VeloVoices Awards 2012: Breakthrough Rider of the Year

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You’ve read the five of us discussing our thoughts on the 2012 season throughout the year. Now it’s time to make your voices heard as we open the voting for the inaugural VeloVoices Awards. Over ten days in ten categories – some serious, others less so – we’re asking you to select your choices of 2012. We’ll publish the final results in the run-up to Christmas. (Hopefully next year we’ll have a grand gala dinner in central London …)

Yesterday we revealed our shortlist for Team of the Year. Today it’s the turn of our nominations for Breakthrough Rider of the Year:

Tim avatarTim: I nominate Marcel Kittel. To be honest, it was a toss-up between Argos-Shinamo’s two young German sprinters, but while five-stage Vuelta winner John Degenkolb is immensely powerful I think Kittel is the faster of the two. What swung it for me was his spring-time win at the semi-Classic Scheldeprijs, where he out-thought and out-fought Tyler Farrar in the final sprint in horrendously wet conditions which called for bravery as well as speed. After a disappointing, illness-hit Tour de France, watch him fly in 2013.

kitty-fondueKitty: Taylor Phinney. He’s always had a great deal of promise and this year he showed that he can deliver on that promise. From his strong showing in Paris-Roubaix (15th) to his stint in the maglia rosa at the Giro d’Italia and possibly the most gripping World Championships time trial contest ever between him and Tony Martin, Phinney’s performances have been all heart and tons of talent. That and his willingness to engage with fans, whether on Twitter or in person, with a cheeky smile and a sense of humour makes him a real star of the peloton. Oh, and I don’t care what anyone says, he looked like a superhero in his USA skinsuit …

avatar jackJack: Nacer Bouhanni was almost solely responsible for all of FDJ’s victories this season, with the pick of the bunch coming at the French national championships. The 21-year old became the youngest man to wear the tricolore since World War II, with that success sitting alongside several others. Unfortunately a win at the Vuelta proved elusive, but with a relatively weak team on a sprinter-unfriendly parcours, this shouldn’t detract from his outstanding season. Hopefully he won’t be overburdened by the expectations of the French public in 2013. After all, they haven’t had a green jersey win since Laurent Jalabert in 1995.

Panache avatarPanache: He’s already been nominated for Rider of the Year, so let’s go with Peter Sagan again here. We all knew he was good in 2011 but 2012 showed us that he is nipping on the heels of greatness. Boonen, Cancellara and Gilbert should be concerned because the Velvet Samurai is coming for the podium spots they normally occupy.

sdw-livestrong-photo_edited shereeSheree: A last-minute replacement at this year’s Tour and its youngest rider, Thibaut Pinot seized the moment. After the disappointment of not winning stage seven on his home turf, he responded with victory in the one immediately afterwards thanks to smart tactics and strong attacking riding. Despite this Tour not particularly suiting his climbing abilities, he hung on in the time trials to finish tenth overall: an impressive feat for one so young. He’s now assumed the mantle of France’s great white Tour hope, a not unreasonable expectation providing he can improve his time-trialling abilities. For now he’s keeping his nose to the grindstone and his feet firmly on the ground.

Tomorrow we’ll unveil our shortlist for our Most Thrilling Moment of the Year.

VeloVoices Awards 2012

Rider of the Year

Team of the Year

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