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Who is the best descender (modern time) ?

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Who is the best descender (modern time) ?

  • Tom Pidcock

    Votes: 27 26.7%
  • Jonas Vingegaard

    Votes: 2 2.0%
  • Chris Froome

    Votes: 1 1.0%
  • Richard Virenque

    Votes: 2 2.0%
  • Paolo Savoldelli

    Votes: 27 26.7%
  • Mathieu vd Poel

    Votes: 2 2.0%
  • Matej Mohorič

    Votes: 25 24.8%
  • other

    Votes: 2 2.0%
  • Nibali

    Votes: 8 7.9%
  • Sagan

    Votes: 5 5.0%

  • Total voters
    101
People always mention Nibali as the best descender, but I remember watching him dropped on descends by guys like Ion Izagirre, Jarlinson Pantano and Marek Rutkiewicz. He was definetely good but not as legendary as some people make him to be IMO.
Izagirre and Pantano were good descenders themselves. Nibali did not want to take any risk on that Joux Plane stage since his target were the Olympics and thus was clearly dropped. Anyways sometimes taking huge risks gets mixed with being a talented descender.

Nibali, Samu Sanchez were (very) good descenders for a GC rider.

Then you had Pinot, Reichenbach or Zakarin who were atrocious. Menchov was not a good descender as well, Enric Mas is also subpar.
 
People always mention Nibali as the best descender, but I remember watching him dropped on descends by guys like Ion Izagirre, Jarlinson Pantano and Marek Rutkiewicz. He was definetely good but not as legendary as some people make him to be IMO.
He was much more legendary than he'll ever get the credit for and your head should bow in deference when you speak his name.
 
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Ever since he blew up during the Madeleine descent in the 2010 TdF, I've thought Samu's descending skills were a bit overrated. Not that he was a bad descender (his Cuenca attack was one of the reasons I became a fan of him after all), but just that there were other riders on his level or better at the time.

However my judgment of the Madeleine massacre was probably also influenced by my disappointment that he didn't finish on the podium at the end of the race and by the fact that he lost that sprint to Andy Schleck.
 
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Scariest descent I've ever seen was Bonifazio in MSR. That was something else. That Pidcock descent in the Tour a couple of years ago, when he's overtaking on high speed corners was pretty insane too, as was his attack on the gravel when he won Strade Bianche. There was a Cancellara one too knocking around when he was overtaking team cars on corners at 90kph - crazy stuff.
 
People always mention Nibali as the best descender, but I remember watching him dropped on descends by guys like Ion Izagirre, Jarlinson Pantano and Marek Rutkiewicz. He was definetely good but not as legendary as some people make him to be IMO.
Nibali was actually not a super descender in the rain, which is ironic cause aside from descending he was great in the rain and *** weather

I do think there's a fair few riders who get a name as a particularly good or bad descender based on a low sample size, especially some riders who get name for being bad descenders before working on it and then improving it.

And then there's teh whole daring versus skill component. I'd say Carlos Rodriguez right now stands out as a guy who's a good descender but also more daredevil than skill.
 
People always mention Nibali as the best descender, but I remember watching him dropped on descends by guys like Ion Izagirre, Jarlinson Pantano and Marek Rutkiewicz. He was definetely good but not as legendary as some people make him to be IMO.
Agreed. No question he was a fantastic bike handler across all conditions, and better in that regard than any of his GT competitors, but not an elite descender. Very good, just not elite. IMO.

Not a criticism. Loved to watch that guy ride on any terrain.
 
Nibali was actually not a super descender in the rain, which is ironic cause aside from descending he was great in the rain and *** weather

I do think there's a fair few riders who get a name as a particularly good or bad descender based on a low sample size, especially some riders who get name for being bad descenders before working on it and then improving it.

And then there's teh whole daring versus skill component. I'd say Carlos Rodriguez right now stands out as a guy who's a good descender but also more daredevil than skill.
I think the daring vs skill arguments are also often conducted quite weirdly, people will keep saying Froome was a risky descender because he looked weird and not skillful even though he never crashed. In the end, you only know how much they really risked by how often they crash, which is basically never.
 
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I think the daring vs skill arguments are also often conducted quite weirdly, people will keep saying Froome was a risky descender because he looked weird and not skillful even though he never crashed. In the end, you only know how much they really risked by how often they crash, which is basically never.
I agree, I can't put myself in a place where I can assess the risks someone is taking. At the same time, as a bike rider, I feel like taking risks is an integral part of being a good descender. But I can only really know the risks I take, not others.

