Cycling Revealed has been wallowing for a month in the subject of what was the all-time greatest Tour de France, and CCG VW got discussion going here on what was #2, but perhaps all of this needs a bit of context.
[As an aside, there's not a ton of disagreement among the under-45 set who don't remember seeing Merckx that Greg LeMond's last-second, eight-second victory is the greatest of all time. Obviously picking the best-ever (or worst-ever, for you politics junkies) of anything that spans more than 50 years is kind of futile, since the media age has drastically changed our understanding of everything since, what, the 70s? Maybe the 1924 Tour really did kick ass, and maybe the still black & white protographs prove it. But don't expect me to make an informed decision about it.]
Anyway, so what then are the criteria for deciding? Here are some ideas of mine, at least:
- A close finish. Speaks for itself. Needn't be under a minute, just within someone's range late in the Tour.
- Aggressive riding. At the end the Posties were pretty much locking down the entire race for Lance. I don't blame them, but it pretty much disqualifies the last two Tours from any "best ever" competition.
- A sense that you're watching the Giants. Very subjective here, but (for example) when Lance won in 1999 against Alex Zulle and Abraham Olano, it was great for lots of Lance-related reasons. But he didn't cross into legend until he beat Pantani and Ullrich the next year.
Anything else? I didn't list "great parcours" because although that helps, you can have a great race w/o it. Also left off last-day drama, which we will never see again (unless Vino's sneaky rise from 6th to 5th last year gets your blood going). I need your help. I can't do this alone. Thanks!