This afternoon, perusing Chris' post, Sprinters Statistics: A First Crack, I got the impulse to expand his table starting with other sprinters from the past year; see how Freire and Hushovd, Haussler and Ciolek measured up. So I started by looking at a couple of riders... Oi. Eventually I will add to that table but first I had to define- who was a sprinter? I mean it seems obvious, right? Well let me give you two short bios of sprinters for the past year:
Sprinter A: After warming up in the early season Tour Mediterranean and a couple single day races, I started my season at Het Volk with a podium finish. Not bad. I didn't do so well in the next day's K-B-K but hey, it was the next day and I don't cherry pick races as a rule: I much prefer stage races to one day Classics even if I can't keep up in the mountains. So after K-B-K, I hit my first stage race, Paris-Nice, which I began with a bang, winning the opening prologue (as I often do). The next two flattish days in the driving rain I didn't fare quite so well (chapeau to Gert Steegmans navigating in that driving rain!) but I did well enough to win the Points competition.
With no stage races pending I did make an effort in my favorite Monument, MSR- I almost won it! (came in 9th in the trailing pack), then Flanders (tough race) and finally Gent Wevelgem where I came in 15th but never was really in it- too flat!
After that my season was strictly stage racing for me starting with 4 days of Dunkirk then Catalunya, Dauphine Libere, and the Tour de France. I hoped to go to the interesting and hilly Olympic course and the hilly Worlds RR but I got sick at the end of the Tour. I tried to give it a go at Deutschland but I didn't have any more in me so I shut down for the year. I had my share of successes- the Points jersey at Catalunya, 4th on Points at Dauphine, but my big goal- the Points jersey at the Tour I just missed coming in 2nd.
Go to the jump for the next bio
I love bunch sprints. Its like some Aussie post-apocalyptic mayhem out there where you survive by weaving your way through the losers. My season started early but slow with the TDU but I kept having nagging aches and pains. Nothing to complain about , mind you- no worries!- but the first half of the season I just wasn't able to get it together to win. Whenever I felt like I was getting into super form- a 7th on Stage 1 of T-A, 14th at Dwars door Vlaanderen - Waregem (I love Belgian cobbles), I would slip back- 33rd at Gent - Wevelgem which is normally great for me and 3rd at Scheldeprijs- I should have won that race! I did win a stage at Romandie- finally! but I sucked at the Giro and I always clean up there.
Suisse saw me looking good again but the Tour... I just didn't have it. I was pissed. Deutschland was no better but finally I got my form by winning Vattenfall and Paris-Brussels. That was good. Paris-Tours was disappointing what with Gilbert breaking away but I'm sure that if we had caught him I would have won the bunch sprint.
As you can see I like flat races. I can take some hills but not too many. I partake in races like MSR and the Worlds RR but I have no chance in those races. This year was difficult with no stage wins at the Tour or Giro where I've had so many in the past but its no joke mate- I am the best cyclist ever from my country.
So yes, you can compare these two sprinters with very different M.O.'s- in this case Hushovd and McEwen, The God of Thunder and the Pocket Rocket, but just trying to do so, as well as including other sprinters as diferent as Boonen, O'Grady, Freire, Ciolek, and Cavendish, sort of makes the term "sprinter" kinda useless cause its so vague: basically cyclists who have can generate high speeds briefly although otherwise they might be very different. The same problem exists with other vague terms- mountain goats or Classics specialists or chronomen etc. All of these terms tend to lump very different riders together.
This problem, as I see it, gets aggravated by the races themselves, or to say it better, what kinds of races riders go for. All too often for my taste riders overly specialize, they get some success in one or two types of races and then neglect trying hard in the rest. Drives me nuts. So when I see Cancellara talking this fall about changing his body somewhat to actually contest the Ardennes and maybe eventually going for the GC in the Tour, my heart skips a beat. One of these riders is alive! One of these riders is enjoying himself!
So before trying to fit them into Chris' table I thought of a different post- They're All Classics- and so I'm backtracking to THAT post and I hope you can all help me. What follows (wait for it!) is a rating of (most of) the major riders as done in that post: what type of races do particular riders do best in. Read that post and you'll understand.
Before I give you a list, I do have one complaint with Chris' 1-10 rating system of the Classic courses. Let's see... okay here's how I would put my complaint:
In 21st place at L-B-L this year was Juan Mauricio Soler.
