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HuwB

Top 10 Climbers of All Time

Maybe something here to generate a bit of debate around here, since every body will have their own view on this topic.

http://velonews.competitor.com/20...op-10-climbers-of-all-time_309670

Mmmmm, well..........
ventoux

Re: Top 10 Climbers of All Time

HuwB wrote:
Maybe something here to generate a bit of debate around here, since every body will have their own view on this topic.

http://velonews.competitor.com/20...op-10-climbers-of-all-time_309670

Mmmmm, well..........


my initial thoughts (apart from the obvious....!) is where is Julio Jiminez then?
Boogerd_Fan

where is Virenque??

i'll get my coat
Biosphere

My short answer is that if you were going to pick one active rider, I think Froome edges Contador. It's a bit odd for them to pick Contador and then say the things they say about him. Ditto Armstrong. And the others.

I will reflect on a longer answer, but I'm not sure I know enough of the old school to comment. Mind you, that didn't seem to stop the author Wink
Fontfroide

Boogerd_Fan wrote:
where is Virenque??

i'll get my coat


And your hat, and your gloves.  Laughing
Bartali

What a crock of crap.  

I can think of someone with 9 GT KoM titles who hasn't even made the top 10.  Yet Hampsten makes the list with one.  WTF
gerry12ie

It's not anywhere near balanced enough to provoke a decent debate.  I like Andy Hampsten but honestly he wouldn't make it into a top 50, let alone top 10.  No Bartali, Virenque, Jiminez, Laguia, or even Chiapucchi and Oliva?  

It's difficult to separate the GC rider from the stage hunter or KOM candidate, and the past is too murky to properly consider (if Armstrong and Contador are in then there should be room for Rasmussen) but I would agree with Bio that Froome has the most devastating kick of the current crop.

Daft list though...
MAILLOT JAUNE

Where's Robert Miller?
pantanifan

I think the first 5 on the list are pretty accurate (though not necessarily in the right order!), but as for nos. 6-10 it's very arbitrary and rather biased towards the Tour (rather than the Giro or any other races). Saying that I wouldn't risk coming up with a list of my own, but I think longevity would have to be one factor... (this probably rules out Froome for the time being)
HuwB

Bartali wrote:
What a crock of crap.  

I can think of someone with 9 GT KoM titles who hasn't even made the top 10.  Yet Hampsten makes the list with one.  WTF


Well, he was the most glaring stand-out as far as I was concerned.
Could just as well gone for Horner for their must have US audience quota.

I knew that a certain Italian not being there and his big rival managing the last berth would stir the beast!
Fontfroide

At first glance, and unable to compare the guys who rode up unpaved roads, on fat tyres, with no derailleurs, from ancient history, I would say Hampsten is out for sure.  No idea how he made it into ANYONE'S top ten in the first place.  Don't know why exactly Bottechia is in there, as his career was rather short and I didn't even know he was such a great climber.  I admit ignorance, maybe he deserves it.  The top five should be there for sure, the order being a matter of preference.  Armstrong certainly was a superb climber, basically since he beat anyone he wanted to, on any stage he wished, up a mountain, nearly.  Contador has faded too much in recent years to have a full and wonderful career as a climber, seems like anyone can beat him now.  So that leaves space for Bartali without a doubt, possibly Fuente (although his career was rather short), possibly Chiapucci (whom I rather liked), possibly Ocana (again a short career with high levels in the ITT also).  I do feel like it a bit of shame that guys like Hinault, Lemond, Fignon won't ever make it into the top ten because they were so good at everything.  So with the exception of Bartali and Coppi, who are too good to leave out, most of the rest are “just plain climbers”, not very good at much else (except Bartali and Coppi who were good at everything).  

First thoughts.
Fontfroide

Oh yes, it is obvious to anyone that Coppi was a better climber than Bartali, even the Americans know that.  Laughing
berck

I'm with others here, no Bartali?
Bartali

Fontfroide wrote:
Oh yes, it is obvious to anyone that Coppi was a better climber than Bartali, even the Americans know that.  Laughing


Red rag to a bull .... Wink

Let the statistics speak for themselves:

Tour KoM:  Coppi 2 - 2 Bartali
Giro KoM   Coppi 3 - 7 Bartali

I don't even want to go into longevity and TdF KoM titles seperated by 10 years etc ....
Biosphere

It's a good point about longevity and Froome and him not having done enough yet. I'm inclined to agree. Still, what he did on Ventoux . . .
HuwB

So, no lists any time soon?
Can't we even manage a JC collective TT?

