Wout van Aert

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I didn't make him into a top sprinter. But going by results, he is doing better than Gaviria or Groenewegen for reasons different than pure sprinter pedigree... Because in the end, that's what people see, and that's where the suspicion originates from, because if he didn't have results, there would simply be no suspicion: suspicion originates through envy. Most people only seem to look at results and they don't seem to see the efforts by e.g. WvA made in the race, and then they state that he comes out of nowhere...

I have been watching WvA very, very closely from his CX when he was an espoir, so I at least know what I say when I say he always had talent, pedigree etc, compared to some that claim he suddenly came out of nowhere last summer.
i don’t really have a dog in this fight because I’m not that interested in cross (the strongest wins too predictably) so I don’t have the long experience of watching WVA or MVDP that others have and am mostly interested in their more recent road careers. But I think it’s important not to accept over the top framing when trying to assess whether something is or isn’t possible.

WVA has some great, really great, results in sprints. But he hasn’t got most of them by sprinting like a sprint specialist. He isn’t showing the kind of acceleration over a simple 150 metre drag race that the Ewans or Bennetts or Groenewegens of the world do and if that was how he was winning it would be truly unprecedented - even Sean Kelly, the archetypal sprinting all rounder, couldn’t do that. He’s getting his wins the way very fast sprinters who aren’t in the very top few for speed get them, through daring moves, good decision making, going long, sustained power etc. You still have to be fast enough to be a specialist professional sprinter to do that, of course.

whether that’s a credible progression for him as a sprinter, I’ll leave to those of you who are more familiar with his earlier work. I will say that I’ve been generally surprised by the sprinting level of the current group of crossover cross guys, WVA, MVDP, but also Merlier. I just hadnt though that bunch sprint ability was something so many crossers would have as it just doesn’t seem that relevant.
 
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I think more CX guys are succesful on the road nowadays, simply because there is a deeper pool of talent starting CX, at least in Belgium.
I know guys that are excellent in road racing but they still only do it as summer training for the CX season.

And I agree with everything you said about WvA not being a pure sprinter. He doesn't have that cracking acceleration that Ewan, Gaviria and even Sagan has.
 
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whether that’s a credible progression for him as a sprinter, I’ll leave to those of you who are more familiar with his earlier work. I will say that I’ve been generally surprised by the sprinting level of the current group of crossover cross guys, WVA, MVDP, but also Merlier. I just hadnt though that bunch sprint ability was something so many crossers would have as it just doesn’t seem that relevant.
I don't think crossers turning into good sprinters is that surprising. A cross race is one hour of sprinting out of corners and up sharp rises, and training for cross is a lot more of the same. Throw in the premium that cross places on bike handling and you have a sprinter.
 
You think, oh than it's alright :rolleyes:. But I would still like to see that speed of his, which was always there. I'm trying to find it, but till now I only found that Stybar beat him at E3, Alaphilippe, Naesen, Kwiat and Mohoric did it at San Remo, 11 guys out of 15 did it at Ronde and 9 out of 19 did it at GW, and so on.
To be fair, I found one sprint he won in 2017, he beat Van der Poel at Elfstedenronde. Fair enough, Mathieu is fast, but that was just too little for this kind of transformation we have now! And I'm not even mentioning TT's and mountains!
FFS, if you're trying to make an argument, at least make sure you do your research right. Luckily Volderke saved me some time.

There are plenty of CX guys with a very decent sprint: Merlier, Mathieu VDP, Gianni Vermeersch even. As mentioned above, cross is all about short bursts of speed, so it shouldn't come as a surprise that some of the crossers are quite good at sprinting.
 
I agree. Nor surprising he beat Martin et al over a 7k TT either. Full gas, straight off the gun is CX/XC MTB in a nutshell. However, what is surprising, is that he rode is on the front for three weeks, day after day, nearly always pulling on the last climb, then contested the sprint the next day, anddddd was up there in the TT. In his first GT.

I think the CX argument is that he's entirely capable of becoming a sprinter with that make up, but then to pull on the HC climbs and smash out an amazing uphill TT after three weeks? And he's never ridden a three week race before? That's not pushing believability, no?

Cancellara is the closest example I can think of to compare to WvA and that sorta feat took a few years to develop and presumably some tutelage from Riis. (If he didn't learn it at Mapei... :D )

I don't think crossers turning into good sprinters is that surprising. A cross race is one hour of sprinting out of corners and up sharp rises, and training for cross is a lot more of the same. Throw in the premium that cross places on bike handling and you have a sprinter.
 
So you agree Van Aert is at least 10 kg heavier than most guys on that list. It isn't proof of anything, but it is an interesting observation. I wonder what would have happened if Van Aert hadn't been in a support role. I reckon he could have been among the top-10 climbers in the race.
I agree he's likely 10kg heavier than most small climbers. But again, Dumoulin was 71, and Hesjedal was 72kg when they won the Giro. Won. Van Aert lost 80 minutes on the mountain stages. People may think he was there "all the time" on the climbs but he didn't lose time in any of the "flat-ish" stages where he had to chaperone Roglic, so all the time he lost was on the climbs. That's also energy you don't have to spend compared to the guys in GC. There is no way of knowing how he would have fared had he been trying to hang on all the way instead of babysitting Roglic and setting the pace.
 
