Wout van Aert

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Yes, they were strong squads but we were still treated to the sight of people like EBH, Thomas, Poels pulling up the mountains
I don't think that EBH was there on the last mountain on every mountain stage.
Thomas is a Tour de France winner, though I would need to go back and check on his early domestique Sky days. He seems to have a record of progression into a top GC rider (methods of that is for another thread).
Poels is an accomplished Superdom though he had his bad days.

I do love WVA as a rider but what he's done in this Tour is well...it's like he's a combination of all 3 of those riders you mentioned.
 
Weight is not the issue here. He could be 80, 75, 70, that is not the point. The point is, if you're so good in the mountains, and he is (you can't drop Valverde, Uran and Yates if you're not, or drive the peloton for 10km on Col de la Loze), you can't be so powerful on the flat, so explosive on the hills, and so fast in the sprint. You just can't do all these things at the same time, no matter how much you weight. I never saw it in my life.
Which scientific evidence is there for that?

Riders since the 80s have started to focus on what they were best at. A sprinter would never try to be good at climbing, for a climber it would be futile to start sprinting. So for the past decades, nobody did it because it didn't help their chances of winning. Van Aert never made that shift because he only started riding on the road two years ago. Before the age of specialization, everybody did everything, sprint, climb, TT.
 
Weight is not the issue here. He could be 80, 75, 70, that is not the point. The point is, if you're so good in the mountains, and he is (you can't drop Valverde, Uran and Yates if you're not, or drive the peloton for 10km on Col de la Loze), you can't be so powerful on the flat, so explosive on the hills, and so fast in the sprint. You just can't do all these things at the same time, no matter how much you weight. I never saw it in my life.
It has happened many times in the past. Riders winning sprints and mountain stages and TTs.
And Van Aert is not the best in anything: not the best sprinter, not the best puncheur, not the best TTer, (certainly) not the best climber.
 
When was the last time it happened?
The man who won the stage two days ago. He can ride half way up the final mountain (in fact was 11th on GC aged 23), was a second off winning a Tour TT and has won lots of one day races, including outsprinting the likes of Sagan and Matthews to do so. And before Kwiatkowski, there was Cancellara who could sprint when he needed to.
 
When was the last time it happened?
If Van Aert further develops all the potential he is showing, maybe one in 5-10 years time should compare him to Jalabert?
From memory; Won Flèche Wallonne, San Remo, etc. Was competitive in bunch sprints and won 2 Green jerseys. Was world champion in time trial. Won the Vuelta, top 5 in the Tour & 2 Polka dots. That is some Palmarès:)

Obviously the point is not that Van Aert is the one evil guy who is doping and cheating a clean peloton. Nothing suggest that this should be the case. Agree with macbindle , if Van Aert is doping lots of riders will be doping.
 
Yep, Jalabert would be correct answer. And Sean Kelly before him.
Boasson Hagen is much lighter version of Van Aert. He didn't won Monuments and he wasn't dropping freaking Valverde on a mountain.
Kwiatkowski never sprinted, TT-ed and rode on the cobbles like Van Aert can. He was better uphill though, at least till this Tour...
 
the major difference between jalabert and WvA is that jalabert never did those things at the same time, yes he was good sprinter/classics guy but he also had bunch of DNFs, then he suddenly was good GT guy and towards the end of his career won polka dot jersey... also mid 90s speaks for itself

its gonna be interesting to see further development and his battle with evenpoel in coming years
 
the major difference between jalabert and WvA is that jalabert never did those things at the same time,

1995 achievements for Jalabert: Green jersey and competitive in bunch sprints sprints. Won the Vuelta & top 5 in Le Tour. Won San Remo and Fleche Wallone.

The major difference is that Van Aert gotta up his GT game. This tour was promising:)
 
I wonder how much of a part his willlingness to go all-out as a dom plays a part in his climbing prowess.

Could a Gilbert 2011 have done similar things, what about a top form Cancellara or Sagan? They never had the drive/opportunity/lack of ego to push themselves so completely as a domestique. Perhaps the Gap between what they could do on a good day and what WvA showed us is not that grand.

It reminds me of how unexpectedly strong riders can turn out to be if they end up at the front due to a breakaway (Hayman) or end up in yellow (Voeckler, Alaphilippe).
Or when a top rider falls behind due to a crash and suddenly can show how strong he really is. Which he otherwise often can't because it is hard to get away from an elite group. Yeah I think that MvdP at RVV last year was overrated because of this.

Recently we have also seen Valverde and Nibali surprise us in Ronde van Vlaanderen. So perhaps we don't always have the clearest view on what the absolute top riders could do in races that don't suit them because they don't usually try their hardest there.
 