Hampston, Bottecchia, Coppi out, Bartali, Virenque?, Jiminez? in???
Fontfroide

If Coppi goes out … you gotta admit he could climb like crazy whenever he wanted to.  I really was only kidding about Bartali and Coppi, only a true fanatic would care which was "the greatest".  They were both superb.

I like true fanatics by the way.
gerry12ie

Ok, I'll put my head on the block and start with:

Van Impe
Gaul
Bahomontes
Pantani
Herrera
Bartali
Jiminez
Fuente
Coppi
Ahem... Lance Armstrong... (just for something to talk about)
pantanifan

Well done, gerry, we've all been waiting for someone to put their head on the block  Wink  

I'll start by agreeing with the first 6 on your list, plus Armstrong and Coppi...
Bartali

I'm pretty comfortable with 9 out of those 10 though not necessariy in that order ...

1. Bahamontes
2. Bartali
3  Coppi
4  Gaul
5. van Impe / Julio Jimenez
7. Fuente / Herrera / Pantani
10.Massignan (or, and it pains me to say it, Virenque)
gerry12ie

This could be the start of Armstrong's rehabilitation - right here  Very Happy  Very Happy
HuwB

Interesting that we appear to be reaching some sort of consensus.
Most notable for the fact that both lists are "clean" in so far as pre-epo, but for the same, outstanding exception.

Open the door for Il Pirata and I think Gerry may well have put his foot in it, with Armstrong! Laughing
Bartali

My broad thinking is that I have awarded more 'points' to climbers involved in the GC battle and toughing it our on the final climb of the day. Bahamontes is arguably an exception because of his sheer brilliance - but virenque is probably a casualty of this thinking.

Also, a Huw suggests, I have steered away from the epo era where (at least in my perception) the results were exaggerated and misleading.  That's why Pantani is so far down the list.  Brilliant climber, nevertheless its difficult to look past the epo effect.

Armstrong I dismiss because (a) I don't like him and (b) epo etc; and (c) the style of racing on his watch was not conducive to the determination of the best climber.  Burning riders like Heras in the train etc ....
SlowRower

Bartali wrote:
Armstrong I dismiss because (a) I don't like him and (b) epo etc; and (c) the style of racing on his watch was not conducive to the determination of the best climber.  Burning riders like Heras in the train etc ....


I'm not sure (a) has any place in an assessment of ability, but I see your point here!

Point (b) is unarguable and renders (a) and (c) irrelevant.

Point (c) is interesting, though. Heras didn't make Lance faster relative to the opposition. He just made the pace so fast that an attack from a rival was less likely. But even so, Lance still had to be able to match the pace that Heras was setting and his rivals were achieving. As he was able to do this - I don't recall any Froome/Wiggo type incidents - and also then climb faster than everyone else on other days, it's hard to see how one can't claim that in the conditions prevailing in his era, he was the fastest climber in the Tour.

Whether being fastest in an uphill TT type scenario makes you a better climber than someone who might otherwise be able to gain their advantage in a mano-a-mano situation with tactical surges etc is too philosophical for me. If I was riding the Tour, though, I'd prefer to have to horsepower advantage over 30-40 minute efforts rather than have to rely on tactics.

Virenque has no place in any best climber list, as he couldn't really consistently climb faster than anyone significant when the chips were down. You've got to be able to delivery when it's needed in competitions more significant than the KoM.
gerry12ie

Virenque is out for me because of a)  Smile which doesn't mean that Armstrong gets a pass but pretty much all of Armstrong's attacks were deep and meaningful and when coming of that express train pace he could probably do damage to all but the very best.  I tried to avoid the EPO years as best I could but if Pantani is in (and he should be) then other ne'er do wells also deserve a look in, hence Armstrong.  I also think Contador wouldn't hold up against those we have picked so far, yet in recent years he has been consistently considered the best climber of his generation.  

It is worth noting of course that Merckx delivered two of the very greatest mountain exploits in '68 and '69 but I reckon he has enough gongs to be excluded from this one.
Boogerd_Fan

is everyone forgetting Boogerd's magical efforts in 2007?
gerry12ie

Boogerd_Fan wrote:
is everyone forgetting Boogerd's magical efforts in 2007?


Yes Wink
Bartali

SlowRower wrote:
Point (c) is interesting, though. Heras didn't make Lance faster relative to the opposition. He just made the pace so fast that an attack from a rival was less likely. But even so, Lance still had to be able to match the pace that Heras was setting and his rivals were achieving.


If the Disco approach didn't favour LA's abilities then they wouldn't have employed it so it is crazy to imply it wasn't advantageous to him and less so to his competitors.  Also, if you have many of the best climbers on your team and you burn them out on the front of the train then its hard to see how its a good model to determine the best climbers simply because the best climbers aren't racing to win.  And you are quite right that the train neutralised attacks ... which is also why it wasn't the best era to determine the best climber precisely because people couldn't race naturally.

