Cycling Monuments Statistics: All, Monuments Compared (2021)

Cycling Monuments Statistics © A.S.O. / Pauline Ballet

I gathered data from all five cycling Monuments and created unique statistics and charts to see how these classics developed over time.

In this article, you will see the comparisons of distances, winning times, average speeds, as well as winners’ heights, weights, BMIs, and more.

If you are interested in a specific Monument only, you can also check out my separate articles:

Abbreviations used: MSR – Milan–San Remo, ToF – Tour of Flanders, PR – Paris–Roubaix, LBL – Liège-Bastogne-Liège, GdL – Giro di Lombardia, BMI – Body Mass Index

I used publicly available data from bikeraceinfo.com, wikipedia.org, procyclingstats.com, and the official websites of all Monuments as data sources.

Please, also keep in mind the following:

  • Milan–San Remo did not take place in 1916, 1944, and 1945.
  • Tour of Flanders did not take place between 1914-1918.
  • Paris–Roubaix did not take place between 1915-1918, 1940-1942, and in 2020.
  • Liège-Bastogne-Liège did not take place between 1895-1907, in 1910, 1914-1918, 1940-1942, and in 1944.
  • Giro di Lombardia did not take place in 1943 and 1944.
  • The actual rider’s racing weight could vary.
  • The heights and weight data are not available for all riders.

I update this article once a year once all Monuments are finished.


Distance, Time, and Average Speed of Monuments

Let’s look at the ‘basic’ metrics such as the distance, time, and average speeds of all Monuments.

Distance

The general rule of thumb is that until 1950, the distance of most Monuments except for Milan–San Remo varied a lot.

Milan–San Remo is a monument with the most consistent route distance which averages 288 km. The biggest change came in 2013 because the route had to be shortened to 249 km due to bad weather.

Tour of Flanders experienced a steep downward trend in route distance. After the first 324 km edition in 1913, organizers shortened it to 280 km. The third edition was only 230 km long. It took the organizers about 30 years to set a more or less consistent race length. In recent decades, it averaged around 260 km.

Paris–Roubaix is the second most consistent Monument. Its distance did not change much except for the editions between 1925-1955. These were about 10 km shorter on average than the other editions.

Liège-Bastogne-Liège experienced a similar trend as the Tour of Flanders. The race was getting shorter on average up to 1946. After this year, the average distance increased. The last 20 years or so remain relatively consistent.

The Giro di Lombardia route is another story. It seems like organizers couldn’t decide whether they want a long or short race. The race distance was inconsistent except for the 1964-1975 period when the distance was the same (266 km).

Cycling Monuments - Total Distance
Cycling Monuments – Total Distance

The average length of a Monument is 258 km.

NOTE: The average length of a Grand Tour stage, including time trials, is around 200 km (source).

The longest Monument on average is Milan–San Remo. The average distance of all editions is 288 km.

The shortest Monument on average is Giro di Lombardia. The average distance of all editions is 243 km.

The shortest Monument edition was the 1942 Giro di Lombardia. This edition was only 184 km long.

The longest Monument edition was the 1913 Tour of Flanders. This edition was only 324 km long.

Monuments Distance - Average Distance, Shortest and Longest Editions
Monuments Distance – Average Distance, Shortest and Longest Editions

Winning Time

Winning times of all Monuments follow the same trend. Before the Second World War, they were in the range of about 7 to 11 hours (except for a few editions that were faster or slower). This was, among other things, caused by the variability of Monuments lengths described above.

After the Second World War, we can observe a significant reduction in the variance of winning times. These range from approx. 5h 30′ to 7h 45′.

Cycling Monuments - Winning Time
Cycling Monuments – Winning Time

The average winning time of all Monument editions is 7h 09′ 02″.

The fastest Monument winning times on average 6h 50′ 17″ are reached on the Tour of Flanders.

The slowest Monument winning times on average 7h 50′ 09″ are reached on Milan–San Remo.

The fastest Monument winning time was 5h 06′ 03″. This was the Giro di Lombardia which took place in 1942, and it was 184 km long.

The slowest Monument winning time was 12h 44′ 09″. This was the Milan–San Remo which took place in 1917, and it was 286.5 km long.