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Weight is not the issue here. He could be 80, 75, 70, that is not the point. The point is, if you're so good in the mountains, and he is (you can't drop Valverde, Uran and Yates if you're not, or drive the peloton for 10km on Col de la Loze), you can't be so powerful on the flat, so explosive on the hills, and so fast in the sprint. You just can't do all these things at the same time, no matter how much you weight. I never saw it in my life.
First: weight is a key issue. He could be 80, well, if he was 80, we wouldn't talk about him, because you wouldn't even have seen him on the Poggio close to Alaphilippe. He would have been dropped like a stone (or like a Bennett). I cannot overstress this enough: weight is a key factor.

Next, as Logic-is-your-friend said: he is a very good sprinter, but the main factor was his excellent positioning. And his excellent positioning is mainly driven by his excellent power values on the kilometer: It truly helps if he can push 6-700 watts in the kilometer before the the sprint and still sprint around 1300-1400 watts. Top sprinters will probably do 100-200 watts more, but WvA can push out his maximum after positioning himself. Most top sprinters lack their maximum power if they have had to do their positioning themselves. I believe he could have won more stages, but we actually saw 3 sprints, where in one of them he didn't have all of the competition, in another one he got lucky with positioning and timing (gaps have to open at the right time), and in Poitiers he tried hard with positioning and that cost him on timing and thus his sprint was not good enough to win. So we may have seen 2 times he was lucky, one he was close but not good enough, and who knows, he could as well have messed up 2-3 times more if he mixed in those sprints. We'll see today.

Col de la Loze is 22K.
First 15K, when WvA pulled, was 6.8% and everybody was still holding their breath.
WvA left the front with around 7K to go. At that time, WvA was done.
In the hardest 7K averaging 9%, he lost 6 minutes.

People here fail to understand the difference between doing your job and having to let go the moment the race really starts is much, much easier for several reasons:
  1. You are literally (like WvA on Col de Loze) doing 2/3rds of the workout the GC guys are doing;
  2. You are pulling, so you set the pace. Other riders won't suddenly take over when you go a bit slower for 50 meters, as long as the average pace is high enough. It is so much easier to set a given pace, than to answer attacks, or accelerate (when you know you should still be able to counter attacks).
  3. You can let go the moment you feel like you gave it all. That's much much easier mentally than being a GC guy who can never let go until the finish, or even feels bad, giving it a 100%, because he gets dropped. WvA never felt bad when he got dropped. Mentally he had a free ride.
In my view, WvA is extremely well-rounded. He has an excellent sprint (but not the very best), an excellent time trial (not the very best either), has massive FTP and thus when he is in-form and not too heavy, he can last long pulling a Jumbo train of rider. Last but not least, he really has tactical nous. Much more than many 'experienced' riders.

post script: about Sagan: people remember he won the Tour of California in 2015, winning a (short) ITT, winning sprints and finishing withing 45 seconds on the HC climb of Mt. Baldy? It proves that some guys (like Sagan, WvA) have more climbing pedigree than many think is possible, as long as they push themselves over the limit. Ofcourse they can't do that for a whole tour, but they can sometimes push themselves.
 
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Let's not play dumb here. I know of course that the weight is the main issue in someone's climbing ability. But at the same time, when you loose weight you also loose some power and speed, which is not the case here. On the contrary...
 
People here fail to understand the difference between doing your job and having to let go the moment the race really starts is much, much easier for several reasons:
  1. You are literally (like WvA on Col de Loze) doing 2/3rds of the workout the GC guys are doing;
  2. You are pulling, so you set the pace. Other riders won't suddenly take over when you go a bit slower for 50 meters, as long as the average pace is high enough. It is so much easier to set a given pace, than to answer attacks, or accelerate (when you know you should still be able to counter attacks).
  3. You can let go the moment you feel like you gave it all. That's much much easier mentally than being a GC guy who can never let go until the finish, or even feels bad, giving it a 100%, because he gets dropped. WvA never felt bad when he got dropped. Mentally he had a free ride.
Completely agree with all this; it's something that some people just don't seem to grasp. And it's the whole reason why the concept of a domestique works in cycling. They put in a steady above threshold effort for x amount of minutes and then they crack. It's not comparable to the guys riding GC who have to pace themselves all day every day. Or even comparable with the likes of Hirschi, Carapaz or Martinez pacing their efforts to win from a break.
 
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Third time on Planche yesterday.

It's a 16-17 minute effort (not a 'true' +30 minute 1st or HC climbers effort), and he clearly saved himself on the flat in order to be fresher for the climb. Just look at his intermediate times (I remember he already conceded 40 seconds at one of the intermetiate time checks compared to Cavagna, who did the climb on his TT bike).

WvA was more than a minute slower than Pogacar and more than 30 seconds slower than Porte. So was it that extraordinary?
That was after Pogacar already crushed WvA's 'slow' flat approach by 40 seconds (now that was extraordinary).
 
42 seconds slower than Pogacar and 20 seconds slower than Porte on the climb.

And yes, it's still is extraordinary for a rider who can take very top positions in most bunch sprints.
He was clearly pacing himself on the flat part, unlike Dumoulin, Pogacar, Cavagna etc, who were up to 50s faster before the climb, so he was clearly saving himself for the climb. So he started the climb fresher than the others.
 

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