Cycling News

Classics Wrap: What’s In a Record?

121st Paris-Roubaix 2024

With a brief pause before the Giro d’Italia, I want to bid the Spring Classics goodbye. Not with a tiresome review of what happened, which you already know, and which (on the men’s side) was so incredibly scripted that it barely merited much discussion in real time. (Women’s entire classics season was [fire emoji].)

The only thing that struck me about the Men’s major races was how Mathieu van der Poel was actually making headway towards some all-time victory records, which is such an odd thing for a guy who just turned 29. I love the guy and we all saw him coming along as a potentially big deal, but… the all-time cobbles winner? He is just now becoming a dominant force in these races, and he is (ahem) already 29. You know the internet meme about “he is Him,” where someone is anointed an almost religious status, or in sci fi terms, the one who was promised, or some such thing?

Photo by Alex Broadway/Getty Images

Mathieu van der Poel is not Him. [Uncle Eddy is still around to remind us of this.] Full on Him designation looks more like what Tadej Pogačar assumed when he won two Tours de France and a pair of Monuments by age 22 (he’s up to six monuments now at ripe old 25). That’s what Him status looks like. Even with Jonas Vingegaard hounding him all summer, Pogačar is on course to blow away his share of records by the time he reaches van der Poel’s current age, to say nothing of the end of Pogi’s career/rampage. The mind boggles, in a way it doesn’t for even as wonderful a rider as van der Poel.

And yet here is the Dutchman, Pou-pou’s grandson, already knocking on the doors of history in the spring. A bit more quietly, so too is Pogačar, and maybe to greater effect in the long run. Let’s quickly run through the all-time victory records to help get at what I’m talking about.

The Monuments:

  • Milano-San Remo: Eddy Merckx, 7 wins
  • Ronde van Vlaanderen: 7 riders with 3 wins
  • Paris-Roubaix: Tom Boonen and Roger De Vlaeminck with 4 wins
  • Liège-Bastogne-Liège: Merckx, 5 wins
  • Il Lombardia: Fausto Coppi with 5 wins

Spring Best of the Rest:

  • E3 Prijs/Saxo Bank: Boonen, 5 wins
  • Gent-Wevelgem: 6 riders with 3 wins
  • Dwars Door Vlaanderen: 14 guys with 2 wins
  • Omloop Het Volksblad: 3 riders (including Van Petegem) with 3 wins
  • Amstel Gold Race: Jan Raas, 5 wins
  • La Flèche Wallonne: Alejandro Valverde, 5 wins

The Other…

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