Wout van Aert

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Van Aert has been strong in the mountains as a domestique for a long time. This is pretty much the new normal for strong tempo-guys. Just look at the guys pacing early in the mountains for all the strong GC teams. How is it surprising that a strong guy with a good sprint wins from a breakaway ? It doesnt exactly make him a mountain goat does it ? His rival Van der Poel is pretty much the same type. Both can do well in a one off mountain effort, but cannot go hard day after day like the GC guys.
 
I love WvA too but this is way out there. Don’t forget it was WvA pacing the leading group on that Grand Colombier stage last year when Bernal was dropped. Then this TdF he wins the Ventoux stage, smashes the TT and now beats a red hot Cavendish in Paris?

Now WvA’s young teammate gets called up suddenly to replace Roglic and finishes 2nd in Paris!

I think JV have some explaining to do and coming up with Armstrong style explanations doesn’t cut the mustard.
 
I love WvA too but this is way out there. Don’t forget it was WvA pacing the leading group on that Grand Colombier stage last year when Bernal was dropped. Then this TdF he wins the Ventoux stage, smashes the TT and now beats a red hot Cavendish in Paris?

Now WvA’s young teammate gets called up suddenly to replace Roglic and finishes 2nd in Paris!

I think JV have some explaining to do and coming up with Armstrong style explanations doesn’t cut the mustard.
Pre-this year's TDF, it would've been odd if WvA didn't beat Cavendish in a sprint (based on what Cavendish has done the last few years compared to WvA). WvA did lose a few minutes up Mount Ventoux, when Pogacar was sandbagging (imo). Had Pogacar wanted, he would've closed the gap.
 
The main problem is the time trialing and the sprinting together on that level. It would be a bit different if he did that once and there were very special circumstances, but he's generally up with the very best in both disciplines.
I know these comparisons always limp, but it's a bit like winning a 200m race and the next day an 800m race, both not on a local level, but in the world championships.
And then in addition he wins a very tough mountain stage within days too, yes, from the break, but easily outclimbing someone like Ellissonde.
That's only possible if you either believe in the mutant theory (there are some guys who are just naturally out of this world) or in a niche sport where someone only needs to use 70/80 percent of his talent in at least one discipline because there is no broad, professionally working field, scouted from many places all over the world. (Like actually still a bit in women's cycling).
There is a good reason why he's the only one to do it since ages, going back to a time where cycling was very different. (And I doubt that even van der Poel, with all his talent and all the suspiciousness of his own performances, could win on the Ventoux.)
Although of course we are in a new age of the allrounders, and I am thinking about why that is so, there are surely other reasons than only doping as well, but let's be clear, this is still extreme.
 
Forget #FreeLanda and #FreeKwiatkowski
#FreeWVA
Imagine what he could do on a team dedicated to him and strong like Quickstep. Heck go to AF with MVDP and make a lion pack. Take turns on who attacks and wins. He’s like a create your own character that you make in a cycling game that’s good at everything or when your personal all around character in the Tour de France games maxed out their skills.
 
The main problem is the time trialing and the sprinting together on that level. It would be a bit different if he did that once and there were very special circumstances, but he's generally up with the very best in both disciplines.
I know these comparisons always limp, but it's a bit like winning a 200m race and the next day an 800m race, both not on a local level, but in the world championships.
And then in addition he wins a very tough mountain stage within days too, yes, from the break, but easily outclimbing someone like Ellissonde.
That's only possible if you either believe in the mutant theory (there are some guys who are just naturally out of this world) or in a niche sport where someone only needs to use 70/80 percent of his talent in at least one discipline because there is no broad, professionally working field, scouted from many places all over the world. (Like actually still a bit in women's cycling).
There is a good reason why he's the only one to do it since ages, going back to a time where cycling was very different. (And I doubt that even van der Poel, with all his talent and all the suspiciousness of his own performances, could win on the Ventoux.)
Although of course we are in a new age of the allrounders, and I am thinking about why that is so, there are surely other reasons than only doping as well, but let's be clear, this is still extreme.
I think the main problem is sprinting at the elite level and being able to climb at any level capable of winning that Ventoux stage. Other than Merckx who is before my time I’ve never seen this. Riders who can sprint and TT are more believable IMO.
 
