Can we come up w/ a rider comparison to Pogacar besides Eddy Merckx?

Most comparisons seem to always be to the best-of-the-best. But I somehow think that such a comparison might be a disservice not just to Eddy (he’s still a step above) and Pogacar (he’s still scoping out his limits) but to other accomplished cyclists throughout history that might also merit reappraisal through the prism of contemporary figures.

So who else might be an interesting point of comparison, and why (or why not)?

  • Alfredo Binda?
  • Fausto Coppi?
  • Gino Bartali?
  • Bernard Thevenet?
  • Bernard Hinault?
  • Alberto Contador?
  • ???

Maybe we can revive the Eddy Merckx ones once Pogacar is 28-29, and see how things are faring.

I probably would have said Hinault but not for personality reasons :smiley:

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Fignon? Both great stage and 1 day racers and both have had success in the early parts of their careers.


I think Nibali would be a better modern comparison than Bertie…

…or maybe, strangely, Roglic; I mean, what would his palmares be like now if he’d started cycling when he was 10 years old? In terms of attributes, the 2 are very similar across the board, other than bike handling :thinking:


Merckx is considered ‘the best’ because people are nostalgic.

Apart from that: you simply cannot compare riders of ‘the good old days’ with contemporary riders. Even comparisons with riders of 10-20 years ago are off. People’s physiology has changed, training methods and support have changed, doping and doping control has changed, team compositions and riders relationships within a team and across teams have changed, race calendars have changed, races, rules and race context have changed, mediatisation has changed, equipment has changed, road surface has changed…

Comparing is not apples-to-apples. It’s more like kiwi’s-to-pine-apples.



(Ducks the various objects thrown at him)

I’m not throwing shade. Set the doping discussion aside. Early Lance was capable of performing in one-day races. Latter Lance was capable of winning Tours and nearing the top of races like Amstel.

The difference is that Pogacar is doing both at the same time. That simply was not in the manual in the late 90s-early aughts.

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There is no point doing that.

LeMond? People forget he was a damn good and enthusiastic one day rider. It’s a shame he didn’t get to do more at his peak.


I’m going to respectfully disagree here - the stats just don’t lie… Merckx is such an outlier that his greatness can’t be debated, like Bradman.

Edit - obviously, it can be debated: that’s what we’re doing right now :laughing:


Pogacar is currently reminiscent of Merckx in his dominance, and in his ability to win a range of races over a range of terrain.

However, Merckx’s palmares is so extraordinary there is currently no comparison. If Pogacar keeps going at his current rate, though,then it’ll be a different story.

Of course - and absolutely without any insinuations or ill-will - we have been here before, most notably in other sports. Tiger Woods seemed certain to overhaul Nicklaus’ record, to take just one example.

There’s a long way to go.


You must be fun at parties. :slight_smile:

Or in cycling itself, Jan Ullrich seemed poised to destroy Merckx’s (et al) record of 5 Tour wins…and never won another one after 1997.

I don’t know that Pog is any different or “better” than previous Tour winners from the last 30 years…except for his willingness to put himself on the line to win other races. Since the days of Indurain (and arguably Lemond), Tour winners have increasingly focused their seasons almost exclusively on July.

Indurain, Armstrong*, Contador and Froome all had the capabilities to win other races, but choose to focus on le Tour.


Closest I can think of is Frank Vandenbroucke. Maybe not as good a GC rider as Pog, because that would bore Frank, but similarly brilliant in his effortless ability to just rock up and win bikes races whenever he damn well felt like it. Plus, it’s Frank so the coolest looking thing on a bike, drop you in the morning, steal your girlfriend in the evening that Pog couldn’t ever touch.


My pick would be Lemond or more likely Hinault. The badger had won L-B-L at 23 and his first two grand tours at 24.


Bernal was the next big thing as well, until his back problems started. Ullrich was a victim of bad timing. It’s possible that he had the biggest diesel engine of his era, but people were running higher-test fuels at the time.

Meh…Ullrich was running pretty high-octane stuff too.

Ullrich’s biggest problem was his lack of discipline in the off-season. Every year it was the same thing…gain too much weight, struggle in the early season, drop out of races and then try and “rush” his form in time for July. Always left him lacking in sufficient base for a 3 week race.

But Bernal is indeed another example…even without his back issues (and horrific crash this year), I don’t think he had the capabilities to challenge Pog…but following 2019, his future was no doubt, very bright.

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Here’s the problem with comparisons to Merckx: there’s no denying Merckx’s greatness, but he rode in a different era in which there was less specialization and arguably a lower level of competition. There may be more than one Tour winner since the Merckx era who might well have been capable of a Merckx-like career (or at least denied Merckx his legendary status) had they raced in his era. I would argue that Merckx’s versatility may be what set him apart more than his dominance in grand tours. In Pogacar’s still young career, he looks like he could be the most versatile grand tour winner since at least Hinault, but if we drop the grand-tour winner requirement, Wout Van Aert may be the over all most versatile rider since Merckx.


Comparing different eras is always a fools errand in any sport because so much of someone’s dominance is due to the competition they faced and the nature of the sport itself.

The palmares Merckx earned would be impossible in this current day and age of specialization. Closest I can think of is LeMond who was physiologically in a different league and capable of 1 day results and GC results and even he really didn’t have the classics success Pogačar has. If Pog keeps it up though they’ll be using him as a yardstick what this guy is doing is really incredible.

Not certain why people keep making this comparison. Lemond never won a classic, while Pog has.

As others have noted, Fignon and Hinault are likely the better comparisons. Both had GT and Classics success at relatively young ages.

Pogacar hasn’t won Worlds (yet), and Lemond won 2 of those, as well as getting on the podium of plenty of monuments. I’m not sure Pogacar wins that Liege or Lombardia sprint if Kelly, Argentin, Saronni et al were there (and weren’t 60 years old, obviously).

And the other comparison with Pog that has been made is, of course, Fignon, who also won 2 Tours very young, and who contested (and won) monuments.

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