I still thinks Merckx beats them all easily overall. On a mountain stage, Indurain is weakest. His greatest strength was time trialing, and he relied heavily on his team in the mountains. Anquetil was likewise strongest "contre la montre". Coppi may have been the closest to a pure climber of the lot, though certainly not shabby in other areas. Merckx and Hinault, like Armstrong, were marvelous all around riders with no weaknesses, in the mountains or elsewhere. These last three are also distinguished by amazing mental toughness and desire to win. However, in the big picture, I wouldn't put Armstrong in the same class as any of the others (well, maybe with Indurain), because his palmres is limited almost exclusively to the Tour de France and World Championships (only one major classic), while Merckx, Hinault and Coppi won a long list of classics and/or other grand tours.
In a prior thread, someone said the answer to "Who is the greatest cyclist?" is "You mean after Eddy Merckx?" just as the answer to "Who is the greatest jazz singer?" is "You mean after Ella Fitzgerald?". I agree completely and would add another analogy. It's like "Who is the greatest American musician?" is answered with "You mean after Louis Armstrong?" (no relation to Lance).
> Who of the old school would have best fended off one of Armstrong's charges
> up the mountain?
> Pete Geurds
> Douglassville, PA