The last month appears to have flown by like Tony Martin in time trial mode and it falls to us to nominate our Rider of the Month for April. Last month, Fabian Cancellara was the (possibly) proud recipient of VeloVoices’ new monthly accolade, along with honorary membership of Team Fondue .(I think you’ll find that’s legally binding, Fabian.)
Obviously those who missed out on the award took the blow quite badly, most notably Peter Sagan, and his form dipped a little through April as he struggled to overcome the disappointment. Others, however, stepped up their game, as I am sure we will see through the nominations. So let me waffle on no further and let’s get down to business. Who are we voting for?
Kitty: My nomination for Rider of the Month is once again Fabian Cancellara. His win at Paris-Roubaix at the beginning of April was epic – and so different from most of his other victories in the Classics. In this edition, his team gave him excellent support, he faked a bad spell before bridging all the way up to the lead group, he refused to pull his companions to the finish only to be pipped at the post, and he played Sep Vanmarcke like a banjo in the velodrome. Brilliant.
Tim: When your uncle and cousin are Stephen and Nicolas Roche and your father was also an Olympic cyclist, expectations get raised pretty high pretty quickly. Still only 26, Dan Martin is already reaching the point where he’s going to have to raise the bar again. Before this year, he had already won a stage at the Vuelta and the overall at the Tour of Poland, and finished in the top five at both Fleche Wallonne and Liege-Bastogne-Liege, but 2013 is proving to be his break-out year, with overall victory at the Volta a Catalunya in March. And then in April he was fourth at Fleche – and only inches away from the podium – before winning Liege by overhauling no less a rival than J-Rod in the final kilometre. I called his victory 5km from the end, and I’m calling this now: one day Dan Martin will finish on the podium at a Grand Tour. I think we will look back on April 2013 as the month in which he blossomed from being a potentially great rider into a great one, period.
Ant: Unbeknownst to Panache, Tim had made tactical use of the transatlantic time difference to get first dibs on Dan Martin. Now we’re not a feuding bunch (as anybody who saw last week’s AntBanter will know, cycling and fighting don’t mix), so rather than make them fight it out, I’ve allowed a joint nomination this time around.
Sheree: April has seen the Colombians coming of age, starting with their impressive performances in the Vuelta al Pais Vasco, where it was literally a case of last man standing. Quintana and Henao won the two summit finishes while Betancur ran them close. However, Nairo Quintana saved the best for last and emerged triumphant after giving his all in the final time trial. We knew he could climb, but who knew he could time trial too?
Jack: Considering that this is his first season on a WorldTour team, Carlos Betancur‘s results are highly impressive. Third at Fleche Wallonne, fourth at Liege-Bastogne-Liege, and seventh overall at Vuelta al Pais Vasco is impressive for any rider, never mind an inexperienced 23-year-old. Yet another talented Colombian destined for big things.
Ant: I’m also nominating a Colombian who had a great spring. As Sheree has pointed out, Sergio Henao had a cracking race in the Basque country and led the race going into the final time trial, which took place in some pretty appalling weather and saw him drop onto the third step of the podium despite a gutsy ride. He also took seventh place in Amstel Gold, sprinting in with the chasing pack 22 seconds behind race winner Roman Kreuziger, and then went on to take second place at Fleche Wallonne, with some astute work in the final kilometre. His generally consistent and tenacious riding makes him a contender for me.
And April’s Rider of the Month is…
In the style of TV cookery programmes, we’ve already done the tricky stuff, and can therefore jump straight ahead from the nominations and instantaneously present you with our pièce de resistance, April’s Rider of the Month. And here he is, the first Brummie to win a Classic: Mr Dan Martin.
As you can see from the nominations above, Dan has triumphed over some pretty tough competition, and although the consensus among the six of us is pretty much unanimous, he has been pushed all the way. Carlos Betancur was snapping at his heels in second place, and there is sure to be more to come from the little guy, although I think regular trips to a barber should form part of his training regime from now on. Fabian Cancellara’s beautiful win at Roubaix earned him third step on our hypothetical podium in what was a #panachetastic defence of his Rider of the Month title. Sergio Henao was also balancing on the third step with Fabs.
So congratulations to Dan Martin on a phenomenal month, and a great start to the year. There must be very few people who weren’t moved to screaming at their television when watching him storm through to victory in Liege, and frankly, we’re all pretty chuffed to see him win again here. I think we should now look to Jonathan Vaughters for the final word on this award, and if he feels anything like he did after Liege, I’m sure he’d say something like this:
JV Tweet from 21st April immediately after the race: “hahshahavhaaaaaaaaaaaaaaapprhthgdghhc!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
But what do you guys think? Have we got our ticks in the right boxes with our votes? Have we missed somebody out who also had a great month? Let us know what you think!