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"The current level is lower than it was in my time"

rick_chaseyrick_chasey Posts: 54,995 Lives Here
edited September 2017 in Pro race
'00s edition with Oscar Freire


http://m.sporza.be/#!/snippet/59cdd5c0c447b0037a2e2551
Maar de huidige generatie is volgens Freire niet vergelijkbaar met de zijne. "Sagan start tegenwoordig in elke eendagskoers als topfavoriet", zegt de Spanjaard aan Sporza.

"Sagan sprint goed en klimt het best van alle sprinters. Als het parcours niet te veel bergop is, is hij de beste van alle renners. Maar hij heeft niet veel rivalen in WK’s en andere wedstrijden en dat was 6 à 8 jaar geleden ondenkbaar"

Freire trekt één conclusie uit het gebrek aan concurrentie voor Sagan: "Het niveau van het wielerpeloton is volgens mij gezakt", zegt de Spanjaard. "Er zijn niet veel toprenners meer."

"Sagan is zo vaak superieur tegenover de rest, wat betekent dat het niveau van het internationale wielerpeloton niet heel hoog is. Valverde wint het grootste deel van de wedstrijden waarin hij start. Contador heeft jaren de toon aangegeven in de grote rondes."

"En dat wil zeggen dat er wel een paar goede renners zijn, maar veel winnaars rijden er niet rond in het huidige peloton."

The level of this current generation is not comparable to his era. "Nowadays Sagan starts every one day race as the top favourite"

"Sagan sprints well and climbs the best of all the sprinters. If the course doesn't have too much climbing, he's the best of all the riders. But he doesn't have many rivals in the Worlds and other races and that was unthinkable 8-10 years ago."

Friere comes to the conclusion "the quality of the peloton has dropped. There are fewer top riders nowadays."

"Sagan is so often superior to the rest that the level of the peloton isn't that high. Valverde wins a good proportion of the races he starts. Contador has been shaping the grand tours for years."

"That says there are a pair of good riders, but there aren't many real winners riding around the peloton"


(I know he likely didn't do the interview in Dutch but I didn't find the interview elsewhere).
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  • Oh, I thought this was going to be about the benefits of energy efficiency targets.
  • Is it just the case of course design at the world's. Nothing too steep or it's just the climbers, nothing too flat or it's 200k of waiting around for the sprint.
  • andypandyp Posts: 8,511
    Doesn't every ex-pro ever think it was tougher in his day?
  • Must have been easier if the were all pilled up.
  • gsk82gsk82 Posts: 2,921
    Sagan is so much better than everyone else that he hasn't won as much as van avermaet or maybe even kwiatkowski this year.
    "Unfortunately these days a lot of people don’t understand the real quality of a bike" Ernesto Colnago
  • Alex99Alex99 Posts: 1,407
    Seems like an odd conclusion. I suppose the standard of the peleton in Merckx's time was very low.
  • RichN95.RichN95. Posts: 24,934
    edited September 2017

    "Sagan is so often superior to the rest that the level of the peloton isn't that high. Valverde wins a good proportion of the races he starts. Contador has been shaping the grand tours for years."

    "That says there are a pair of good riders, but there aren't many real winners riding around the peloton"
    Sagan is so dominant he's only one monument away from equalling Simon Gerrans's record of two, Valverde rarely wins after April (or outside Spain and the Ardennes) and Contador hasn't been on the podium of the biggest Grand Tour for seven or eight years.

    When sportsmen retire they should have to go on an awareness course as to why things probably weren't better in his day.

