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Datalearning 2023: Best climbers

Thursday 14 December 2023 • Stats

In 2023 we said goodbye to Pinot, who ended his career after a successful season. At the same time a new generation of strong climbers emerges. The leader of this generation is arguably Cian Uijtdebroeks. Best climbers at the end of 2023 are the same riders as a year ago. They are followed closely by the best domestique in the world: Sepp Kuss.

In this article, team CyclingOracle looks back on the 2023 cycling season, using our well-known (and improved!) AI-model. Which riders have improved most in climbing? Who has not been able to live up to expectations? And which ten riders are the best climbers after 2023? 

In this article we look at the climbing specialty. How did the riders improve their climbing skill? Also check out our other articles, in which we specifically highlight the riders from the following categories:

Curious about how our improved AI model works? In this article we will take you through our considerations and adjustments.

Biggest risers in 2023

The AI model calculates the quality value of the riders at the beginning and end of 2023. This way you can see which rider has improved the most last season. It is without any doubt Derek Gee. In the Giro he showed what he is worth by making daring attacks and often being in the breakaway-group of the day. It didn't give him a stage victory yet, but who knows what 2024 has in store for the Canadian. He will undoubtedly focus on the mountain jersey again, which he missed out on last spring. Gee also came in as the second biggest gainer on the 'GC' indicator.

Meest verbeterde klimmers in 2023
Most improved climbers in 2023


Felix Gall is another big improver. With his jump from 50 to 90 points, he now equals big names such as Geraint Thomas and Aleksandr Vlasov when it comes to climbing qualities. The climbing goat from Austria rode the Tour of his life in 2023. In a strong (young) field of participants, he managed to finish third in the youth classification, second in the mountains classification and also eighth in the general classification. In 2024, like Pogačar, he will no longer compete for the white, but perhaps he can cause another stunt in the general classification? Although it is more likely that he will make another bid for the mountain jersey.

Young talents like PooleUijtdebroeks and Lenny Martinez are expected to continue their rate of improvement in 2024. All three made their debut this year in a Grand Tour (Vuelta) and Uijtdebroeks in particular performed exceptionally well and consistently for a rider who was only twenty years old. Another talent to slowly keep an eye on is the American Riccitello. The Giro was his first Grand Tour of his career. During the nerve-wracking time trial with a steep climb, where Roglic took the pink from Thomas at the last possible moment, Riccitello simply finished eleventh, ahead of Laurens de Plus.

GC revelatie Uijtdebroeks klimt goed
GC revelatie Uijtdebroeks klimt goed

De Plus, in turn, also showed a nice increase this year, by showing consistent form during the Giro, despite his role as a servant for Thomas, which earned him a nice tenth place in the general classification. Another notable climber is Rubio, who, like Gall, joins the list of '90 points climbers'. He took his first stage victory in a Grand Tour (Giro) in 2023 and we expect him to win the next one in 2024.

Biggest drops in 2023 - climbers

The fastest descending climbers. In other words: which climbers have deteriorated the most in their performance in 2023? We had already mentioned him in the overview of the most fallen riders of 2023: Jakob Fuglsang. Samen met Masnada voert hij deze lijst aan. Together with Masnada he tops this list. While Masnada finished second in the GC of the Tour of Oman last year, this year he was mainly allowed to do manual work, which meant that similar results were not achieved.

Masnada verloor veel klimpunten in 2023
Masnada lost many climbing points in 2023

Leemreize's decline can be explained by his good Giro performances in 2022, where he did not appear at the start this year. Kruijswijk was also not allowed to compete in a Grand Tour for Jumbo-Visma this year, after his contribution to Vingegaard's yellow jersey in 2022.

Top 10 best climbers

Pogačar maintained his high level of the end of 2022, but is no longer the best climber of the world. Vingegaard and Roglič are better according to our AI-model. Jonas Vingegaard is the best climber after 2023.

Best climbers after 2023
Rank Rider Start 2023 End 2023 Change
1 Jonas Vingegaard 93 98 +5
2 Primoz Roglic 93 97 +4
3
Tadej Pogacar
95
95
0
"
Sepp Kuss
91
95
+4
5
Joao Almeida
92
93
+1
"
Adam Yates
91
93
+2
"
Remco Evenepoel
90
93
+3
8
Enric Mas
93
91
-2
"
Jai Hindley
91
91
0
"
Romain Bardet
91
91
0
"
Mikel Landa
89
91
+2
"
Damiano Caruso
89
91
+2
"
Thibaut Pinot
89
91
+2


Vingegaard has proven to be the best climber of the moment. Even after a bizarre Tour de France (1st), he still had the legs to ride in the Spanish mountains to two stage victories and a second place in the GC and mountains classification of the Vuelta. Earlier this year, the Dane was already on the podium in Paris-Nice (3rd), the Tour of the Basque Country (1st) and Critérium du Dauphiné (1st). A great season. His (now former) teammate Roglič is also in excellent form. During the Giro he managed to peak at the right time. Despite his chain falling off in the individual time trial on day 20, he was more than half a minute faster than direct competitor Geraint Thomas, which was just enough to cross the line in Rome with the pink jersey. In the eighth stage of the Vuelta - when Kuss took the red - he took the day's victory and in the seventeenth stage the Slovenian was also the strongest uphill, with only Vingegaard on his wheel, leaving the Kuss fairy tale in doubt again for a while.

The fairytale that the majority of cycling fans hoped for became reality: Kuss won the Vuelta in 2023. And where the big GC-men ride a maximum of two Grand Tours in a year, the super servant of Jumbo-Visma simply smashes the mountains in all three rounds on. During the Giro (14th), Kuss was absolutely indispensable for Roglič, during the Tour he continued his excellent form, and in Spain, after his third stage victory in a Grand Tour in his career, he was given the freedom to pursue his own opportunities.

Almeida and Adam Yates, together with Evenepoel, are 'the best of the rest'. Almeida won the youth classification in the Giro and finished third in the general classification. Earlier in the season he finished first in the youth classification and second in the general classification of Tirreno-Adriatico. The Portuguese will no longer compete for the white jersey in 2024 and will therefore be extra keen on final victory. Adam Yates won the Tour de Romandie in 2023. Yates won the opening stage of the Tour de France in Bilbao, after which he was allowed to wear the yellow jersey for three stages, and eventually even stood on the podium in Paris with Vingegaard and Pogačar.

Mas verloor een paar punten op 'Klimmen'.
Mas verloor een paar punten op 'Klimmen'.

Evenepoel had his sights set on pink, but was unfortunately forced to leave the Giro in the second week after a positive corona test. During the Vuelta, he lost too much time compared to his competitors on the ride to the top of the Col du Tourmalet to be able to dream about the red, but came back strong the next day by winning the stage. He did this again in the 18th stage, and in Madrid Evenepoel crossed the finish line 'as consolation' with the polka dot jersey. In 2024, the time trial world champion will be looking for revenge. Enric Mas also has something to make up for in 2024, after 2022 the Spaniard was still the second best climber in the peloton, but he lost a few points due to dropping out in the Tour de France and a slightly disappointing Vuelta.

Contact

The countdown to 2024 has begun. The transfers and preparations are in full swing. Which pocket-climber will you pay special attention to in 2024? Let us know through a DM at Instagram. If you have any questions or suggestions: feel free to connect. You can send us an e-mail at [email protected].

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