I felt like Savoldelli was a great descender, but I think a bit overrated by commentators on TV. He had a few incredible descents, but was also inconsistent. There were some descents where he needed time and couldn't get it, and they seemed technical enough. I'll call that a strong opinion loosely held, because if you haven't ridden the descent yourself, it can be pretty hard to evaluate in any real way. Some stuff looks technical but is so well banked and flowy that many good riders rip down them, and it's hard to grab time. There were for sure times when Savoldelli impressed, but other times when I was like..."well...let's see it" and it didn't happen.

When I look at who I think is a good descender, I look at the lines folks are taking, conditions, speed, and who/how many they are overtaking. I look at it through the "Would/could I do that?" filter. That makes certain riders stand out.

For me Pidcock is the guy who just makes me stand up and take notice. The lines he takes, the gaps he closes, the angles he puts the bike into, the gaps he stuffs himself into...just amazing. He sees holes that don't even look like they exist and is into and out of them so quickly. And he does it on any terrain, any kind of descent. I don't think I've ever enjoyed watching a rider go downhill more than watching Tom. Brilliant.
 
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I think the daring vs skill arguments are also often conducted quite weirdly, people will keep saying Froome was a risky descender because he looked weird and not skillful even though he never crashed. In the end, you only know how much they really risked by how often they crash, which is basically never.
Froome was in that weird place where initially he was just objectively bad, then he rectified that problem and became okay, then he became overrated because of the surprise attack on the Peyresourde. In terms of technicality and cornering technique he never stood out to me in the positive way.
I agree, I can't put myself in a place where I can assess the risks someone is taking. At the same time, as a bike rider, I feel like taking risks is an integral part of being a good descender. But I can only really know the risks I take, not others.

I felt like Savoldelli was a great descender, but I think a bit overrated by commentators on TV. He had a few incredible descents, but was also inconsistent. There were some descents where he needed time and couldn't get it, and they seemed technical enough. I'll call that a strong opinion loosely held, because if you haven't ridden the descent yourself, it can be pretty hard to evaluate in any real way. Some stuff looks technical but is so well banked and flowy that many good riders rip down them, and it's hard to grab time. There were for sure times when Savoldelli impressed, but other times when I was like..."well...let's see it" and it didn't happen.

When I look at who I think is a good descender, I look at the lines folks are taking, conditions, speed, and who/how many they are overtaking. I look at it through the "Would/could I do that?" filter. That makes certain riders stand out.

For me Pidcock is the guy who just makes me stand up and take notice. The lines he takes, the gaps he closes, the angles he puts the bike into, the gaps he stuffs himself into...just amazing. He sees holes that don't even look like they exist and is into and out of them so quickly. And he does it on any terrain, any kind of descent. I don't think I've ever enjoyed watching a rider go downhill more than watching Tom. Brilliant.
Yeah it's often hard to judge, and sometimes lines can look good if you don't realise that corner could have been taken much faster if you had just putten your bike into that angle more aggressively.

I also think descending got a significant nerf with the supertuck being disallowed, cause the amount of time spent in the supertuck was a significant part of being a good descender, and I think this is actually where NIbali really excelled at.

Right now Pidcock is indeed the only one that just seems to violate conventional descending laws with the lines that he takes.
 
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Also think the 'we never see the best descenders because they're in the grupetto' talk is severely overstated. Even in races where the heavier guys can do something on camera on the descents (from the break in a transitional stage, Sanremo when it was a sprinter's race, and so on), it's usually the familiar names nuking the descents.
Agree with this.

It's also a subject where it's difficult to have any strong opinions. Mostly because we just have no real way of knowing, considering we never get any pictures of most of the riders. We don't even have enough samples to accurately rank the guys we do see on camera. There are only so many times during a season that several riders go all out on a descent at the same time. Comparing performances in different races is also a minefield, as it depends so heavily on so many other factors, like conditions (road/weather), how much risk they would take etc.

One time we did actually see a grupetto guy put his descending to good use in front of the cameras was Hushovd in the 2011 Tour. He hasn't been mentioned here yet, I think.

I also agree with the posters saying that Pidcock seems like he's in a class of his own among current riders.
 
Nibali won monuments, and grand tours, because his descending. He is the Goat.

The only other guy on the list who I would consider is sagan.