Bottom line for me given WvA's previous performances is I am not 'surprised' by his crazy TTs or his ridiculous climbing (not saying this is all on the up and up). I actually find his sprinting nuts. The guy's drag race numbers are through the roof. I realize some might disagree with me on this but, whatever!

Compared to your MvdP's, the argument was always that WvA was better at sustained power (TT anyone?), like you would need to deal with a really hard cx course on a really epic muddy day - just hard power all day. He also used to weigh less (then he gained some, then he lost some), so his climbing was pretty good before the past two years. Obviously these are not mountains ;) But MvdP would always nuke him in accelerations.
 
FFS, if you're trying to make an argument, at least make sure you do your research right. Luckily Volderke saved me some time.

There are plenty of CX guys with a very decent sprint: Merlier, Mathieu VDP, Gianni Vermeersch even. As mentioned above, cross is all about short bursts of speed, so it shouldn't come as a surprise that some of the crossers are quite good at sprinting.
FFS if it's only sprinting I wouldn't make noise at all! But it's not, it's everything! And how interesting, he find his ever present speed only after more than half-a-year in Jumbo.
 
I agree he's likely 10kg heavier than most small climbers. But again, Dumoulin was 71, and Hesjedal was 72kg when they won the Giro. Won.
You're missing a point here. He lost weight alright, he trained hard in the Alps alright, he became much better climber, that's also alright. What is not alright though is that he didn't lose ability anywhere. He made massive anaerobic progress, and he should've lost aerobic power, but he didn't. He's faster and more explosive than ever. That's the issue here...
 
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FFS if it's only sprinting I wouldn't make noise at all! But it's not, it's everything! And how interesting, he find his ever present speed only after more than half-a-year in Jumbo.
The above argument was specifically about sprinting and his ability seemingly coming out of nowhere. Which is clearly incorrect, and your examples were chosen poorly.
 
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The guy's drag race numbers are through the roof.
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But MvdP would always nuke him in accelerations.
And i'm pretty sure that hasn't changed. Though van Aert did beat Mathieu on several occasions in the past in the sprint. And i actually do think he lost some speed compared to last year. Look at the sprint with Alaphilippe (not in prime form) in San Remo. By the way you're describing it, he should have smoked him by a bikelength. He barely won at all. Barely won vs Bol, who hesitated before accelerating.

I do think he is in better form than he was last year, but i don't think his accelerations actually improved. When his form starts to drop, i think that will also become more clear.

You're missing a point here. He lost weight alright, he trained hard in the Alps alright, he became much better climber, that's also alright. What is not alright though is that he didn't lose ability anywhere. He made massive anaerobic progress, and he should've lost aerobic power, but he didn't. He's faster and more explosive than ever. That's the issue here...
No, wasn't missing the point, i was responding to someone who was talking about weight/climbing.
 
You're missing a point here. He lost weight alright, he trained hard in the Alps alright, he became much better climber, that's also alright. What is not alright though is that he didn't lose ability anywhere. He made massive anaerobic progress, and he should've lost aerobic power, but he didn't. He's faster and more explosive than ever. That's the issue here...
Ah, the good old Wiggins transformation. When he decided to become a climber, his TT also got better as did his sprint (remember that TdS stage?). You just have to do it right ;)
 
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I always use 2012 Thomas as an example of a credible transformation. The guy focused on the track because it was an Olympic year, and he put on weight. His climbing ability plummeted, while he put out some of the best ITTs of his career. It wasn't until he suddenly became a top level mountain domestique and GC contender pushing 30 that he could improve one without the other suffering.
 
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I always use 2012 Thomas as an example of a credible transformation. The guy focused on the track because it was an Olympic year, and he put on weight. His climbing ability plummeted, while he put out some of the best ITTs of his career. It wasn't until he suddenly became a top level mountain domestique and GC contender pushing 30 that he could improve one without the other suffering.
Also Kennaugh had this huge dip in performance in 2012. I agree, you have to give them that.
 
I feel bad for all WvA's non-doped competitors today (except for Ganna who is obviously just a very big clean talent)
Kung (+3 seconds), Thomas (+10 seconds), Dennis (+23 seconds)... all clean riders that would have bested WvA's time if WvA didn't take magic pills that those riders obviously declined to take.
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I feel bad for all WvA's non-doped competitors today (except for Ganna who is obviously just a very big clean talent)
Kung (+3 seconds), Thomas (+10 seconds), Dennis (+23 seconds)... all clean riders that would have bested WvA's time if WvA didn't take magic pills that those riders obviously declined to take.
[/sarcastic modus]
A couple of guys you mentioned specifically prepared for today and yet still lost to a sprinter/climber/classicomano/roleur/crosser so your sarcasm is a bit misplaced.
 

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