I think we're just seeing sports science now able to identify true all-round potential younger and younger and power meter use from a young age allows weaknesses in their power curve to be addressed while the body is still developing and so young riders are coming through with very smooth and competitive power curves with minimised weaknesses. Clearly Wout isn't quite climbing with the best all the time and he isn't quite sprinting with the best all the time, but he is competitive with both on his day. Traditionally, cycling would encourage you to pursue whatever your greatest natural talent was shown without specific training. I think true all-rounders like Wout, Remco, Pidcock, Vingegaard, Hayter etc will not be unusual, we're entering a new era where young riders just don't accept tradition anymore, don't accept even a hierarchy in the peloton anymore either.
 
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I understand the problem people have with WvA. But to his defense, he allways was a very good TT guy. The XC races are a sort of TT, it's always full gas for about an hour. So no real surprise there. WvA (and MVDP) have always been very fast in a sprint, that's another benefit of being an XC rider. That's because of the way the XC is, a really intense short race. Stating that it's ridiculous he wins a springt holding off Cavendish...the story should be how is it possible that Cavendish is winning all these sprints after years of finishing last, joins QS et voila. To be honoust, there was nog competition. No Jakobsen, Ewan, Viviani, Groenewegen, Merlier, VDP etc.

Now the mountain thing...ok I get it. But he did not drop any big names in the Ventoux stage (JA is more of a puncher, Mollema is not the rider he used to be). He was just pushing the watts he could and that was more than the others could. He is a wattage monster, so not surprised. Take into account he lost a lot of time in the final 3km of the Ventoux. The reason he won, and here's captain obvious, was him being in the first group. He would have never won that stage if he was there in the peleton, the INEOS-train would drop him. Just as they did in all the other mountain stages.

But after 33 years of watching cycling very closely, I would not be surprised if it's the other way around. But for now, benefit of the doubt because I can see his performances as pretty normal. He's just lucky to have a good TT and good sprint.
 
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Forget #FreeLanda and #FreeKwiatkowski
#FreeWVA
Imagine what he could do on a team dedicated to him and strong like Quickstep. Heck go to AF with MVDP and make a lion pack. Take turns on who attacks and wins. He’s like a create your own character that you make in a cycling game that’s good at everything or when your personal all around character in the Tour de France games maxed out their skills.
MVDP and WVA in one team, no that's something that would be crazy to see. Destroying everyone the year round. Put JA in that team too.
 
Sports science and all-arounder? C'mon now.

At this level, ain't no way one guy is just magically the best in a few disciplines. Yeah, sprinting and TTing, as others have commented. But the guy won on Ventoux the day after nearly winning a sprint.

I do not believe for a second one young guy is just the kind in a few areas because of sports science. Too many different skills required and surely someone is better in another discipline.
 
I understand the problem people have with WvA. But to his defense, he allways was a very good TT guy. The XC races are a sort of TT, it's always full gas for about an hour. So no real surprise there. WvA (and MVDP) have always been very fast in a sprint, that's another benefit of being an XC rider. That's because of the way the XC is, a really intense short race. Stating that it's ridiculous he wins a springt holding off Cavendish...the story should be how is it possible that Cavendish is winning all these sprints after years of finishing last, joins QS et voila. To be honoust, there was nog competition. No Jakobsen, Ewan, Viviani, Groenewegen, Merlier, VDP etc.

Now the mountain thing...ok I get it. But he did not drop any big names in the Ventoux stage (JA is more of a puncher, Mollema is not the rider he used to be). He was just pushing the watts he could and that was more than the others could. He is a wattage monster, so not surprised. Take into account he lost a lot of time in the final 3km of the Ventoux. The reason he won, and here's captain obvious, was him being in the first group. He would have never won that stage if he was there in the peleton, the INEOS-train would drop him. Just as they did in all the other mountain stages.

But after 33 years of watching cycling very closely, I would not be surprised if it's the other way around. But for now, benefit of the doubt because I can see his performances as pretty normal. He's just lucky to have a good TT and good sprint.
You make some good points here. I would add a bit more nuanced - while heart rate wise CX is like a TT, power effort wise some CX courses are more TT like, and some CX courses are more like stop go sprints.

WvA's TT and his type of sprint (better at one long high power/high speed sprint) more or less suits his profile. I can also believe he can climb and maintain some TT abilities. But being able to win above category mountains (or climb with the best), win time trials, and win sprints, all within a week or so, is silly. Just like I think vdP ability to crank out his insane short accelerations and sprints as well as time trial/solo breakaway is silly.
 
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Sports science and all-arounder? C'mon now.

At this level, ain't no way one guy is just magically the best in a few disciplines. Yeah, sprinting and TTing, as others have commented. But the guy won on Ventoux the day after nearly winning a sprint.

