In recent years, the men’s WorldTour peloton has seen a large increase in the number of riders capable of targeting a combination of major one-day races, week-long stage races and Grand Tours.
As this new breed of all-rounders has emerged - two of the best examples being Tadej Pogačar and Remco Evenepoel - it might now seem rare that one of the biggest names, reigning Tour de France champion Jonas Vingegaard, appears content to forgo the Classics.
That phenomenon shows no sign of letting up either during the 2024 season. As riders' preliminary programmes have trickled through from team camps and presentation days, news came out that Evenepoel and Pogačar will make both their Tour de France and Giro d’Italia debuts respectively.
On top of those major goals, the two riders have also included the likes of the Amstel Gold race, Liège–Bastogne–Liège and Strade Bianche in their programmes for the year ahead. Both have a host of Monument and one-day victories between them, and are set to go back for more this spring.
That willingness to compete on all fronts, all year round, has seen a real boom in popularity of the likes of Evenepoel and Pogačar. They seemingly can’t fail whenever they appear on the start line as even if the result doesn’t materialise, they’re universally commended just for being there and racing in the first place.
Meanwhile, fans on social media have labelled Vingegaard as 'boring' or 'uninteresting', seemingly for not chancing his arm in the hills of the Ardennes or Lombardy on a regular basis.
Looking at his 2024 programme, the Danish rider has just a single one-day event planned, the road race at the World Championships in Zürich, and even that is provisional.
You could argue that it would be in his favour to race more hilly one-day events. The 27-year-old is explosive when the road goes uphill - take his attack on the Col de Marie-Blanque during last year’s Tour as an example - which could well see him thrive in those surroundings.
Still, Vingegaard's results when he has participated tell a different story. 16th in Il Lombardia in 2022 as well as a DNF in Liège, 14th in Lombardia the year before as well as 28th in Liège.
It’s worth noting that he did in fact beat the likes of Julian Alaphilippe to victory in the 2022 La Drôme Classic, and finished eighth at the 2021 Clásica San Sebastián. Although both of those races lack the same prestige that a win in the Ardennes in the spring, for instance, would provide.
The reality is that lining up and participating at an array of one-day races during the season serves little purpose for pure Grand Tour specialists such as Vingegaard.
It's no new phenomenon, either. Take Chris Froome as an example. During his most successful years, Froome would steer clear from major one-day races as he built for the Tour in the summer.
The Brit's trophy cabinet proves his strategy worked well; his collection counts four Tour de France titles, two Vueltas a España and a Giro d'Italia.
Interestingly, Vingegaard has already placed higher in a Monument than Froome has ever managed to achieve. Froome has ridden Liège–Bastogne–Liège seven times to date, with his best-ever finish being a lowly 36th place. He’s also only ever ridden Il Lombardia once in 2021, but climbed off his bike and didn’t make the finish in Bergamo.
The risk factor that comes with a busy one-day calendar is arguably the main reason for stripping it back.
One small crash - like Tadej Pogačar’s at Liège last year - and a rider's ability to perform in July is thrown into serious doubt. Pogačar came out of that crash with a broken wrist and that hampered preparation as well as performance when the Tour came around.
Vingegaard’s run-in to the Tour last year was pretty much flawless with three stage race victories from four helping him build momentum for when the main event came around. Crashing is part and parcel of the sport, but the risks seem somewhat amplified in the fast and frenetic Classics compared to elsewhere.
Therefore, while it may seem boring or underwhelming, skipping the one-day scene makes sense for riders of his style.
Reading through Vingegaard’s proposed programme may not set off the same buzz of adrenaline that the likes of Pogačar's or Evenepoel’s provides, although it's really nothing new.
In 20-30 years' time whether Vingegaard did or didn’t pick up a victory in Liege, Il Lombardia or another major one day race will likely seem irrelevant. His palmarès, like Froome’s, will speak for itself.
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