2021 has been a cycling season with several impressive performances. The explosion of Mathieu van der Poel in Strade Bianche, the GrandTour-Monument double of Pogacar and the Tour de France trilogy of Wout van Aert. Many stories can be told at an individual level, but what if we take a broader view? What race had the youngest top-10? And which race turned out to be most difficult to finish? These and several other questions will be answered in a series of articles on the 2021 male cycling season. While nationality-performances were presented in the previous article, stats on the 2021-races will be presented in this final article.
1. Age and weight of top-contenders
The top-10 in the GC of the Tour de Wallonie was the youngest top-10 in 2021: 24 years and 17 days on average. The 9 youngsters under contract of a UWT- or PCT team were younger than any other race top-10. Sean Quinn (21 during the race) was not part of the calculation because he raced at continental level (Axeon Hermans) this season. Stage 3 of the Deutschland had the olderst top-10 of the season. Experienced sprinters like Cavendish, Degenkolb, Greipel and Kristoff all finished top-10 which resulted in a relatively old top-10. The Heylen Vastgoed Heistse Pijl had the heaviest top-10 finishers. The top-10 one-day race won by Jens Debusschere was on average 77 kg. The top-10 of the mountain-stage of Adriatica Ionica (s2) was the lightest top-10 of 2021. Good old Davide Rebellin was part of that top-10 but not included in the average because he raced at continental level.
At UWT-level, the top-10 in the GC of Tour de Suisse was oldest, just before stage-4 of the Volta a Catalunya. Among the races with youngest top-10 finishers were many .1 or .Pro races, traditionally races in which talents have the opportunity to show themselves.
The 2021 Tour de France had the oldest startlist, stage 15 being the stage with the highest average age. Cyclists need to be most experienced to be eligible for starting in le Tour apparantly. Stage 2 of the Settimana Coppi e Bartali had the youngest participants being 25,5 years of age on average.
Quite some Individual Time-Trials are on top of the most heavy top-10’s in 2021. It’s not a secret that specialists in the ITT’s are on average more heavy. At UWT-level Paris Roubaix is the one-day race that had the heaviest top-10 (almost 76kg). The top-1o fot Itzulia Basque Country was the lightest top-10 at UWT-level.
Participants were on average heaviest at the unofficial World Championships of sprinting: the Scheldeprijs, just a little heaver than the startlist in the Hell of the North and Tour of Flanders. The General Classification of the Vuelta Asturias was the lightest professional race of 2021.
At WorldTour-level, top-10 finishers in the GC were almost 29 years of age on average, less than a kilogram lighter than the weight of the entire startlist. While the top-10 was quite a lot older in Tour de Suisse, it was relatively young in Paris-Nice. Among the GrandTours, la Vuelta Espana had the oldest top-10 (30,5), the Giro the youngest (27,5)
Top-10 finishers at UWT-level are 4kg lighter than all finishers together. The Benelux Tour was by far the race with the heaviest GC-finishers and top-10. While all other races have a at least one mountain-stage, all stages in the lowlands are designed for classic-specialists. The top-10 of Itzulia Basque Country was remarkably light (under 60kg on average).
In one-day races at UWT-level the top-10 was oldest in Dwars door Vlaanderen, somewhat older than in La Fleche Wallone and Il Lombardia. Klasikoa San Sebastian had the youngest top-10, while the startlist of the Oxyclean Classic was even younger. The average top-10 finishers at UWT-level were a couple of months older than the startlist.
Looking at weight, Paris-Roubaix was made for the heavy guys, the top-10 was almost 76kg on average. In contrast, the top-10 of La Fleche Wallone was ligthest (61kg), not a surprise with the steep finish at the Mur du Huy. Il Lombardia was the monument with most vertical ascension meters and also the youngest startlist and – top-10.
2. Races with most cyclists not finishing
Not everyone finishes every race and there is a big difference in the share of finishers between races. At Tre Valli Varesine most cyclists failed to complete the race of all professional races in 2021, probably due to the long and a hard final (first attack by Pogacar at 120km from the finish) and wet conditions. Only 27% reached the finish line in the Italian autumn-classic. The GP d’Isbergues had only 1 DNF, fewest of all races. On average 73% of all participants reached the finish past season.
At WorldTour-level, the World Championships in Leuven was the one-day race with the lowest share of finishers (42%). San Sebastian and Gent-Wevelgem were hard to finish as well, but still in those races the share of finishers was 15 percentpoints higher. Considering the 20 cyclists finishing OTL (Out of Time Limit) as well, Paris Roubaix becomes second-hardest race to finish behind the World Championships. While being the longest day in the saddle of the season, the share of finishers was highest of all one-day races in Milano SanRemo. Only 3 cyclists (Bais, Swift and Savini) did not finish La Primavera on the Via Roma on March 20th.
In addition to the one-day races, two stages are worth mentioning regarding share of finishers. Itzulia Basque Country stage 6 and Benelux Tour stage 7 were by far the stages this season with most riders quitting: around 30% of all participants those days did not finish the stage.
In 2021, the average speed of the winner in the monuments was 41,6 kph, SanRemo being the fastests (45.06 kph) editions since 2006 and LBL being the slowest of the season at an average of 39 kph. In the past seasons Paris-Roubaix was somewhat faster than Milano-Sanremo. Roubaix was in bad and muddy circumstances the slowest editions since 2014 when Niki Terpstra won.
Since 2000, the average speed (measured as the 3-year moving average) in monuments has increased from around 40 to almost 42 kilometers per hour. Due to changes in routes and varying weather conditions, it is difficult to make a correct and fair comparison. In the future we might take a look at the development of speed of the no.10 and no.20 in the monuments.
This was the sixth and final article of a series on the 2021 cycling season. Thank you for reading. If you have any remarks or questions, please contact us at email@example.com, or leave a remark on Twitter or Instagram.