Piddock has a couple of viral videos. What did he do with descending to get big wins?
Vingegard, lol. Is he a famous descenter?
Froome? He only did one famous descent because quintana was daydreaming and let his wheel go
Virenque? Didn't see him descent
Savoldelli, inconsistent
Van der peol great champion, not known for his descending
Mohoric. Very good but his most famous descent has 2 near disaster crash moments due to lack of focus

Sagan was great and won Richmond thanks to his downhill cornering. Legendary moment.

Some other names. Bilbao is great, Sanchez was great, Alaphilippe had a couple of fantastic moments.


But the top is Nibali, and then Sagan
 
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Nibali won monuments, and grand tours, because his descending. He is the Goat.

The only other guy on the list who I would consider is sagan.

Piddock has a couple of viral videos. What did he do with descending to get big wins?
Vingegard, lol. Is he a famous descenter?
Froome? He only did one famous descent because quintana was daydreaming and let his wheel go
Virenque? Didn't see him descent
Savoldelli, inconsistent
Van der peol great champion, not known for his descending
Mohoric. Very good but his most famous descent has 2 near disaster crash moments due to lack of focus

Sagan was great and won Richmond thanks to his downhill cornering. Legendary moment.

Some other names. Bilbao is great, Sanchez was great, Alaphilippe had a couple of fantastic moments.


But the top is Nibali, and then Sagan
The best descenters don't necessarily be at the front after a climb and therefore don't win.
 
Pidcock. Simply incredible.

In the recent past I didn’t realise how good Cadel Evans was until he gapped Sammy Sanchez and Contador on the descent into Gap on stage 16 of 2011 TdF. Action starts at about 47:20.

2011 TdF stage 16

Special mentions to Vincenzo Nibali, Sagan and Paolo Salvodelli (Il Falco).
Nah, Savoldelli was a true downhill phenomenon. I'd like to see comparisons between him and Pidcock, the only one who might rival him. Nibali was also special downhill. I haven't seen enough of Mohoric to really get a deeper sense, although his descent from the Poggio speaks volumes.
 
The lines he takes, the gaps he closes, the angles he puts the bike into, the gaps he stuffs himself into...just amazing. He sees holes that don't even look like they exist and is into and out of them so quickly. And he does it on any terrain, any kind of descent. I don't think I've ever enjoyed watching a rider go downhill more than watching Tom. Brilliant.
And he has razor sharp reaction times - like a race car driver. To me his razor sharp reactions are what I find most impressive about Pidcock. Those reactions makes everything else easier.
 
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Nibali won monuments, and grand tours, because his descending. He is the Goat.

The only other guy on the list who I would consider is sagan.

Piddock has a couple of viral videos. What did he do with descending to get big wins?
Vingegard, lol. Is he a famous descenter?
Froome? He only did one famous descent because quintana was daydreaming and let his wheel go
Virenque? Didn't see him descent
Savoldelli, inconsistent
Van der peol great champion, not known for his descending
Mohoric. Very good but his most famous descent has 2 near disaster crash moments due to lack of focus

Sagan was great and won Richmond thanks to his downhill cornering. Legendary moment.

Some other names. Bilbao is great, Sanchez was great, Alaphilippe had a couple of fantastic moments.


But the top is Nibali, and then Sagan
I think Nibali gets bonus points (from a viewer’s perspective) for being a ballsy descender willing to take risks even at the most crucial moments of a race. And it cost him too: crashes in fast descents in Rio, Florence, and Lombardy cost him a good shot at winning gold, a WC, and another GdL.
 
Savoldelli and Mohoric are probably the two best downhill specialist I've watched (since late 90s).

Sagan on his prime was excellent as well. He was such a great bikehandler. I recall the stage to Gap, with the classic downhill to the finish, it was 2015 or 2016 - He dropped Jarlinson Pantano, who was a good descender on his own, like a stone. That prime Sagan was something else.
this stage was memorable for me. This video misses half of the descent (with Sagan passing a few other riders before Cunego) but I can't find a better version.
View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KgGcSXf4x04
 
Gijs Leemreize hard-dropping Van Der Poel, stage 17 of the 2022 Giro was exceptional, there was also a stage in 2016 (4 I think) where Marcel Kittel was in Pink, lost about 2 minutes on a climb and decided to full-send the descent and made it back. Carlos Rodriguez is also very good, he was gapping Ayuso in Basque who is pretty good himself, and there was the Tour stage he won. Vingegaard seems like the best of the top-GC guys, thought I suspect it might be the Froome thing where he's not technically that good but just has a screw loose, he always looks like he could fall off at any time.