THE ALL- ROUNDER IS BACK
The best male rider in 2021 was Tadej Pogacar, who won the Tour de France, LiègeBastogne-Liège and Il Lombardia. The best female was… well, either Marianne Vos, who won Amstel Gold Race and Gent-Wevelgem, or Anna van der Breggen, who won Flèche Wallonne and the Giro Rosa, or Annemiek van Vleuten, who won the Tour of Flanders and Tour of Norway, or Demi Vollering, who won Liège-Bastogne-Liège and the Women’s Tour.
All-rounders are nothing new on the women’s side of the sport - Marianne Vos has been winning anything and everything for 15 years now. However, the men’s side is swinging back towards allrounders after 30 years of increasing specialisation. Miguel Indurain set the tone by winning the Tour de France, a couple of Giros and not much else in the 1990s. Lance Armstrong focused solely on the Tour. This century, sprinters have sprinted, climbers have climbed, time triallists have time trialled and puncheurs have punched. However, the winners of the big races these days are also a factor elsewhere. Pogacar was the most successful example, but Wout van Aert won a sprint, a time trial and a mountain stage at the Tour, while Mathieu van der Poel contended in classics and in the first week of the Tour. Van Aert and Van der Poel also maintain a prolific sideline in cyclo-cross. Primož Roglic won the Vuelta but also won one-day races, plus the Olympic Games time trial. Even Egan Bernal got in on the act, with a podium place in Strade Bianche before winning the Giro. These riders are setting an example - the preeminent up-and-coming riders in the sport are Tom Pidcock (winner of Brabantse Pijl and the Olympic mountain bike race) and Remco Evenepoel (a European TT champion, classics winner and stage race winner). These riders are all increasingly seeing any race as a fair target.