    I still like Oscar though.
    Alex99 wrote:
    Seems like an odd conclusion. I suppose the standard of the peloton in Merckx's time was very low.
    Compared to today it probably was. No Colombians, no Americans, no Australians, barely any Brits, no Eastern Europeans, no Africans and meagre wages for most. Currently in the UCI rankings top 20 there are riders from Slovakia, Kenya/UK, Norway, Australia, Poland, Ireland, Colombia, Russia and Slovenia. In Merckx's final Tour win there were only six riders from outside the 'big 5' countries.
    Twitter: @RichN95
  • gsk82 wrote:
    Sagan is so much better than everyone else that he hasn't won as much as van avermaet or maybe even kwiatkowski this year.
    :mrgreen:
  • This is the usual nonsense trotted by all old pros of any sport, usually in order to make them still feel relevant. The worst ever after-dinner speaker I saw was Fred Trueman who insisted that no-one was faster or better than him and there wasn't a batsman in the world as good as the ones he had to bowl to. He just came across as a tedious Yorkshire [email protected], a bit like dear old Oscar comes across as a sad old pro in that pile of nonsense.
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  • RichN95.RichN95. Posts: 24,934
    This is the usual nonsense trotted by all old pros of any sport, usually in order to make them still feel relevant. The worst ever after-dinner speaker I saw was Fred Trueman who insisted that no-one was faster or better than him and there wasn't a batsman in the world as good as the ones he had to bowl to. He just came across as a tedious Yorkshire [email protected], a bit like dear old Oscar comes across as a sad old pro in that pile of nonsense.
    There's a story of Don Bradman being asked what he would average against the rather poor England bowling attack at the time (in the 90s). He replied '60 or 70'. The interviewer said 'Really, but you averaged nearly 100 in your career'. And he then quipped, 'Yes, but you must remember I am 85 years old'
    Twitter: @RichN95
  • rick_chaseyrick_chasey Posts: 54,995 Lives Here
    edited September 2017
    andyp wrote:
    Doesn't every ex-pro ever think it was tougher in his day?

    That's why I thought it deserved a new thread; so we can keep it all in one place.

    I'm sympathetic to Freire since his generation was the first one I saw from neo-pro through to retirement, so I will always have a soft spot for it (rather like Iainf72 does for the late '80s guys).

    Also, presumably, it IS easier for Sagan than it is for everyone else, because he really is a lot better than everyone else.

    I mean, he's winning Tour stages after pulling his foot out, leading out too early and freewheeling for a bit, etc etc.

    It does seem very easy for him in comparison to other top riders.
  • rick_chaseyrick_chasey Posts: 54,995 Lives Here
    Alex99 wrote:
    Seems like an odd conclusion. I suppose the standard of the peloton in Merckx's time was very low.

    You can definitely argue that Merkcx dominance was a symptom of lack of competitiveness. Plenty of people here have argued that he'd be a lot less successful if he was racing nowadays.
  • It does seem very easy for him in comparison to other top riders.
    Apart from the times he doesn't win.
  • rick_chaseyrick_chasey Posts: 54,995 Lives Here
    It does seem very easy for him in comparison to other top riders.
    Apart from the times he doesn't win.

    Oh come on. His placings in the top 5 are ludicrously consistent. For all but the most extreme flat or hilly stages, he's basically a shoe-in for a top 5, and starts as the favourite.

    You get experienced pundits asking 'what proportion has Sagan actually ridden in his normal team jersey' because he has so often either been in a national, world or leaders' jersey.

    He's only 27 remember. 3 Worlds, 5 green jerseys at 27...

    Each of those has been won back-to-back. Think we all agree he'd likely have won the green jersey had he not been DQ'd too.
  • andypandyp Posts: 8,511
    Alex99 wrote:
    Seems like an odd conclusion. I suppose the standard of the peloton in Merckx's time was very low.

    You can definitely argue that Merkcx dominance was a symptom of lack of competitiveness. Plenty of people here have argued that he'd be a lot less successful if he was racing nowadays.

    Not sure I agree with that. You can't compare eras really, but if you look at the number of riders with multiple monument wins from the Merckx era, there was clearly a golden generation, with De Vlaeminck, Gimondi and Godefroot. Between those four they have thirty eight monument wins.
  • rick_chaseyrick_chasey Posts: 54,995 Lives Here
    andyp wrote:
    Alex99 wrote:
    Seems like an odd conclusion. I suppose the standard of the peloton in Merckx's time was very low.

    You can definitely argue that Merkcx dominance was a symptom of lack of competitiveness. Plenty of people here have argued that he'd be a lot less successful if he was racing nowadays.

    Not sure I agree with that. You can't compare eras really, but if you look at the number of riders with multiple monument wins from the Merckx era, there was clearly a golden generation, with De Vlaeminck, Gimondi and Godefroot. Between those four they have thirty eight monument wins.

    *shrugs* I wasn't making it.

    Remember reading somewhere here that his physical make up would mean he'd not get near winning a GT nowadays.
  • Oh come on. His placings in the top 5 are ludicrously consistent. For all but the most extreme flat or hilly stages, he's basically a shoe-in for a top 5, and starts as the favourite.

