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Top 6 Climbers Of All Time | Road Cyclists Vs Mountains

Top 6 Climbers Of All Time | Road Cyclists Vs Mountains

– In this video we are going to go through some of the best climbers of all time. Riders with immense power to weight ratios who specialise in soaring up mountains at breathtaking speeds. (booming) We have endeavoured to come up with a list of the seven greatest
climbers of all time. But as you can well imagine it’s quite difficult to
whittle it down to that number. So before we start I’ve got a disclaimer, which I’m going to read out right now. For a start, there have
been over 100 years of fantastic racing,
exceptional feats of endurance and athletic panache. To limit ourselves to seven riders will inevitably leave
some great riders out. Furthermore, cross-generational
comparisons are a minefield. It’s impossible to know how Chris Froome would fare against Eddy Merckx or if Pantani would put away Coppi. The equipment’s changed,
the racing’s changed, the roads have changed
and the surfaces are often much better now than the
gravel tracks of 1920s. Also for a large portion of sports history there was no drugs testing. Right with the disclaimer done, we shall begin. (upbeat music) Number one on our list is Marco Pantani. One of the most extraordinary
climbers of his generation. Now Italians have a word for climber and that is scallatore. But they have a different
term for climbers like Pantani which is scatista. This is a term given to
climbers who are able to repeatedly accelerate even on the steepest slopes and basically
decimate their rivals. Now Pantani was always
instantly recognisable with the bald head or the bandanna, the earring in one ear
and that goatee beard and it was a look which
earned him a nickname, el pirata, or the pirate. He was also very recognisable
for his climbing style, almost always out the
saddle and in the drops. However it wasn’t his look or his climbing style which made him great it was the fact that he
could go up mountains like something off a shovel. And it was this ability which enabled him to achieve that rare feat of winning the Tour de France and the Giro d’Italia in the very same year, back in 1998. The following year in 99 he was again dominating the Giro d’Italia, he won four stays and
he was in the race lead, but then after a blood
doping trial returned, his hematocrit was too high and he was ejected from the race. Pantani was never quite
the same rider again and very sadly he died in 2004
of acute cocaine poisoning. (upbeat music) In the modern era it is Chris Froome who’s been dominating the Grand Tours. So far he’s won the Tour
de France four times he won the Giro d’italia in 2018 and he won the Vuelta a Espana, well now twice in fact. As soon as the road starts to go uphill Chris Froome seems to be an advantage. It was in Kenya where Froome first learned about his climbing talent. It’s said that he spent lots of time in the Nairobi Mountains. On occasion he used to camp up there too. But his commitment and stubbornness wasn’t just evident on
the bike but also off it. Apparently at one point he used the Kenyan Cycling Association’s
hotmail account to email the sports
governing body, the UCI, to inform them that Kenya would
be sending an under-23 team to the World Championships. Now I think I’m safe in saying that Froome’s climbing style is
not particularly elegant, with his head down and his elbows out. But it sure is effective. That first came to prominence at the Vuelta a España in 2011 where he initially finished second, but then he’s recently been promoted to the winner of that race. The following year he
helped Bradley Wiggins to the Tour de France title in 2012 bagging himself second in the process but it was in 2013 that he
really made a name for himself. He just couldn’t stop winning from the start of the
year at the tour of Oman. He was at the the critérium international, the tour de Rome and did
the Critérium du Dauphiné and of course the Tour de France. And in fact if you take Lance
Armstrong out of the equation he became the first
rider the following year to successfully defend his title since Miguel Indurain back in 1995. Since then he’s gone to win a
further two tours of France, and last year he became the first rider to hold all three of the Grand
Tour titles at the same time since Bernardino in 1983. (upbeat music) Couldn’t possibly have a list of the world’s greatest climbers
without including this man. Federico Bahamontes. He became the first rider in history to achieve the career triple in that he won the King of
the Mountains competition and all three of the Grand Tours. He won the Tour de France in 1959 of course winning the King of
the Mountains in the process, and actually he won the overall prize of King of the Mountains no fewer than six times at
the Tour de France alone. He had a nickname, and that
was the eagle of Toledo. Toledo being the small province in central Spain where he comes from, an eagle because every
time the road went uphill, he would take flight, like an eagle. There is also a monument
of Bahamontes in Toledo donated by the Fundacion Sulest to represent and honour everything that he achieved on the bike. And rather fittingly
it’s on an upward slope so he’s still going
uphill to this very day. What an absolute climbing legend. (upbeat music) Only two riders in the history of cycling have won the King of the Mountains classification at all
three of the Grand Tours, so it would make a lot of sense
to have them both in here. Step forward, Luis Lucho Herrera. He could out-climb some
of the greats of the time, including the likes of Sean Kelly, Bernardino and Laurent Fignon. And in 1984 he took what
was almost undoubtedly the most important win
for Colombian cycling. It was his first ever Tour de France, it was stage 17, and it
