Perhaps it's worth revisiting this question 12 years after it was asked. The compact crankset won. It's a good thing that it won. Actually, I think we should have known at the time that the attitude towards compact cranks was not constructive and likely wrong.
If we didn’t know then, we certainly have no excuse now. The rider in question is now 12 years older. He is or he should be thanking the industry for this development. Alternatively, maybe he is grinding up hills at 50 rpm, cursing his declining fitness and/or the width of modern rims and tires. For consumer-oriented bikes, I think that either compact or sub-compact (52/36) cranksets are defaults. I have the latter1, but I basically never use the 52/11 gear.
If anything, with tires getting bigger (which increases effective gearing) and roads getting rougher, I think there is a case for road bikes manufacturers to consider offering sub-compact road cranks, e.g. the 48/31 gearing offered on Shimano GRX cranks, or smaller than that, or the equivalents for SRAM and the newer Campagnolo gearing. Not all cyclists have the fitness to push standard compacts, modern tire sizes, and 11-30 cassettes or their equivalents. It is a good thing to offer more options to make the sport accessible to people of different ages and abilities. Some will say that it worked for Eddy Merckx. My favorite rejoiner these days is that Henri Desgrange said that real men ride fixed gears2.
Alternatively, people should consider gravel bikes. The more road-like ones especially can be fitted with road wheels and tires. The greater number of mounting points can also be a plus. The geometries of endurance road and road-like gravel bikes are similar. And for that matter, commenters like Path Less Pedaled have argued that there should be chainrings smaller than 46/30, which I think is the minimum Shimano offers (SRAM has 43/30 chainrings, but they start with 10t cogs).
This wasn't clearly known at the time, but there is one technical point against smaller chainrings. It's now known that drivetrain friction increases, ignoring chainline, with smaller chainrings and smaller cogs. However, for most consumers, the differences are ignorable - going from sub-compact to compact cranks is probably 1W or less difference on a 250W input. This is quite a high power for most amateurs. Some time trialists put gears even bigger than 53/39 on their bikes to a) reduce drivetrain friction and b) optimize their chainline, so that their most commonly used gears are in the center of the cassette. They aren't actually pushing 56/11s. They do not have the strength. On the parts of the course where you could push a 56/11, it would be better to conserve energy there and expend it on, say, the climbs.
Footnote 1: In my defense, that size was on sale and the retailer didn't have a 50/34 crank in my desired size (165mm).
2: this is a paraphrase. The translated quote from a L’Equipe interview is:
I still feel that variable gears are only for people over 45 … Isn't it better to triumph by the strength of your muscles than by the artifice of a derailer? We are getting soft; as for me, give me a fixed gear!
Thus, I feel like the paraphrase is accurate.