I do not believe for a second one young guy is just the kind in a few areas because of sports science. Too many different skills required and surely someone is better in another discipline.
That's the thing about being an all-rounder isn't it? You tend to be extremely good across everything, a more or less flat power profile. But then, you don't tend to be the best at everything, at most you tend to be the best that perhaps one thing, sometimes 2 in certain circumstances (eg time trials and sustained less steep climbs). So there are a few racers who is the proverbial eyebrow when they're able to do everything at the very top. Va and vdP looking OTP (TP a week).
 
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That's the thing about being an all-rounder isn't it? You tend to be extremely good across everything, a more or less flat power profile. But then, you don't tend to be the best at everything, at most you tend to be the best that perhaps one thing, sometimes 2 in certain circumstances (eg time trials and sustained less steep climbs). So there are a few racers who is the proverbial eyebrow when they're able to do everything at the very top. Va and vdP looking OTP (TP a week).
To me Van Aert's climbing is not that eyebrow raising, we've seen him sometimes distanced by Van der Poel and Alaphilippe on shorter climbs and he can't stay with Pogacar, Vingegaard, or Carapaz all the way up on big climbs or he would have tried it once to assist Jonas. I think he rode smart on Ventoux, when the GC crowd began racing they took 3 minutes back from him in the last 5K to the top and another half minute on the decent and they were only racing each other not particularly trying to catch Wout. Van Aert can ride really fast by himself for a long time, but he's vulnerable to attacks on climbs. I don't think this proves he's clean, but I also don't think his 3 stage wins are proof that he is on some super secret new doping rocket fuel.
 
Sports science and all-arounder? C'mon now.

At this level, ain't no way one guy is just magically the best in a few disciplines. Yeah, sprinting and TTing, as others have commented. But the guy won on Ventoux the day after nearly winning a sprint.

I do not believe for a second one young guy is just the kind in a few areas because of sports science. Too many different skills required and surely someone is better in another discipline.
Everything I've ever read regarding muscle composition and cardiovascular capacity indicates that sprinting and endurance are mutually exclusive, at least in running. But that may not apply completely to sports like cycling and xc skiing, where you have mechanical assistance, opportunities to recover and, at least in cycling, in-race dynamics like breakaways that skew results.

WvA is an insanely good rider, but he gets dropped in head to head climbing. He is a sprinter on Sagan level, not prime Cipo. But he's definitely top tier in TT, but it's a disciple that's heavily influenced by equipment, body positioning and practice. Almost any rider can make huge gains in TT if they have the desire and resources.
 
Outclimbing the shadow of the old Nairo and winning final sprint against half dead sprinters.
That's pretty much where I am with WVA. If he starts climbing on steep ascents (rather than 8-10% where you can easily stay in the saddle) then I'll like it less. He is likely commanding a top salary on a team with likely one of the largest budgets and in some ways is an enhanced hybrid rider in the style of EBH and Sagan (or dare I say Garmin/Sky era Wiggins).

The ITT bothers me the most really, although it seems clear Pogacar wasnt going all out. But I do think the physiological differences between being able to sprint, ITT and climb at less than 10% are very small compared to their equivalents in running.
 
The Belgian Bugno, he seems to get better at everything without any drawbacks. I can see a good TTer like him loosing weight and improving his climbing, but being competitive in bunch sprints and winning them at the same time is a big of a red flag for me.
 
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The Belgian Bugno, he seems to get better at everything without any drawbacks. I can see a good TTer like him loosing weight and improving his climbing, but being competitive in bunch sprints and winning them at the same time is a big of a red flag for me.
Yup. Generally speaking, within some context, I can see improving an areas that use similar systems. So if you're a good time trialist and you can lose weight, you might get quite good at the long steady climbs. You also might improve your accelerations, but that does not mean you're bumping shoulder is worth the world class sprinters (think of it more as improving a weakness).

The thing is, it's not just in the Tour de France is it? WvA won Milan San Remo last year, and he's been doing some pretty incredible sprinting this year. And some pretty incredible climbing this year. And of course some pretty incredible time trialing. So when people say "yeah but the field and this year's race was ...", it misses the point that it's not just this race.

Anywho, I like watching the guy race, just like I like watching MvdP. But they both have demonstrated ridiculous performances, albeit differently.
 
I think a big part of why there are less critical questions about WVA's performance than Pogacar's for example, besides nationality, has to do with what types of rider they both are. It seems that more people get upset at GC riders doping than there are that get mad at classic riders doping. But with his climbing abilities seemingly raising unlimitedly, it wouldn't surprise me if the criticism raises as well. Definitely if he somehow manages to be succesful to whatever extent at going for GC in GT's in the future.
 

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