Popo and the Rainbow jersey

well well well, the Disco "Save Face and Continue the Notion that Bruyneel is a Genius" campaign has begun. to be fair, they did hold the jersey for a day, something only 6 (count 'em!) other teams have done (oh, the record is 8, from the '87 Tour(i think at least)). but after a closetodisastrous TT and an assured and unmitigated disaster in los Pirineos, it's time for Disco to get something done. and today they did, w/ Popo taking a nice stage win. he won the only way he could with the 2 sprinters- Ballan and Freire- with him. Seems like if Freire had given some help, the trio could've survived for the sprint. alas, Disco's gain. we'll see how they go further (w/out Il Falco or Noval- abandons both today)

on the subject of Freire, i always get riled up at the mention of his three World Championships. pisses me off! i like 'real' champions, especially for the monuments of the sport like the major tours, the monument classics and the WC. Freire has shown to be quite the effective rider when on form- and not injured- but the WCs need NOT be won by an occassional rider who doesn't win much else. here are the WCpions from the last 40 years. Furthermore, I've included their ranking according to CyclingRanking.com's rankings as the first ranking, with the 2nd ranking coming from Cycling4all, a ranking i like better, but only provides the top 200 all-time:

1966 Nürburgring-----Rudi Altig-91/62
1967 Heerlen----------Eddy Merckx-1/1
1968 Imola------------Vittorio Adorni-109/51
1969 Zolder------------Harm Ottenbros-1006/xx
1970 Leicester---------Jean-Pierre Monséré-?
1971 Mendrisio---------Eddy Merckx-1/1
1972 Gap---------------Marino Basso-99/128
1973 Barcelona---------Felice Gimondi-11/7
1974 Montreal----------Eddy Merckx-1/1
1975 Yvoir--------------Hennie Kuiper-58/42
1976 Ostuni-------------Freddy Maertens-24/21
1977 San Cristóbal-------Francesco Moser-4/5
1978 Nürburgring-------Gerrie Knetemann-67/95
1979 Valkenburg--------Jan Raas-61/52
1980 Sallanches---------Bernard Hinault-14/2
1981 Prague-------------Freddy Maertens-24/21
1982 Goodwood---------Giuseppe Saronni-21/19
1983 Altenrhein---------Greg LeMond-89/25
1984 Barcelona----------Claude Criquielion-96/90
1985 Giavera di Montello-Joop Zoetemelk-9/8
1986 Colorado Springs---Moreno Argentin-133/55
1987 Villach--------------Stephen Roche-63/48
1988 Ronse--------------Maurizio Fondriest 62 /76
1989 Chambéry----------Greg LeMond-89/25
1990 Utsunomiya--------Rudy Dhaenens-708/xx
1991 Stuttgart------------Gianni Bugno-66/41
1992 Benidorm------------Gianni Bugno-66/41
1993 Oslo------------------Lance Armstrong-29/15
1994 Agrigento-------------Luc Leblanc-251/xx

1995 Duitama--------------Abraham Olano-119/61
1996 Lugano---------------Johan Museeuw-27/36
1997 San Sebastian---------Laurent Brochard-149/xx
1998 Valkenburg-----------Oskar Camenzind-302/xx
1999 Verona----------------Óscar Freire-199/140
2000 Plouay----------------Romans Vainsteins-388/xx
2001 Lisbon-----------------Óscar Freire-199/140
2002 Zolder/Hasselt--------Mario Cipollini-92/50
2003 Hamilton--------------Igor Astarloa-874/xx
2004 Verona----------------Óscar Freire-199/140
2005 Madrid----------------Tom Boonen-370/345

There are a couple issues with this list. The premise of the Freire argument is that the quality of the WCpions has diminished since 1995, the year the WC was moved from a post-Tour August spot to a late Sept/Oct fall spot. This move allowed the Vuelta to be moved to fall and increase its prestige. hasn't happened. the Vuelta is the 3rd-tier tour. sorry. Here are some issues with the analysis:

1. i'm no statistician, and my powers of analysis are suspect, but...

2. the average (non-mathematical) ranking of "fall WC" is dramatically lower than the 'summer WC' riders.

3. you have to take into account that riders like Boonen, Freire, Astarloa are young, and will be able to improve their rankings.

4. the guy at CycleRankings.com refuses to give his method. specious if you ask me. nonetheless, he's prob some math geek who's better at stats than i. guy at Cycling4all does.

5. just compare the number of top-100 riders in 'summer' vs. the # in 'fall'. Museeuw and Cipo have been worthy winners. i guess Olano won a tour, the cheapened Vuelta. Brochard, Astarloa, Camenzind, and Vainsteins are all complete pretenders. Boonen will win LOTS of races before he's through.

6. Notable absentees from the WC roles include, above all, Sean Kelly (3/3), Roger De Vlaeminck (6/10), Laurent Fignon ( 72/27)and Laurent 'Jaja' Jalabert (12/14), and the latest being Erik Zabel (15/30). There are others like Poulidor, Anquetil, and Rominger who were primarily stage-racers, (if i remember, though, that Rominger won a Lombardy and some other big 1-day race). Indurain can also be mentioned, b/c in '95 he gifted Olano his win, not chasing a teammate late in the race, and he also finished 2nd to Bugno one time.

7. Finally, it seems that the great ones from each generation- Mercxk/Gimondi- Maertens/Kuiper/Moser/Raas/Saronni/Zoetemelk-Lemond/Roche/Argentin- Bugno/Fondriest/Museeuw/Cipollini- have won the Rainbow jersey, but the modern riders need to get with it. On face value modern 'complete' riders- good in both Tours and 1-days like Armstrong, Lemond, Bugno, Gimondi, Merckx-have little chance at a Rainbow jersey in the face of sprinters like Boonen and Freire. This list would include cheaters Ullrich and Basso. Oh well. Times change.

Wow, this was a complete but very intertaining waste of time!


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