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Who Are the Top One-Day Contenders Heading Into 2023?

Breaking down where each major Monument contender stands

2023 Rider Tiers Part 2: Breaking down where each major Monument contender stands as we approach the 2023 season. As the start date for the 2023 season continues to march closer, we will continue to take stock of who the sport’s elite riders are at each major discipline (grand tours, one-classics & stage winning) heading into 2023 to give us a clearer view of what to expect when these major events roll around.

# You can read about Who Are The Top Grand Tour Contenders Heading Into 2023? HERE. #

– This article is an excerpt from the Beyond the Peloton newsletter. Sign up here for full access. –

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Ranking The Top 2023 One-Day Contenders
To build off last week’s tiering of the top 2023 Grand Tour contenders, this week we are separating the top one-day Monument* contenders into five tiers. To delineate them into tiers, I am taking into account 1) top three results in World-Tour-level one-day races over the past four seasons, with results generated recently given more emphasis, 2) their age, and, most importantly 3) their likelihood to generate results (wins) in WorldTour-level one-day races the 2023 season.
*’Monuments’ refer to a series of races that comprise the five most important one-day races on the calendar. Read more here.

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To be frank, I found this task much more difficult than last week’s grand tour contenders since there are both a greater number of major one-day races than grand tours and riders who could potentially win them in 2023 than those who can win grand tours. To keep this rundown from becoming simply a useless list of pretty good one-day riders, I have attempted to narrow it down to riders who have either won one-day monuments in the last four seasons, racked up multiple top-three finishes at major one-day races, or stand a good chance of entering a major 2023 classic as a major favorite.

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Why This Is Helpful

As I outlined last week, the purpose of this exercise is to attempt to objectively cut through the noise and see who the best riders in each discipline are. This is especially important in the modern landscape since there is an odd inversion where the less a rider produces, the more media coverage they receive.

The Criteria

While there is a nearly endless array of both established and emerging one-day talents, to qualify for the top four tiers, a rider must have either won a Monument, or World Championship road race, in the past four seasons or landed on a Monument podium within the past year. While some of these younger riders, like Magnus Sheffield, Quinn Simmons, and Florian Vermeersch, may go on to win multiple major one-day races, winning Monuments, for everyone outside of the sport’s most talented riders, generally takes years of experience. In fact, one thing that surprised me during the creation of these tiers is just how much older the lower tiers are in the one-day vs the grand tours, which tells us that while the younger generation appears to be taking over grand tours for the foreseeable future, at least for the time being, riders in their mid-to-late 20s appear to be remaining the dominant riders in the classics.

Below, each rider is listed in their BTP designated tier along with the age and team they will be racing at in 2023:

The Tiers:

Tier 1:
Reserved for riders who have proven an ability to win the sport’s biggest one-day races against the sport’s best competition in recent years and have the ability to do so in 2023. This is obviously an incredibly elite group made up of riders who have the rare combination of elite talent and recent real-world results to back that talent up.

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Pogačar – Il Lombardia

Tadej Pogačar (24)

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Van Aert – Wevelgem

Wout van Aert (28)

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Van der Poel – Roubaix

Mathieu van der Poel (28)

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Evenepoel – San Sebastián

Remco Evenepoel (23)

Tier 2:
Riders who have both won in the past, and could win in 2023, major one-day Monuments, and other World Tour one-day races. These riders will be considered serious potential winners across the one-days in 2023 if they are on the start list.

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Alaphilippe – Flanders

Julian Alaphilippe (30)

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Asgreen – Flanders

Kasper Asgreen (28)

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Van Baarle – Roubaix

Dylan van Baarle (30)

Tier 3:
Riders who are able to win, but not be the outright favorite, at the main Monuments this coming season, but could very likely pick off a win at other major one-day races in 2023.

