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Are today’s pro cyclists more sportspersonlike than 20 years ago?

Are today's pro cyclists more sportspersonlike than 20 years ago?

Rivalries are a part of sport, and for years we’ve seen and heard chirps and sass. Some sports tend to have more – think of Conor McGregor trolling his opponents. NHL star Brad Marchand is a piece of work. The Boston Bruins player likes to lick and kiss players on the other team. Boxer Mike Tyson famously trash-talked Lennox Lewis.

In cycling, there’s always been ego and bravado. “I slept like a baby the night before because I knew that I’d win the next day,” 5-time Tour de France champion Bernard Hinault once said.

If you watched cycling 20 years ago and compare it to now, you may notice something. After races, it’s common for a rider who loses (as in second) to congratulate the winner. That could be a fist bump, maybe even a hug. Even in interviews, riders tend to be far more complimentary to their rivals.

More humility in the peloton

Tadej Pogačar, one of the greatest riders in the world, is often quite humble in interviews. A great descender with fantastic technical skills, he downplayed his talent if he did cyclocross against Mathieu van der Poel. “I would say one day, but I think it’s not for me. Mathieu would probably lap me,” he laughed. “I cannot jump over the barriers and stuff like this either.” He doesn’t mention that he can jump over barriers or has won ‘cross before.

Former professional cyclist Lance Armstrong decided to weigh in on the subject because, well, Lance Armstrong. On a recent podcast with Danny Duncan, he said things were much different than in his day.

Tom Pidcock and Wout van Aert had the most sportsmanlike crash

“This generation now, these guys go hammer, race each other, some guy will lose. The guy who wins is waiting at the finish line. They’re fucking hugging it out…I’m like, what?”

The Texan didn’t stop there.

“You’re just waiting there so you can all hug this out? After you just lost? I’m not saying that our generation was the way to do it or that I was proud. I think it’s kind of cool to see, but it wasn’t like that for us. Never even crossed my mind,” he continued.

Armstrong explained that part of his motivation to beat riders would actually be based on him not liking a…

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