    You get experienced pundits asking 'what proportion has Sagan actually ridden in his normal team jersey' because he has so often either been in a national, world or leaders' jersey.

    He's only 27 remember. 3 Worlds, 5 green jerseys at 27...

    Each of those has been won back-to-back. Think we all agree he'd likely have won the green jersey had he not been DQ'd too.
    I don't doubt that he's arguably the best all round rider of his generation. But to hear some talk he's this unbeatable machine and nobody else has a chance.
  • rick_chaseyrick_chasey Posts: 54,995 Lives Here
    Oh come on. His placings in the top 5 are ludicrously consistent. For all but the most extreme flat or hilly stages, he's basically a shoe-in for a top 5, and starts as the favourite.

    You get experienced pundits asking 'what proportion has Sagan actually ridden in his normal team jersey' because he has so often either been in a national, world or leaders' jersey.

    He's only 27 remember. 3 Worlds, 5 green jerseys at 27...

    Each of those has been won back-to-back. Think we all agree he'd likely have won the green jersey had he not been DQ'd too.
    I don't doubt that he's arguably the best all round rider of his generation. But to hear some talk he's this unbeatable machine and nobody else has a chance.

    Has been the case in the Worlds and the Tour.

    Cycling's a sport where you spend most of your time losing. Saying "he's not that successful, he loses some races" really misses the point. We don't count the races rider lose, only the ones they win. It's not football.
  • RichN95.RichN95. Posts: 24,934
    andyp wrote:
    Alex99 wrote:
    Seems like an odd conclusion. I suppose the standard of the peloton in Merckx's time was very low.

    You can definitely argue that Merkcx dominance was a symptom of lack of competitiveness. Plenty of people here have argued that he'd be a lot less successful if he was racing nowadays.

    Not sure I agree with that. You can't compare eras really, but if you look at the number of riders with multiple monument wins from the Merckx era, there was clearly a golden generation, with De Vlaeminck, Gimondi and Godefroot. Between those four they have thirty eight monument wins.
    But is that because a distinct lack of talent outside that handful? In the monuments that those riders won, I would guess that over two thirds of the riders in the top tens came from Belgium or Italy.

    You can draw a comparison with the recent 'golden age' of men's tennis. Federer, Nadal and Djokovic all have over ten grand slam wins. They are all definitely great players. But it also has to be pointed out that there isn't currently a single big name player under the age of 30.
    Twitter: @RichN95
  • timoid.timoid. Posts: 3,133
    andyp wrote:
    Alex99 wrote:
    Seems like an odd conclusion. I suppose the standard of the peloton in Merckx's time was very low.

    You can definitely argue that Merkcx dominance was a symptom of lack of competitiveness. Plenty of people here have argued that he'd be a lot less successful if he was racing nowadays.

    Not sure I agree with that. You can't compare eras really, but if you look at the number of riders with multiple monument wins from the Merckx era, there was clearly a golden generation, with De Vlaeminck, Gimondi and Godefroot. Between those four they have thirty eight monument wins.

    But surely that backs up the lack of depth argument? A few good guys cleaning up against a bunch of stiffs*?


    *ok. exaggeration for illustration
    It's a little like wrestling a gorilla. You don't quit when you're tired. You quit when the gorilla is tired.
  • rick_chaseyrick_chasey Posts: 54,995 Lives Here
    If we take the argument from the other direction; so everyone always mocks the 'it was more competitive in my time' chat.

    So, by inference, people seem to suggest that it's linearly always becoming more competitive for the top riders as time goes on.

    Is that genuinely the case?
  • RichN95.RichN95. Posts: 24,934
    If we take the argument from the other direction; so everyone always mocks the 'it was more competitive in my time' chat.

    So, by inference, people seem to suggest that it's linearly always becoming more competitive for the top riders as time goes on.

    Is that genuinely the case?
    It's not so much that it gets more competitive, it's more that the standard gets better and the depth of field increases. For example, Usain Bolt was unchallenged through three Olympics which is unprecendented. So you can argue that it has been uncompetitive. But winners from more competitive eras may not even make the final these days.

    Similarly you can argue that in football the Championship is more competitive than the Premiership where only maybe four teams can possibly win
    Twitter: @RichN95
  • rick_chaseyrick_chasey Posts: 54,995 Lives Here
    Sure, but I don't think Freire is saying that the overall level of the cyclist is slower.

