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  1. #1
    LDB
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    Anquetil / Mercxx versus ?

    Anyone ever wonder what difference, if any, it would have made to some of the best of the best of generations past if they'd had bikes as light and efficient as current riders?
    1974 Raleigh International, 2013 Specialized Crossroads, 195x Hercules 3 spd
    My hero was the tortoise not the hare. One mailbox at a time.

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    Who knows.

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    Travelling hopefully chasm54's Avatar
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    It would have made the same difference to them as it makes to modern riders.

    Ii is impossible to make meaningful comparisons between generations. However, Merckx won a race every week, on average, for six consecutive years. If you want me to guess at how a Merckx in his prime would do against today's stars if he had the benefit of modern equipment and training methods, I'd guess he would eat them like he ate his contemporaries.

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    Trek 500 Kid Zinger's Avatar
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    We go over past and present legands in my boxing forum now and then.
    Joe Gans vs Roberto Duran etc.
    An exercise in speculation and fantasy but I usually participate.
    Not enough film on these two though.

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    Trek 500 Kid Zinger's Avatar
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    OK I'm seeing more footage of Merckx than I thought was out there on this rainy weekend.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NJxp41Hq9pw

    And here's some of Anquetil to some spiffy music
    embedding disabled by OP

    Both great athletes when in their prime.

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    Travelling hopefully chasm54's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zinger View Post
    OK I'm seeing more footage of Merckx than I thought was out there on this rainy weekend.
    Watching film of old races tells you very little about how good past cyclists were. Apart from a few timed events like the hour record, circumstances vary too much for you to make sensible judgements. The only way to form opinions on riders you didn't see (I did see Merckx, albeit in the second half of his career) is to look at their records and look at how superior they were to their contemporaries.

    Merckx was incomparable. He raced more than 100 races per year and in his best years, won half of them. He won nineteen monuments, almost twice as many as the second most successful classics rider in history. He won ten Grand Tours and three world championships. He was a titan. In the most recent biography of him, one of his domestiques is quoted as saying that working for Merckx was hard, because he always insisted on riding at the head of the race. But they didn't mind, he said, because Merckx was so strong he quite often ended up doing most of the work himself.

    Coppi was another one. It is said that in the eight years following the second world war, Coppi was never ever caught if he rode off the front. And he rode off the front quite a lot. I'd have liked to see him, but unfortunately (or fortunately, perhaps) even I am not that old.

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    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Or the reverse.. put the current kids on the old bikes of the 50's and see what their times are like..

    that can be done, but as Pro riders , who will pay for the experiment?

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    powered by Racer Ex gsteinb's Avatar
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    As long as rider A racing against rider B are both on comparable equipment, at the same time in the same place, the difference is negated.

    And of course, if Merckx was racing today he wouldn't (couldn't) race the volume he did with the win percentage. It would be far too difficult in the modern training era and guys using peak periodization to prepare for one big event.

    The telling metric remains how much better a rider is than his contemporaries. And in that category Merckx was far and away the greatest cyclist in history. He rode the same equipment, raced the same sort of schedule, and crushed everything.

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    Senior Member Keith99's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gsteinb View Post
    As long as rider A racing against rider B are both on comparable equipment, at the same time in the same place, the difference is negated.

    And of course, if Merckx was racing today he wouldn't (couldn't) race the volume he did with the win percentage. It would be far too difficult in the modern training era and guys using peak periodization to prepare for one big event.

    The telling metric remains how much better a rider is than his contemporaries. And in that category Merckx was far and away the greatest cyclist in history. He rode the same equipment, raced the same sort of schedule, and crushed everything.
    Yup. Good job of pointing out how things are differetn without sounding dismissive of the numbers of Merckx.

    I came up with an interesting yardstick. That the 3 Major Tours, the 5 monuments and the Worlds. How many of those could a rider win in a year?

    Aside from Merckx and Coppi it has been 3. But only 6 or 7 more did that (and the most recent is in the last decade!) No one besides Merckx has won 3 or more a second time.

    Merckx won 3 or more 7 years in a row, winning 4 twice and 5 twice.

    Oh and the year beforethe streak he swept the 3 major jerseys in the Giro. No one else has won all 3 in a career.

    Yes even Merckx couldn't do now what he did then. But my bet is that if he rode today he would put up nubers that supporters of later riders would claim 'you can't do that any more'.
    Perish any man who suspects that these men either did or suffered anything unseemly.

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    Senior Member Keith99's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chasm54 View Post
    Watching film of old races tells you very little about how good past cyclists were. Apart from a few timed events like the hour record, circumstances vary too much for you to make sensible judgements. The only way to form opinions on riders you didn't see (I did see Merckx, albeit in the second half of his career) is to look at their records and look at how superior they were to their contemporaries.

    Merckx was incomparable. He raced more than 100 races per year and in his best years, won half of them. He won nineteen monuments, almost twice as many as the second most successful classics rider in history. He won ten Grand Tours and three world championships. He was a titan. In the most recent biography of him, one of his domestiques is quoted as saying that working for Merckx was hard, because he always insisted on riding at the head of the race. But they didn't mind, he said, because Merckx was so strong he quite often ended up doing most of the work himself.

    Coppi was another one. It is said that in the eight years following the second world war, Coppi was never ever caught if he rode off the front. And he rode off the front quite a lot. I'd have liked to see him, but unfortunately (or fortunately, perhaps) even I am not that old.
    Bolding mine.

    And unless it has changed in the past couple of years the hour record is still pretty close the mark Merckx set. If I understand corretly they are still allowed to use improvements in materials, but not radical changes in geometry.

    What is not well known is that Merckx originally intended to break the 5 km, 10 km, 20 km and hour records in one ride. He decided that it was crazy even for him.

    He dropped the idea of getting the 5k in that ride. He still set the other 3. Doing that his pace was far from optimal for the hour.
    Perish any man who suspects that these men either did or suffered anything unseemly.

  11. #11
    Travelling hopefully chasm54's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Keith99 View Post
    What is not well known is that Merckx originally intended to break the 5 km, 10 km, 20 km and hour records in one ride. He decided that it was crazy even for him.

    He dropped the idea of getting the 5k in that ride. He still set the other 3. Doing that his pace was far from optimal for the hour.
    Yes, he went off far too fast. Had he paced it sensibly, he might have gone well beyond 50k.

    And just to emphasise how much I am still in awe of the guy, we have to remember that most of his victories, including the hour, came after a near-fatal crash that left him permanently impaired with a twisted pelvis. He says that from then on (1969, after only one Tour win), " I was never the same again... . Without the crash I could have won races far more easily and performed greater exploits in the mountains. Before, they felt like demonstrations - the stage in the Pyrenees when I won by eight minutes, and the Tre Cime di Lavaredo stage in the Giro. I was a level above, then. Afterwards it wasn't so easy. There was less sparkle "

    So little sparkle that he only won another seven GTs and about a dozen monuments etc. etc. etc. The man was a monster.

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    I advie to the OP to just look at the hour record times and you might find the answer, because guys are doing over 40 km/h since a very long time, technology works but human boundaries are hard to overcome.

  13. #13
    Trek 500 Kid Zinger's Avatar
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    Well the OP has got me interested in reading more about this guy who reigned in my lifetime and so I ordered his biography.

    9781845963019_220.jpg

    http://www.cyclingnews.com/news/book...etil-biography

    And here's an interesting 55 minute YouTube video about his career:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xj3CNiJcRag

    Pretty good B+W footage of the man's riding style in that one. True the statistics tell the story in this sport but the footage provides a look and history for waking an interest.

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