it’s overrated, though; it hasn’t been done in 23 years and counting, even while a few other doubles have been achieved in the same time, and a few of the top GT riders of the era have attempted it, which tells a lot about how hard it has become.
 
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Comparing Pogacar's and Pantani's season is actually really interesting the more I think about it.

First of all LBL + Lombardia vs the Giro is a little tricky. Personally I think a sole Giro victory is more prestigious though I do see the arguments for two monuments being bigger than one GT (that's not the Tour). I think it mostly comes down to whether you value all monuments equally, which I don't. PR + LBL for example feels a lot closer to a Giro win for me.

However even more important for me is the fact that the Giro-Tour double is much more than two simple wins. It's something that has become absolutely mythical and therefore much more valuable than just the two wins on their own. It's this really unique thing where a certain result has become increasingly unlikely in today's much more professionalized sporting landscape but that still doesn't quite seem out of reach. Like, nobody is expecting anyone today to have seasons like Mercx used to where he just rides every somewhat big race on the calendar and aims to win all of them. Nowaday's it's only possible to aim for a limited number of races and aming for the Giro and the Tour is right where nobody can quite agree on whether it's still doable or not.

But then funnily enough for me this is an argument for Pogacar and not for Pantani. Sure, the Giro-Tour double was super prestigious back in Pantani's days too but then I have 0 doubt that it was nowhere near as mythical as it would be today. Since Pantani's win there have been 23 possible doubles. In the 23 years before Pantani the double was achieved 7 times by four different riders. And he's kinda lucky here that I picked precisely 1997-1975 to look at since right before that Mercx achieved this four times out of five years from 1970 to 1974. Was Pantani's achievement extremely impressive? Sure, but it was "only" something the best gc riders tended to do quite frequently at the time. If Pogacar was to do the double next year I would immediately put that achievment above Pantani's 1998 season.

So in summary what that means is just that I don't really know which season to put higher because I can't rank Pantani's season in the context of its time. But it's definitely not super clear.
 
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I'm not really into this rating thing, some things just cannot be compared and you end up apples to oranges too easily. Two aspects I would like to add (or maybe someone has stated that already, I only flew over the posts):
  • Tour and Giro is way tougher on endurance, it needs a GT rider who can hold this amazing level for weeks and then again weeks. But a monument requires a different skill-set than a GT, so in order to win both in the same year you need more versatility, and if it's two monuments it requires an even broader skillset, even though LBL and Lombardia are not that different from each other.
  • Although a win of the UAE Tour isn't very prestigious, it was the first big race of the year, the level of contenders was pretty good, and Pogacar was already there, in great form. Then the Tour was in the middle of the year. And then Lombardia was the last big race of the year. So he had to spread his peaks over the whole year.
 
I'm not really into this rating thing, some things just cannot be compared and you end up apples to oranges too easily. Two aspects I would like to add (or maybe someone has stated that already, I only flew over the posts):
  • Tour and Giro is way tougher on endurance, it needs a GT rider who can hold this amazing level for weeks and then again weeks. But a monument requires a different skill-set than a GT, so in order to win both in the same year you need more versatility, and if it's two monuments it requires an even broader skillset, even though LBL and Lombardia are not that different from each other.
  • Although a win of the UAE Tour isn't very prestigious, it was the first big race of the year, the level of contenders was pretty good, and Pogacar was already there, in great form. Then the Tour was in the middle of the year. And then Lombardia was the last big race of the year. So he had to spread his peaks over the whole year.
He peaked for UAE and Tirreno, then again for Liege, then again for tdf where his strength was unfathomable, then again for Lombardia.

In the past tour winners had so much taken out of them from the effort that they didn't do much the rest of the season.
 
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He peaked for UAE and Tirreno, then again for Liege, then again for tdf where his strength was unfathomable, then again for Lombardia.

In the past tour winners had so much taken out of them from the effort that they didn't do much the rest of the season.
…or else they went to the Vuelta and won it, like Froome.


I think a lot of our thinking on this is clouded by the fact that GT racing was dominated for a decade by a guy who didn’t care much about winning classics (once his focus switched to Grand Tours anyway. Well, one Grand Tour).
 