finished up Alp d’Huez. Which is where he attacked, dropping some of the greats of the time. Vignon, Ena and also Robert Miller, and basically they never
ever saw him again. However, it was in 1987 that he firmly cemented his status
as legendary climber, in becoming the first South
American to win a Grand Tour, that Grand Tour being the Vuelta. Despite having lost three minutes to Sean Kelly in an individual time trial. However, as soon as the
road tilted upwards, he would never look back, attacking his rivals at almost
every single opportunity, including in fact on stage 11 which finished up Lagos de Covadonga. There he attacked his rivals again, won the stage and also
took enough time on them to become the first Colombian rider to go into the lead of a Grand Tour. Really difficult actually to overstate just how important Herrera has
been for Colombian cycling, in essence the current crop
of Colombian climbing talent, are walking the path that he trod for them back in the 1980s. (upbeat music) This man could make a good case of being the best Spanish
cyclist of all time, but it’s not for his victories
at the Tour de France in 1973 or at the Vuelta in 1970, that Ocana makes our list. Rather for his exploits when he attacked with Jose Manuel Fuente, over the Col du Galibier
and Col du Télégraphe putting seven minutes
into their closest rivals. Although for me it was 1971 where he cemented his
status as climbing legend. It was a race actually where he ended up having to pull out whilst
in the yellow jersey. But his exploits really
began on stage eight which finished up the Puy de Dôme. There he sensed something that most other riders
rarely ever got to see, that Eddy Merckx was vulnerable. He attacked and went on the Windsor stage, and although he only put
15 seconds into Merckx that was basically a
sign of things to come. It was on a stage 11 though where he really showed his class. A short 134 kilometre mountain stage. He followed an attack on the
very first climb of the day, by Joaquim Agostinho. Amazingly, they were
able to drop Eddy Merckx almost immediately. But a Ocana was not satisfied
with just doing that, he attacked again and went solo 60 kilometres from the finish. By the time he got to the
top of the penultimate climb of the day, his lead
over the next rider on the road was four minutes and that had grown to six by the time they got to the finish. Three-time Tour de France
winner Louison Bobet claimed that his exploits on that stage we’re just as good as any a Fausto Coppi’s legendary solo raids. Now that is a decent climber. (upbeat music) In my opinion, any rider
that earns the nickname the Angel of the Mountains, thoroughly deserves a place on this list. Charly Gaul was a cyclist from Luxembourg, who first raced in the mountains in 1950 at the Tour of Austria. He was only 17, but he won a stage up
the Grossglockner pass. It’s fair to say though
that his first few outings at the Tour de France
didn’t really go to plan, he abandoned most of them, but it was 1955 where he really set the
cat amongst the pigeons. He wasn’t great on the flat, that was partly down
to a fairly weak team, but once he hit the
mountains and the Alps, he really came into his own. There was one stage which
went over the Galibier and the Col Du Télégraphe and there he put 14 minutes and 47 seconds into all his rivals. That launched him from 37th on GC right up to third. And when the race hit the Pyrenees he started attacking again, winning stage 17 ahead of
eventual overall race winner Louison Bobet. Those exploits earned him the over all in the King of the Mountains competition and the third step of the podium, and really that was
just one example of how when he hit the mountains Charly Gaul would make a big comeback. He also in 1958, set the record for the
ascent of Mont Ventoux, one hour two minutes and nine seconds, and when you consider the
surface wasn’t great at the time it’s pretty incredible to think it was 31 years until Jonathan
Vaughters broke that time. (upbeat music) And finally we have a rider who won the mountains classification three times at the Gira Rosa and also won the Grand Booke and is easily the fastest
GCN presenter ever. Of course I am talking about Emma Pooley. Now one of her most
impressive climbing exploits came back at the 2014 Giro Rosa. There were three
mountainous stages that year including back-to-back summit finishes on stages eight and nine, and Emma won all of them. She’s also twice won
the Taiwan KOM challenge which finishes at 3,275
metres above sea level on the Wuling pass. And in 2017 in fact she put 16 minutes into her closest rival and 20 minutes into Si’ Richardson as well although that doesn’t necessarily make you a fantastic climber. Not content though with
just being a great climber on the bike, she’s also pretty damn good off the bike as well. She regularly competes
in mountainous triathlons and has won the Alpe d’Huez
long course event in the past and also competes in
mountains running events. Now as we said in the disclaimer
at the start of this video it is very hard to compile a list of the seven best climbers of all time. I’m sure we’ve left some
of your favourites out and if we have feel free to let us know in the comment section below. But it’s just very difficult to compare riders from different eras. That said we have GPS data now. In 50 years time we probably can compare all the riders for the next
50 years which would be nice. Alright if you like the style of this spanish-inspired sweatshirt
that I’m wearing right now you can pre-order them now over at There’s a link to that in the description just below this video and if you would like
to learn how to become a much better climb yourself you can learn from Emma Pooley! Her video is just down here.

