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 Breakthrough Rider of the Year. Today it’s the turn of our nominations for our Most Thrilling Moment of the Year:
Kitty: Iljo Keisse dropping a chain in the Tour of Turkey. I still get incredibly excited when I see this. Every time I watch the final few kilometres of this race, I find myself perched on the edge of my seat, screaming “Go, go, go!” Breaking from a breakaway, Keisse flew up the road and, in the absence of race radios, the peloton didn’t realise it as they swallowed up the rest of the break. Keisse flew into the final corner, crashed, calmly got up, refixed his chain and carried on. Except the cameras didn’t show that – we thought he was by the side of the road until we saw the home straight. There he was, with the peloton thundering down on him … and he bloody well won!
Jack: Philippe Gilbert winning the Worlds. Gilbert arrived at BMC to much fanfare, as a crucial part of the conception of cycling’s next great super-team. Unfortunately, he was one of its principal underperformers in an underwhelming start to the season. Dogged by injury and illness his spring Classics campaign was a disaster, throwing away his three Ardennes crowns within a dismal week. The exciting, aggressive and dominating Gilbert cycling fans had grown to love last season had all but disappeared. But the Vuelta proved there was hope. Two stage wins suggested he was riding himself into form ahead of the Worlds. He was. His attack on the climb up to the finish in Valkenburg was reminiscent of his now infamous turbocharged uphill sprints. Only this time – unlike in the previous two seasons – the end product was the rainbow jersey. Having endured such a tough season on the back of World Championship disappointment in 2010 and 2011, no one deserved it more.
Panache: Thomas De Gendt turned the Giro on its head when he attacked during stage 20 on the Stelvio. He began the stage in eighth place, 5:40 behind Joaquim Rodríguez but got into a break and then escaped his breakaway companions to solo to victory. At one point De Gendt was just 35 seconds away from the maglia rosa! Garmin-Sharp were forced to throttle themselves to keep Ryder Hesjedal in the hunt for victory.
Sheree: Alberto Contador taking the bull by the horns on stage 17 of this year’s Vuelta a Espana. Just when we all thought that Joaquim Rodriguez had the race in the bag, Bertie confounded his critics and gambled his podium place on a relatively benign stage taking pretty much everyone, Joaquim included, by surprise. Of course, we shouldn’t have been since he’d said he wasn’t going to give up – ever. But having failed to shake off a terrier like Purito on the climbs we figured it was all over bar the shouting. But not for nothing is Bertie the best stage racer of his generation and a much more astute and calculating rider than he’s often given credit for.
Tim: Cycling races are as much about the journey as the destination, so my moment of the year is Thibaut Pinot‘s victory on stage eight of the Tour de France. Not just because it was a fantastic win for a bright young French talent, but for the image of FDJ team boss Marc Madiot leaning out of his car window screaming encouragement at his rider all the way along the final kilometre. It wasn’t just about the financial boost that a stage win at the Tour provides for one of the smaller ProTeams. Madiot eats, sleeps and breathes the sport, and cycling would be poorer and less of a spectacle without his passion and that of others like him.
Tomorrow we’ll unveil our shortlist for our Flop of the Year.
VeloVoices Awards 2012