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I'm a huuge Pantani fan but in the retrospect (let alone all the clinic stuff and circumstances), was the Giro-Tour double that mythical when Pantani made it? Very few riders have done it, I know, but the best GT riders have done it (or nearly done it, perhaps) relatively often. It became much harder recently because of the fact that biggest GT rider of the current generation rarely tried it.
First serious attempt since Pantani was Contador in 2011 and, despite I never liked Contador, I believe he'd be much closer to do it is stars aligned a bit better, to put it that way.
Then we've had Tom D and Froome in 2018 (I don't count Contador 2015, as at the time he was not the best GT rider) and they were really away from doing it. Honestly, I believe 2013/15/16 Froome with SKY would be able to do it had he tried it.
How many riders would've won 2 monuments and the Tour if they tried that in the last...30 years ?
 
Comparing Pogacar's and Pantani's season is actually really interesting the more I think about it.

First of all LBL + Lombardia vs the Giro is a little tricky. Personally I think a sole Giro victory is more prestigious though I do see the arguments for two monuments being bigger than one GT (that's not the Tour). I think it mostly comes down to whether you value all monuments equally, which I don't. PR + LBL for example feels a lot closer to a Giro win for me.

However even more important for me is the fact that the Giro-Tour double is much more than two simple wins. It's something that has become absolutely mythical and therefore much more valuable than just the two wins on their own. It's this really unique thing where a certain result has become increasingly unlikely in today's much more professionalized sporting landscape but that still doesn't quite seem out of reach. Like, nobody is expecting anyone today to have seasons like Mercx used to where he just rides every somewhat big race on the calendar and aims to win all of them. Nowaday's it's only possible to aim for a limited number of races and aming for the Giro and the Tour is right where nobody can quite agree on whether it's still doable or not.

But then funnily enough for me this is an argument for Pogacar and not for Pantani. Sure, the Giro-Tour double was super prestigious back in Pantani's days too but then I have 0 doubt that it was nowhere near as mythical as it would be today. Since Pantani's win there have been 23 possible doubles. In the 23 years before Pantani the double was achieved 7 times by four different riders. And he's kinda lucky here that I picked precisely 1997-1975 to look at since right before that Mercx achieved this four times out of five years from 1970 to 1974. Was Pantani's achievement extremely impressive? Sure, but it was "only" something the best gc riders tended to do quite frequently at the time. If Pogacar was to do the double next year I would immediately put that achievment above Pantani's 1998 season.

So in summary what that means is just that I don't really know which season to put higher because I can't rank Pantani's season in the context of its time. But it's definitely not super clear.
They're very hard to compare because they're extremely hard to accomplish to achieve for very different reasons. One is physically almost impossible, the other is physically far easier but just has extremely high variance.

As for the context of time, while specialization has made monument + GT, especially monuments outside GdL and LBL far less common, we can also argue that especially GdL has never been as climber friendly as it has been in recent years and has basically never been as low variance for a top climber as it was before.

IMO the Giro/Tour double is physically harder and especially the opportunity costs are far greater than Pogacar. Pogacar did a Tour centric season with 3 seperate targets which is a relatively common occurence. This also enabled him to compete in other races and pad his stats. If you aim for the Giro and Tour, you sacrifice nearly everything else. You have 2 goals, you have to win them both. And if *** hits the fan in the Giro that carries over to likely being *** for the Tour.

For Pogacar the goals were much less correlated. He didn't really risk the Tour in Liege, and he never risked Lombardia in the Tour. They're practically unrelated events. In fact, Pogacar had a shot at an even more legendary season with Olympic Gold but he didn't win there. Add to that you might also have a much more suitable Worlds course in such a year.

Lastly I'm not that keen on making large distinctions between different monuments, cause it adds even more subjectivity to it all. But at least we're not at the level of using Tour of Slovenia as a tiebreaker or some ***.
 
I'm a huuge Pantani fan but in the retrospect (let alone all the clinic stuff and circumstances), was the Giro-Tour double that mythical when Pantani made it? Very few riders have done it, I know, but the best GT riders have done it (or nearly done it, perhaps) relatively often. It became much harder recently because of the fact that biggest GT rider of the current generation rarely tried it.
First serious attempt since Pantani was Contador in 2011 and, despite I never liked Contador, I believe he'd be much closer to do it is stars aligned a bit better, to put it that way.
Then we've had Tom D and Froome in 2018 (I don't count Contador 2015, as at the time he was not the best GT rider) and they were really away from doing it. Honestly, I believe 2013/15/16 Froome with SKY would be able to do it had he tried it.
How many riders would've won 2 monuments and the Tour if they tried that in the last...30 years ?
Basso attempted it in 2005, and planned to do so again in 2006.
 

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