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Pidcock – Flanders

Tom Pidcock (23)

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Girmay – Wevelgem

Biniam Girmay (22)

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Laporte – Flanders

Christophe Laporte (30)

Tier 4:
These riders have an outside chance of winning and a good chance at podium finishes at non-Monument one-day races in 2023. Due to the chaotic nature of one-day racing, if things go their way, any of them could win even the biggest races, but their varying places on the age/experience curve, talents, teams, and riding styles make them far less prolific winners. For example, while Matej Mohorič has proven he can win the biggest races, the finale has to unfold in a certain way due to his lack of a sprint finish and while Mads Pedersen has emerged as one of the elite stage hunters, still hasn’t been able to leverage that talent into consistent top one-day results.

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Mohorič – Sanremo

Matej Mohorič (28)

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Stuyven – Het Nieuwsblad

Jasper Stuyven (30)

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Pedersen – Kuurne

Mads Pedersen (27)

Tier 5:
A collection of the sport’s top one-day talents who either lack a Monument win in the last four seasons or, in the case of Alberto Bettiol, have failed to prove an ability to consistently replicate race-winning performances at the biggest races.

Michael Matthews (32)

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Matthews – Quebec

Quinten Hermans (27)

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Hermans – Liège

Michał Kwiatkowski (32)

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Kwiatkowski – Amstel

Anthony Turgis (28)

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Turgis – E3 Harelbeke

Alberto Bettiol (29)

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Bettiol – Flanders

Five Key Takeaways

    1. Combined with last week’s GC tiers, the biggest thing that jumps off the page is the sheer depth and volume of Tadej Pogačar’s dominance of the sport. His day job is as a Tour de France overall contender but he still has more Monument wins than anyone else on this list and has as many as Wout van Aert and Mathieu van der Poel combined, despite being four years younger. Being in the 1st tier of both GC and one-day racers is an extraordinary achievement that I frankly didn’t think was possible in the modern era.
    2. But the fact that this phenomenon isn’t isolated to just Pogačar is even more surprising. While he hasn’t quite hit the same heights as Pogačar at the moment, Remco Evenepeol, who emerged as one of the sport’s top GC contenders in 2022, is also a tier 1 one-day rider due to his Monument and World Championship wins in 2022 (along with never having finished on a lower podium position than 1st in a WorldTour one-day race).
    3. Select team breakdown:
    Jumbo-Visma: 1xTier, 1xTier 2, 1xTier 3
    QuickStep: 1xTier 1, 2xTier 2
    Alpecin: 1xTier 1, 1xTier 5
    Ineos: 1xTier 3, 1xTier 5
    Trek: 2xTier 4

    • Once again, we see just how strong Jumbo-Visma, who led the pack in GC tiers and has a rider in the top three tiers in the one-day rankings, has become in the past few off-seasons.
    • We also see just how far Ineos, who doesn’t have a rider above the 3rd tier in either the GC or one-day rankings, has fallen due to a significant multi-season talent drain.
    • QuickStep, due to the presence of Evenepoel, has been able to retain their standing as a top tier one-day even as their presence in the cobbled classics, the races that used to define them as a team, has been significantly diminished in recent seasons.

    4. The depth of talent amongst riders who can target, and win, one-day races is incredibly (perhaps even historically so) deep. For example, while the top tier of riders on this list are all historically great riders, it wouldn’t be completely shocking if all five monuments in 2023 were all won by riders not included in this tier.
    5. Even more impressive than the sheer number of quality one-day riders is that nearly every top contender is capable of challenging across a wider range of races. For example, it isn’t absurd to imagine every rider in the top tier winning every Monument throughout their career, but even below that, riders like Julian Alaphilippe and Tom Pidcock have the ability to win across both the cobbled and Ardennes classics. This ability used to be reserved for only a handful of riders per generation but has now almost been raised to simple table stakes for the top one-day riders. This speaks to the ever-increasing rate of de-specialization in the sport and shows it has never been a better time to be a fan of the sport.

Stay tuned next week for the breakdown of the sprinting/stage-hunting tiers heading into 2023…

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Bring on the Classics

# Spencer Martin is the author of the cycling-analysis newsletter Beyond the Peloton that breaks down the nuances of each race and answers big picture questions surrounding team and rider performance. Sign up now to get full access to all the available content and race breakdowns. #

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