Monuments Winning Time - Average, Shortest and Longest Winning Times
Monuments Winning Time – Average, Shortest and Longest Winning Times

Average Speed

The average speed chart almost looks like an inverted winning times chart. The average speeds started to steeply rise around the year 1925. They increased from about 28 km/h until 1925 to around 35 km/h until 1950. In the following decades (and especially in the past 20 years), they exceeded the mighty 40 km/h.

Interestingly, the average speeds of Monuments Milan–San Remo and Tour of Flanders regularly exceeded the 40 km/h mark around the year 1960 already. This fact is very impressive considering the equipment the riders had.

Cycling Monuments - Average Speed
Cycling Monuments – Average Speed

The average speed of all Monuments is 36.82 km/h.

NOTE: The average speed of all Grand Tours is around 35.3 km/h (source).

The fastest Monument is Milan–San Remo. The average speed of all editions is 37.93 km/h.

The slowest Monument is Liège-Bastogne-Liège. The average speed of all editions is 35.46 km/h.

The slowest Monument edition took place in 1917. The winner of this Milan–San Remo edition averaged 22.50 km/h for 286.5 km.

The fastest Monument edition took place in 1990. The winner of this Milan–San Remo edition averaged 45.81 km/h for 294 km.

Monuments Speed - Average Speed, Slowest and Fastest Editions
Monuments Speed – Average Speed, Slowest and Fastest Editions

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Height, Weight, and BMI of the Monuments Winners

The height, weight, and BMI data are possibly the most insightful from all statistics in this article.

Although the data for riders before World War II are often unavailable, the heights and weights of winners from past decades provided enough data to visualize the trends.

Let’s dive in.

Height of the Winners

It is interesting to see that the winners of Paris–Roubaix are getting taller on average, but Giro di Lombardia winners are getting shorter.

There can be several explanations for this. While Paris-Roubaix is mostly flat, so it fits taller and stronger riders, the Giro di Lombardia is hilly and favors climbers. However, another explanation could be the increased average height in the population (learn more here).

Winners are getting taller on other Monuments too, not only on Paris–Roubaix. See the chart below.

Cycling Monuments - Winners Height
Cycling Monuments – Winners Height

The average height of a Monument winner is 1.78 kg.

NOTE: The average height of all Grand Tour winners is around 1.77 m (source).

The lowest average height of a Monument winner is 1.76 m. The shortest monument winners are the winners of Liège-Bastogne-Liège.

The highest average height of a Monument winner is 1.81 m. The tallest monument winners are the winners of the Tour of Flanders.

The shortest Monument winner ever was Maurice Garin (PR 1897 and 1898). He was 1.62 m tall.

The tallest Monument winner ever was Johan Van Summeren (PR 2021). He is 1.97 m tall.

Average Height, Shortest and Tallest Monuments Winners
Average Height, Shortest and Tallest Monuments Winners


Weight of the Winners

The weight chart shows that Paris–Roubaix winners are getting heavier on average. The heaviest rider who won a Monument was Magnus Bäckstedt, weighing 94 kg. He was an exception because most PR and ToF winners weighed between 70 and 80 kg.

On the other hand, riders weighing 60-70 kg have the highest probability of winning Liège-Bastogne-Liège or Giro di Lombardia.

Winners of Milan–San Remo have more diverse characteristics. The trend shows that their average weight remains more or less the same. However, it fluctuated between 58 and 83 kg almost every year.

Cycling Monuments - Winners Weight
Cycling Monuments – Winners Weight

The average weight of a Monument winner is 70.7 kg.

NOTE: The average weight of all Grand Tour winners is around 65 kg (source).

The lowest average weight of a Monument winner is 67 kg. The lightest monument winners are the winners of Liège-Bastogne-Liège.

The highest average weight of a Monument winner is 74.7 kg. The heaviest monument winners are the winners of Paris–Roubaix.

The lightest Monument winner ever was Esteban Chaves. He won the 2016 Giro di Lombardia, weighing just 55 kg.

The heaviest Monument winner ever was Magnus Bäckstedt. He won the 2004 Paris–Roubaix, weighing 94 kg.

Average Weight, Lightest and Heaviest Monuments Winners
Average Weight, Lightest and Heaviest Monuments Winners

BMI of the Winners

The BMI chart and trend is the most interesting and unique part of this article. As a reminder, here is an explanation of BMI:

NOTE: BMI (Body Mass Index) uses your height and weight to work out if your weight is healthy. (Source)

You can interpret the BMI values using the following key:

  • Below 18.5 – underweight,
  • 18.5-24.9 – normal,
  • 25.0-29.9 – overweight,
  • 30.0 and above – obese.