100 comments on “Top 6 Climbers Of All Time | Road Cyclists Vs Mountains

  1. Leads with Pantani, and then 'takes Lance Armstrong out of the equation' for Froome. Come on, guys. You can't have it both ways.

  2. If Contador was switched in place of Froome it would be an acceptable list. Lance shouldn't be in the list for the same reason Froome shouldn't they are more all rounders than climbers.

  3. The pic in which you showed Bahamontes monument is wrong (4:22), that is Lucho Herrera monument in Fusagasuga, Herrera's hometown.

    By the way, I completely agree with your list!

  4. The fact that Dan actually knows of all these people makes his read SO much better than anyone else would have done. I think it's awesome how much he loves the nobility of cycling and honestly, I'm still new to the sport and I must say he, and GCN in general, are a reason I actually engaged with it. You guys made the history, the science, and maintenance manage-able. A few hundred comments in I doubt anyone even reads this from the network, but if you do, thank you all, with all my heart…cycling has improved every facet of my life and surpassed all previous hobbies by a significant magnitude and I owe a HUGE part of that to your content and videos.

  5. Speaking of Emma…
    Why is she no longer a presenter on GCN? If it was announced in a show I must have missed that episode. She was a great presenter on GCN and I thought the workout videos she made were some of the best for the content and explanations she provided.

  6. Somewhere in Colorado Lance Armstrong has smoke pouring out of his ears — or maybe the smoke is bursting from his lungs, it is Colorado after all.

  7. I was thinking about emma should be part of this list even if it was dominated by men, then magic happened and dan said Emma's name what a legend.

  8. Somehow the cyclists in the 70's and 80's are all assumed clean…when we all know Olympic teams worldwide were doping machines from the 60's to present. We all know Armstrong is a top 5 climber of all time. No doubt

  9. Hah i bet Emma absolutely loves you for this one, Dan! Seriously though, definitely miss her presence on the channel.

  10. I thought Tom Last was considered one of the greater climbers of his generation? with his incredible ability to suffer surely he has to be in this list.