    I think he's saying it's less competitive, in the literal sense.

    And yes, I'd argue the Championship is more competitive than the Premier league ; but Freire isn't talking about chippers, he's talking about the competitions he used to win; Green Jerseys and World Championships.
  • bobmcstuffbobmcstuff Posts: 9,738
    If we take the argument from the other direction; so everyone always mocks the 'it was more competitive in my time' chat.

    So, by inference, people seem to suggest that it's linearly always becoming more competitive for the top riders as time goes on.

    Is that genuinely the case?
    It might just be the same? Or roughly the same.

    I'm in the camp that the depth of field is much greater today and it's probably a bit more competitive for that reason.
  • timothywtimothyw Posts: 2,482
    I'd have thought it isn't continually getting more competitive, for doping if no other reason.

    In the epo boom of the 90s you had domestiques like Riis doping to the moon, bringing themselves into contention in events where otherwise they wouldn't have had a chance.

    As soon at the 50% hematocrit limit was introduced, Riis was no longer a contender.

    Similarly, now we have the bio passport etc I think it's much harder for recklessly ambitious riders to dope themselves into leading contention.

    I could be wrong though, and obviously you could make the same contrary argument that during the epo era it was only possible to win if you were willing to dope, which in itself narrowed the field of contenders.
  • RichN95.RichN95. Posts: 24,934
    edited September 2017
    Sure, but I don't think Freire is saying that the overall level of the cyclist is slower.

    I think he's saying it's less competitive, in the literal sense.

    And yes, I'd argue the Championship is more competitive than the Premier league ; but Freire isn't talking about chippers, he's talking about the competitions he used to win; Green Jerseys and World Championships.
    I would say the Worlds is possibly more competitive. In Freire's day the top nations used to have teams of 12 riders. It was very difficult for a rider outside those nations to win (or even win a medal) as Sagan and Hushovd have done. Most of the WCs in Freire's era were won by Spain or Italy.

    In his Worlds and MSR wins Freire in second place were Zabel (twice), Boonen, Davis, Zberg and Bettini - all in bunch sprints. Only one is a proper sprinter (Boonen wasn't in 2010)

    It probably hasn't changed too much since Freire's day though - he only retired in 2012, not 1992
    Twitter: @RichN95
  • davidofdavidof Posts: 2,446
    Plenty of people here have argued that he'd be a lot less successful if he was racing nowadays.

    He'd have to go on a diet for a start!
  • FocusZingFocusZing Posts: 4,380
    edited September 2017
    why other teams and riders can't come up with a strategy to beat Chris Froome in the Tours and Peter Sagan in one-day races.Cycling has become a “bit boring” in the way that Team Sky and Chris Froome dominate stage races and how rival teams fail to stop Peter Sagan, says former sprint great Mario Cipollini.
    Slovakian Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) won his third consecutive World Championship title in Bergen, Norway.
    http://www.cyclingweekly.com/news/lates ... ing-352749
    Cipollini's take on it. I think the Veulta and Worlds in Norway were brilliant.
  • its more competitive now except where conditions are well known and highly controllable/predictable.

    valverde wall of Huy etc.
    "If I was a 38 year old man, I definitely wouldn't be riding a bright yellow bike with Hello Kitty disc wheels, put it that way. What we're witnessing here is the world's most high profile mid-life crisis" Afx237vi Mon Jul 20, 2009 2:43 pm
  • RichN95.RichN95. Posts: 24,934
    FocusZing wrote:
    why other teams and riders can't come up with a strategy to beat Chris Froome in the Tours and Peter Sagan in one-day races.Cycling has become a “bit boring” in the way that Team Sky and Chris Froome dominate stage races and how rival teams fail to stop Peter Sagan, says former sprint great Mario Cipollini.
    Slovakian Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) won his third consecutive World Championship title in Bergen, Norway.
    http://www.cyclingweekly.com/news/lates ... ing-352749
    Cipollini's take on it. I think the Veulta and Worlds in Norway were brilliant.
    Maybe Froome could turn up to a sign in dressed up as Tarzan with a python draped over his shoulders (and then leave it on the stage). Because that's the sort of hi-jinx that made Cipollini 'exciting'. Otherwise he was the sprinter with the first full team lead out train.
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