Yes, BMI has its limitations because it doesn’t take into account body composition. But, as you will see below, it reflects reality to a certain extent.

The BMI of winners from all Monuments is getting lower on average. The following chart shows the trends clearly.

NOTE: The BMI of Grand Tour winners also declines. Learn more.

The fastest declining trend is visible among Liège-Bastogne-Liège and Giro di Lombardia winners. It is no surprise because these two Monuments are hilly and highly demanding. Riders have to climb around 4000m, so these races favor climbers.

On the other hand, classicists have a better chance to win Milan–San Remo, Tour of Flanders, or Paris–Roubaix because these races don’t have as demanding profiles.

Cycling Monuments - Winners BMI
Cycling Monuments – Winners BMI

The average BMI of all Monument winners is 22.3.

NOTE: The average BMI of all Grand Tour winners is around 21.63 (source).

The winners of Liège-Bastogne-Liège have the lowest average BMI of all Monuments (21.06).

The winners of Paris–Roubaix have the highest average BMI of all Monuments (23.07).

The Monument winner with the lowest BMI ever was Bauke Mollema. He won the 2019 Giro Di Lombardia with a BMI of 19.12 (1.83 m, 64 kg).

The Monument winner with the highest BMI ever was François Faber. He won the 1908 Giro di Lombardia and 1913 Paris–Roubaix with a BMI of 27.79 (1.78 m, 88 kg). Yes, he was overweight.

Average, Lowest, and Highest BMI of Monuments Winners
Average, Lowest, and Highest BMI of Monuments Winners

Compare yourself with pro riders. Calculate your BMI using the calculator below.

BMI CALCULATOR

System:

Weight: kg

Height: cm




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Monuments Victories

The 1st successful Monument rider is Eddy Merckx. He won 19 Monuments (7× Milan–San Remo, 2× Tour of Flanders, 3× Paris–Roubaix, 5× Liège-Bastogne-Liège, and 2× Giro di Lombardia).

The 2nd most successful Monument rider is Roger De Vlaeminck. He won 11 Monuments (3× Milan–San Remo, 1× Tour of Flanders, 4× Paris–Roubaix, 1× Liège-Bastogne-Liège, and 2× Giro di Lombardia).

The 3rd most successful Monument rider is Sean Kelly. He won 9 Monuments (2× Milan–San Remo, 2× Paris–Roubaix, 2× Liège-Bastogne-Liège, and 3× Giro di Lombardia).

NOTE: Eddy Merckx, Roger De Vlaeminck, and Rik Van Looy are the only three riders who won all Monuments at least once.

Riders with the Most Monument Wins
Riders with the Most Monument Wins

The 1st most successful country is Belgium (219 Monument wins).

The 2nd most successful country is Italy (157 Monument wins).

The 3rd most successful country is France (62 Monument wins).

Cycling Monuments - Countries with the Most Victories
Cycling Monuments – Countries with the Most Victories

Italy has more than twice as many wins as 2nd-place Belgium and three times more than 3rd-place France.


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Summary

The following Monuments’ stats are my favorite:

  • The winning times of all Monuments before World War II ranged from about 7 to 11 hours. After WWII, they shortened to around 5h 30′ – 7h 45′.
  • The average speeds started to steeply rise around the year 1925. They increased from about 28 km/h until 1925 to around 35 km/h until 1950. In the following decades (and especially in the past 20 years), they exceeded the mighty 40 km/h.
  • The average speeds of Monuments Milan–San Remo and Tour of Flanders regularly exceeded the 40 km/h mark around the year 1960 already. This fact is very impressive considering the equipment the riders had.
  • The heaviest Monument winner ever was Magnus Bäckstedt. He won the 2004 Paris–Roubaix, weighing 94 kg.
  • The BMI of winners from all Monuments is getting lower on average.

What are your thoughts on the Monuments’ statistics? What stats do you find the most mind-blowing? Let me know in the comments section below.

If you have any suggestions to improve this article, feel free to contact me.


Monuments Statistics FAQ


Sources

Preview picture: © A.S.O. / Pauline Ballet (cropped)

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