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Datalearning 2023: Best hill-specialists

Thursday 14 December 2023 • Stats

Ben Healy and Derek Gee provided a spectacle in the hills of Italy this year. After the eighth stage of the Giro, they stood together on the podium as stage winner and runner-up respectively. However, they cannot match the score of the best hill-specialist for the time being. Who will ever dethrone Tadej Pogačar?

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

In this article we look at the quality 'hill'. How did the riders perform in hilly races? Also check out our other articles, in which we specifically highlight the riders from the following categories:

  • Best riders
  • Climbers
  • Time trialists
  • Sprinters
  • Cobblestone specialists
  • Classification riders
  • One-day specialists

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

Big winners in 2023 - hill-specialists

The AI model calculates the indicator-score of the hill specialists at the beginning and end of 2023. This way you can see which rider has made the most progress last season. We can't ignore Ben Healy. The Irish champion finished second at this year's Amstel Gold Race, where Pogačar (1st) and Pidcock (3rd) completed the podium, and rode a fantastic Giro a month later. He achieved his first stage victory in a Grand Tour there at the age of 22. Due to his many attacks and successful escape attempts, Healy finished third in the battle for the mountain jersey. He is one of big improvers and among the best hill riders after 2023.

Most improved in 'Hill' in 2023
Rank Rider Increase Start 2023 End 2023
1 Ben Healy 43
48
91
2
Lennert Van Eetvelt
40
38
78
"
Pelayo Sanchez Mayo
40
33
73
4
Derek Gee
36
36
72
"
Marius Mayrhofer
36
31
67
6
Romain Grégoire
35
54
89
"
Matthew Dinham
35
45
80
"
Felix Engelhardt
35
41
76
"
Nico Denz
35
40
75
10
Amanuel Gebreigzabhier
33
42
75
"
Lenny Martinez
33
42
75
"
Ewen Costiou
33
32
65
13
Rui Costa
32
59
91
14
Riley Sheehan
31
25
56
15
Walter Calzoni
29
41
70
"
Davide Piganzoli
29
33
62
17
Kevin Vermaerke
28
45
73
"
Thibau Nys
28
40
68


Healy togehter with Rui Costa – who especially flourished in the Spanish hills last year and won both the Tour of Valencia and a stage in the Vuelta - has risen considerably to 91 points, putting the two in a row including Mas, Bilbao and Pidcock. Lennert Van Eetvelt has also had a great year. The Belgian won the Alpes Isère Tour and also showed himself from the front during the Vuelta.

Most points lost - hill specialists

We already concluded in previous articles that 2023 was not a successful year for Quintana, Fuglsang and Schachmann. Amaury Capiot suffered the misfortune of a knee injury, which meant he could not return to action until late in the summer of 2023.

Renners die de meeste punten verloren op 'Hill' in 2023
Renners die de meeste punten verloren op 'Hill' in 2023

The Colombian Miguel Ángel 'Supermán' López was also unable to match his good season in 2022 - in which he finished fourth in the Vuelta - mainly because, like Quintana, he was not under contract with a professional team. This year he won the Argentine Tour of San Juan as a continental rider and won 20 UCI races in total, but due to his switch from Astana to Team Medellín he no longer competed in European races.

Heuvelspecialisten na 2023

Who else than Tadej Pogačar is the best hill rider of the moment? He had a golden spring with successive victories in the Tour of Flanders, the Amstel Gold Race and the Flèche Wallonne. Due to his crash in Liège-Bastogne-Liège, it was still exciting whether his wrist would be recovered in time for the Tour de France, but he immediately competed for the podium places in the first Basque hilly days. The Slovenian ended 2023 with a win in the Giro di Lombardia.

Heuvelspecialisten na 2023
Heuvelspecialisten van 2023

Not Evenepoel, but Pogačar's teammate Hirschi takes away the silver. The Swiss champion won the Tour of Hungary, Luxembourg and a number of Italian autumn races and also performed well in 2022 in the hilly Italian autumn. Danish champion Skjelmose will not come unnoticed to secure his place in the top 10. He came very close to winning the Flèche Wallonne, then won the Tour de Suisse, and provided plenty of spectacle during the Tour de France, where he ultimately had to ride for Ciccone's mountain jersey - with success. What does 2024 have in store for this (still young) hill specialist?

Skjelmose specialiseert zich!
Skjelmose specialiseert zich!

Also Ion Izagirre, who falls just outside the top 10 hill specialists, looks back on a great season, with another podium place in the Tour of 'his' Basque Country and a stage win in the Tour de France from a successful break.


Contact

The countdown to 2024 has begun. The transfers and preparations are in full swing. Who are you keeping an eye on next season? 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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