We’ve reached the time of year when it’s difficult to fill newspaper and cycling magazine columns without taking a retrospective look at the season. This seemed like a suitable discussion topic for my English class on Wednesday evening. We were surprisingly of similar minds:-
Rider of the Year
One day races:- There were only two candidates: Fabian Cancellara and Philippe Gilbert. Both were competitive throughout the season and both wore Grand Tour leader’s jerseys but, after much debate, we settled on Spartacus: the 4th ITT rainbow jersey tipping the balance in his favour.
Stage races:- As winner of the Tour de France, the most difficult Grand Tour to win, Alberto should have been a shoe in but, sensitive to post-Tour issues such as that itsy, bitsy trace of Clenbuterol, our gong went to Vicenzo Nibali: 3rd in the Giro and winner of the Vuelta.
Memorable Performance of the Year
Actually, there were so many this year that it was hard to whittle it down to just one. Among others, we considered: Fabian’s wins in Flanders and Paris-Roubaix, PhilGil’s wins at Amstel and Lombardy, Cadel Evans at Fleche Wallonne, Bobbie Traskel at K-B-K, Thor at the World Championships, Vino at L-B-L. Finally, we settled on Thor’s performance at the World Championship’s in Geelong. Given that the Norwegian team numbered only three riders, his win demonstrated perfectly his ability to be in the right place at exactly the right time to power to the line.
Best One-day Race of the Year
Here too we had plenty of contenders, but we finally plumped for PhilGil’s win in the Tour of Lombardy, his second consecutive win in the race. It was not just the manner of his win but that he gave no quarter despite the appalling weather conditions.
Best Stage Race of the Year
While we all agreed that the Tour is the most difficult Grand Tour to win, largely because of the depth of competition and the psychological pressures, it can be predictable. Both the Giro and Vuelta raised their games this year to produce thrilling and, at times, unpredictable racing. Finally, we agreed on the Giro d’Italia.
Team of the Year
Hands down, no contest. Liquigas were the best stage racing team and HTC-Columbia the team that racked up the most wins.
No argument: Cervelo Test Team.
Unanimously awarded to Footon-Servetto
Unsung Hero of the Year
Again, we found it difficult to whittle down the contenders as so many team mates sacrifice their own chances of glory for their leaders. In addition, the work of many riders is done and dusted before the television cameras hove into view. In the end, we decided that the unsung heroes were the hard working domestiques in every team without whom no leader would ever win races.
Best French Rider
Loyal, and ever-smiling, Tommy Voeckler of Bbox without whom his team manager might not have reeled in replacement sponsor Europcar.
Breakout Rider of the Year
Votes were split between the loquacious Peter Sagan of Liquigas and the cherubic faced Richie Porte of Saxobank.
Worst Pro-Tour Race of the Year
There aren’t any, we all love cycle racing wherever and whenever.
Story/Issue of the Year
Sadly, we all agreed these had to be the doping issues. Namely,
- Pellizotti being banned from racing due to (unfounded?) passport irregularities
- Floyd Landis’s accusations against Lance, plus his own confessions
- Contador and Clenbuterol
Disappointment of the Year
UCI’s unilateral changes to the way teams are evaluated which demonstrated a distinct lack of understanding of the evolution of the sport.