IMO Contador was never a great climber - albeit a very good one.  I've always maintained that he can only climb in spurts and very rarely puts in dominant performances.
SlowRower

Bartali wrote:
And you are quite right that the train neutralised attacks ... which is also why it wasn't the best era to determine the best climber precisely because people couldn't race naturally.


I guess it would be useful to agree criteria for "best climber" before trying to agree who the best climbers are. There are so many aspects to climbing that realistically, one needs to sub-divide, as the guy who's best at the Tour of Flanders type climbs isn't likely to be best at alpine climbs etc.

If I'm reading you correctly, you appear to be putting an emphasis on racing uphill, as opposed to simply consistently getting up hills faster than your main rivals. I can see the logic here, as in athletics, there's more kudos for winning major races than being able to produce fast times in pacemaker led events.

The point you appear to be overlooking is that whilst Lance had the "train", his most memorable climbing efforts came without any team-mates and indeed without any opposition in attendance, so he was quite nifty at the mano-a-mano stuff as well. In fact, did he ever lose any significant time to a Tour GC rival? Further, weren't his major time gains in the hills as a result of solo efforts? (Admittedly after the opposition had been softened up over the succession of climbs during a key stage.)
Fontfroide

Taking your point into account, I have always thought the best climbers were the guys who could attack from afar and prevent anyone from catching them (whether alone or with one or max two other riders) all the way to the top of the last climb, in some serious mountains.  They can also attack in the last ten k of a big climb and ride everyone off their wheel.  Obviously being KOM counts for something, but not when it is a calculated Jalabert/Virenque/Moncoutie type move.  And they have to have won a fair few hard mountain stages as well.  Oh yes, they have to be pretty decent at descending too.  Voila.

I don't see why Armstrong could not be considered, since he fulfils all the criteria, but like several others on our joint lists, doped.  I refuse to put him on my list out of sheer semi-ethical stubbornness and prejudice, but he could do all that.  Virenque seldom did any of that.  Don't know what those Spanish climbers like Fuente, etc did.
Fontfroide

Taking your point into account, I have always thought the best climbers were the guys who could attack from afar and prevent anyone from catching them (whether alone or with one or max two other riders) all the way to the top of the last climb, in some serious mountains.  They can also attack in the last ten k of a big climb and ride everyone off their wheel.  Obviously being KOM counts for something, but not when it is a calculated Jalabert/Virenque/Moncoutie type move.  And they have to have won a fair few hard mountain stages as well.  Oh yes, they have to be pretty decent at descending too.  Voila.

I don't see why Armstrong could not be considered, since he fulfils all the criteria, but like several others on our joint lists, doped.  I refuse to put him on my list out of sheer semi-ethical stubbornness and prejudice, but he could do all that.  Virenque seldom did any of that.  Don't know what those Spanish climbers like Fuente, etc did.
gerry12ie

SlowRower wrote:

I guess it would be useful to agree criteria for "best climber" before trying to agree who the best climbers are. There are so many aspects to climbing that realistically, one needs to sub-divide, as the guy who's best at the Tour of Flanders type climbs isn't likely to be best at alpine climbs etc.



Good point, and for the Classics (especially GL, LBL and RVV) Bartoli comes in to my top 10, so it's bye bye Lance (who could have been a great puncheur if he had only trained for up to six hours a day) Wink


Link
Biosphere

I certainly think the crowdsourced list is an improvement, but I'm not really able to put my head on the block cos I've seen so little footage of the old school. I like the idea of having a classics oriented climber in there though.

WRT Armstrong, it's too much of a stretch for me to have him there given what we know went on. Also when I think of him in for example 2005 not being able to drop Valverde on Courcheval (and just about dropping Rasmussen and Mancebo) or Basso and himself tag teaming a pair of stages in 2004, it might be that his contemporaries were not too different once they got their medical programs sorted too.
Boogerd_Fan

Der Kaizer on Arcalis in ’97 is still one of those great climbing performances in my view. Although probably I have rose-tinted glasses on that one, as I started watching only from the mid-Indurain years, and Ullrich's ride them off my wheel approach, combined with "fresh" Liggett commentary was still innocently taken as being the best thing ever at the time.

Perhaps reason why it’s difficult to pick someone from 90’s/00’s is because due to the “help” there were more riders climbing well, and less selective mountain goat attacks [Pantani exception].
The way Pantani rode in ’98 should secure him on this list even with the “help”.
By the same logic I can understand why some people would also auto-select Armstrong, but he’s hardly a pure-climber. I would go for Alberto if pushed for a 00’s talent.

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