  11. Lance has claimed to be the best climber of all time. He said it on the internet, so it must be true………..

  12. 10:23 I made a parody of ‘Spider Pig’ based on dans face: crazy dan, crazy dan, does whatever a crazy dan can, can he win a grand tour no he can’t he’s a dan, LOOKOUT IT’S CRAZY DAN

  13. Love that Emma is part of this amazing list of world class climbers! She definitely deserves to be there amongst all the men! Way to go #EmmaPooley! 👏👏👏👏

  14. The video is about the top climbers "OF ALL TIME" – WTF is Froome doing in there?! What about Van Impe or Coppi? Even Virenque or Contador would rank above Froome! Why is this British channel always so biased towards British riders?!

  15. guys… the statue you re showing at 4:19 belongs to Lucho Herrera, it´s in its home town Fusagasuga, Colombia.

  16. Using Strava Toolbox you can easily identify just how prolific Emma Pooley is as a climber. She owns 3,023 QOM's on Strava and if your curious that makes her the #1 climber on the platform. Yes that is 3,023 QOM titles across all categories of climbs.

    HC – 554
    Cat. 1 – 220
    Cat. 2 – 584
    Cat. 3 – 565
    Cat. 4 – 682
    Minor Climbs – 328
    Walls – 90

    She's my HEROINE!

  17. Come on GCN!! Lucien Petit-Breton was the first southamerican to win a Grand Tour. A national hero with argentine nationality. You can argue all you want..he started in our velodromes before going back to the old continent.

  18. I would like to add Richard Virenque to the list. Although from the era of doping he was a class rider winning the KOM in the TdF 7 times. I grew up watching him battling away in the mountains of France.

  19. Lance Armstrong is the best climber of all time! Too bad he is also getting so politically correct that he is trying to make PK points by promoting womens cycling. He knows the game and it is not about being sincere!

  20. The list is good but not the best, I miss Joop Zoetemelk or Jan Janzen or Jan raas I miss Andy sleck I mis Contador, meh idk it was a 6/10 I I had to rate the list

  21. froome…. really? top 6? dear me…
    everyone in the comments mentioning Contador is right to do so (amongst others). If you're talking about riders from the same time period and you leave out the guy who stormed up the Mortirolo a few years back absolutely crushing people along the way, i can't even take this list remotely seriously. i can't even name a single climb anywhere near that level from froome honestly and i'd dare anyone to do to. Contador has a bunch of these….you don't have to add contador at all, but if you add froome instead, you've gone off the rails.

  22. I was about to cry foul for not mentioning any great female climbers and then you mentioned THE GREATEST OF ALL TIME! Well done for mentioning our darling Emma.

  23. Pantani died of "Acute cocaine poisoning". The modern way to blame the drug for the death, instead of the man, by not saying he overdosed on cocaine, but that the drug was to blame. Not diminishing the man, just the way of slippery new speak.

  24. If you created this to stir controversy ( so many thinks it`s good for the sport, whatever the sport might be ) or to be abused and ridiculed, then you probably have done an excellent job. If you also think that people will take it with a pinch of salt, you are probably misunderstanding how things works on social media

  25. Are you seriously talking about climbers or just joking?
    They accused Pantani of doping many times, but he always came out clear. 
    They just wanted to stop him because he was too strong. 
    The fastest climber ever. 
    He rode l’alpe d’Huez in 37′ 35″ using an aluminium bike with aluminium wheels in 1997, and despite all this amazing new technology, no one has done better yet. 
    And… Froome? Team Sky, used to drag him on top of the mountains.

  26. GREAT CONTENT! Very enjoyable and worth while video. Fair due, after all these years, ye still can come out with some good stuff. Matt might be gone (Chris has been a fine replacement, pity Emma isn't around) , with Dan is picking up the baton like a boss

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