Merckx riding everything in site, all year, and winning. A Hinault, Kelly, Mottet or Bettini there in the mix from Paris-Nice till Lombardy.
It's an affinity that even extends to other sports. Like Alpine skiing: I always admired the fact that Bode Miller can win slaloms and downhills with equal effectiveness. A counter-intuitive throwback to the likes of Toni Sailer, Jean Claude Killy, or Gustavo Thoeni. The smart money may say specialization reaps the most rewards, but I for one am glad to celebrate the exceptions. The complete renner.
|Stybar: Can he do a Roger DeVlaeminck and win in Roubaix?|
But it's nice to believe it's still possible to be there in both realms. 2007 and 2008 World Cross Champion Lars Boom's recent attempt to take his cross domination to the road for Rabobank while less than a 'sonic boom', has led to some fantastic road results including victory in the Tour of Belgium, a Vuelta stage, and a Paris Nice stage 1 TT victory. He's been up there in top Superprestige and World Cup rosses past few weeks, but not to his former cross dominance ... yet anyway.
World champion Zdenek Stybar has been in the news a lot lately flirting with a potential move from Hans van Kasteren's Fidea flemish cross juggernaut over to Patrick Lefevre's Quick Step. His new goal is to taking on both the cobbled classics and cross (here).
The jury is out on whether he can pull it off. Kast is hinting in the Belgian press that Styby might be biting off more than he can chew (here), but that might be PR and negotiating posturing. It was well documented on Wellens en Wee that Kast has a soft spot for Styby - bringing him to Belgium, nurturing his development, even lending Styby the keys to his personal Ferrari after he won the world title.
Back in the 50's and 60's guys did it all. Jean Robic and later Charly Gaul were often in the hunt for cross worlds titles. But OK, those were really different times.
The classic reference point for this conversation is the DeVlaeminck brothers. Erik and Roger were cross world champions, and winners on the road as well. People forget that Erik deVlaeminck was second in the Fleche Wallone, and won a Tour de France stage. And his infamous, cross-bred, body-english-acrobatic-shenanigans at the entrance to the Rocourt Velodrome famously ensured a Liege Bastogne Liege victory for kid brother Roger in 1970 that Eddy Merckx is still pissed-off about.
Rolf Wolfshohl was the first. He won the cross worlds in 60, 61 and 63 and scored podiums in 67, 69, 70, 72 and 73.
On the road he was 6th in the 1968 Tour de France and won a Tour stage in 1970. A compact rider, equally at home at the front in either discipline. Come to think of it Robic, Gaul, Wolfshohl all were all guys on the smaller side, great climbers. Statement of the obvious: Cross like climbing punishes excess mass.
As road pro, Thaler won stages in the Tour, Paris Nice and the Dauphine. He also took cyclocross world titles in 1985 and 1987.
here. He also won a silver in the World's Pro Road Race behind Greg LeMond on the super selective Swiss road course in 1983, outsprinted Sean Kelly to win the Tour of Flanders, as well as victories in Liege-Bastogne-Liege, Amstel Gold, and Tour de France stages.
Van der Poel loved his cross though. I recall an interview at the end of his career where he talked about how much he loved training on cross courses, the constant surges to try to drop his companions, and the racing itself. No surprise his son David is an emerging Dutch cross star. A chip off the old kassei one might say.
Well cafesupporters, what do you think? Can Styby be the next Van der Poel, or is it just too specialized now? Will Lars Boom manage to win at the top level in both disciplines?