Get it? IMO (and I realize its just my opinion) cycling has one big hole in it: there's no one day race of any size that has a hillier course than Lombardia or Liege-Bastogne-Liege. Nuts! There's no Class or Monument for true Goats. We have stage races that have much hiller days obviously but... imagine if one week after LBL, the interested riders would stage a one day race- 200 km- that ended atop L'Alpe d'Huez or Mt. Ventoux. Wow! Think of the fireworks of such a race! Unlike every year that mountain is used in the Tour, the actual race up it is dominated by the larger GC race: the GC riders aren't racing just for that day. What if they were just racing for that one day?
I would love to see if in fact Contador could shake Valverde and Evans and Sastre. If Kirchen could challenge various Schlecks. If Gesink could shake Kreuziger. If Nibali or Di Luca or Cunego could keep up- or if they could shake the likes of Soler on the hills before the final HC ascent. Imagine having six of these guys arrive at the flat at the top and sprinting for the win. A true one day race for the Goats. A true Mountain Monument. We don't have one and that's a shame. So for the purposes of these ratings, I'm designating HC for guys who can um do HC climbs.
One other difficulty with rating the riders: there's this split in the peloton where very few of the better climby type riders race Flanders or easier. Take Cunego. I would love to see him at Flanders but he never goes. Valverde. Pfannberger. So below I am taking some guesses. If only more riders had Cancellara's elan...
Okay back to the rider ratings. Remember I'm using the scale that Chris pulled out of his ass carefully concocted in that earlier post. Riders who have parentheses around a 1, (1) , are good at Paris-Roubaix but not so much in other flat courses.
Cavendish: 1-2 I'm tempted to say just 1 but he did drag his butt over the Giro.
McEwen: 1-3 Your basic sprinter range.
Boonen: 1-5 Doesn't try anything hiller than Flanders. Why isn't he a better chronoman? Why doesn;the take chances like Ballan?
Bennati: 1-5 Although I think of him as having Freire-like hill-ability, I don't see that backed-up yet with real results.
Forster: 1-4 Not totally allergic to hills- as long as they end way before the finish line.
Fletcha: (1) 2-6
Ciolek: 1-6 Impressive Bayern Rundfahrt this year.
Freire- 2-6 or 7 or 8. See, here's where its tough: he nailed 11th this year at LBL. That's a 10 race. My guess though is that the longer hills of Lombardia- a 9 race- would be tougher on him and he can't do the Mur de Huy all that well.
Hincapie: (1) 2-5
Sly Chavanel: 2-6 Tough for me to figure him out
H\o/ste: (1) 3-5
Hushovd- 3-7. He's tough to rate as well at the high end but I'm thinking of his win on stage 2 of the Tour.
Van Avermaet: 3-7
Devolder: (1) 2-6..7..8..9..10 Ya know in a way he's like Cancellara but without the head.
Gilbert: 2-5 But is he really competitive in so many of his races?
Mid-Majors (hey- I'm watching a college basketball game as I'm typing this.)
Ballan: (1) 2-9- 10 anyone?
Pfannberger: 3-10 Amstel? Check. LBL? Checkerooni. Do Flanders!
Kroon- 3-10 . Not a chance he costs 2 points in 2009.
Cancellara: 3-8 (10 or HC). I know he doesn't yet have the chops on the hills but he a) was impressive on stage 3 of California (Mt Hamilton/Sierra Road) b) was totally impressive on the Tour mountains and c) is losing weight and d) is thinking of transforming into a GC guy.
Rebellin: 3-10 Has Tin Tin ever done Flanders? OTOH, seeing Rebellin and Bettini ride so hard up the Angrilu (the Koppenberg x10) this summer was just amazing. They couldn't hold that form for the next day's mountains but just imagine a one day mountain Monument: more riders would contest it than one might initially think.
Di Luca- 5-10 Killer races MSR but hasn't had the results.
Horner: 6-10 Good at Emilia. Good at Lombardia. Good at Bend while carrying a rider. I can imagine him starring in Pollack riding home with a case of beers on his handlebars. Its all good.
Kirchen: 3-10. HC seems like a stretch still. Could probably do MSR.
Lovkvist: 5-10 or HC? Jens? A little help?
Moving to goats
Rodriguez: 5-HC Amstel and the freakin' Angliru. Probably could do a mean Flanders. Has dabbled at MSR with little effect- so far.
Gesink: 6-HC The more I look at him the more impressed I am.
Kreuziger: 7-HC Needs to develop his one day skills but they're there.
Vandevelde: 7-HC? I'm reaching here, but remember there aren't too many results to work off of.
Valverde: 3-HC Would love to see him try Flanders too. And yes, HC- the problem is he isn't consistent nor the very best.
Contador: 7-HC. Given the right line on the Mur de Huy he could take La Fleche.
Okay. This is a rough draft. Corrections, additions, anything will be appreciated. And Chris- I hope your throat is less scratchy. We'll get onto the next stage soon.