You’ve read the six of us discussing our thoughts on the 2013 season throughout the year. Now it’s time to make your voices heard as we open the voting for the second annual VeloVoices Awards. Over the next few weeks we’re asking you to select your choices of 2013 across a variety of serious and not-so-serious categories. We’ll publish the final results in the run-up to Christmas. (Pat McQuaid did promise us a grand gala dinner in central London, but that appears to have fallen off his agenda recently. Can’t imagine why.)
We ran our poll for the Race of the Year at the end of October – you declared the winner to be Tony Martin’s near miss on stage six of the Vuelta a Espana. Today it’s the turn of our nominations for the Rider of the Year, which was won last year by Bradley Wiggins.
Ant: My nomination is Adam Hansen. While there have been many top performances from the ‘big guns’ this season, none of these guys would have been able to do it without their back-up, and Hansen has again proven himself to be the uber-domestique. Not only did he once again take on EVERY grand tour this season, he did it with a smile and with flair. Often on the attack, he picked up a great stage win in the Giro, and had plenty of other attacking exploits to mix in with his major support role for Lotto-Belisol. Hansen rides with the zest and sense of fun of somebody who loves what they do, and that is just what the sport needs right now.
Jack: It has been another stellar season for Joaquim Rodriguez, who is the best cyclist in the pro peloton according to the UCI rankings. Tragically he’s got few victories on his palmares to show for his immensely consistent campaign, in which he finished third in the Tour de France, fourth in the Vuelta and then an agonising second in the World Championships, though he definitely deserved more for his efforts. With his compatriot Alberto Contador struggling to find his best form, there are no more exciting grand tour specialists around at the moment, and his late victory at Il Lombardia highlights his versatility. Surely he can’t be the bridesmaid once again in our Rider of the Year vote!
Kathi: Fabian Cancellara is already one of the greatest classic riders ever and this year with his Flanders/Roubax double, he showed he could win with his trademark ‘ride away from everyone and time trial to the finish’ as well as almost performing Jedi mind tricks on his competition in Roubaix, with a bit of rope-a-dope back at the team car, to making the other guys in the break work with him, not just sit on his wheel; to his track-stand-off with Sep Vanmarcke to take the sprint in the velodrome. That and his work in the Vuelta and his third place in the World Championships individual time trial – yep, rider of the year for me.
Panache: There is no question that 2013 was the ‘Season of Sagan‘. The Slovakian won 22 times, more than any other rider, showing a consistency few could match during the entire season. Other than Cancellara, Sagan was the most dominant rider in the classics, winning Gent-Wevelgem and placing second in Strade Bianche, Milan-San Remo, E3 Harelbeke and the Tour of Flanders. Sagan collected points jerseys like baseball cards, winning at the USA ProCycling Challenge, the Tour of California, the Tour of Alberta, the Tour de Suisse, and the Tour de France. His performance at the Tour was so dominant that we wonder if anyone will be able to compete for the green jersey for years to come.
Sheree: Last year Vincenzo Nibali was the only rider to attempt to challenge Wiggo in the Tour de France. He’s matured since his move to Astana and has become both a more savvy and aggressive rider. He successfully defended his trident in Tirreno-Adriatico and won the Giro del Trentino before achieving his 2013 goal – overall victory in the Giro d’Italia ridden at times in horrendous conditions. He came back strongly in the last part of the season, finishing as runner-up at the Vuelta a Espana and a heroic fourth in the road race at the World Championships, where he won the hearts and minds of cycling fans everywhere.
Tim: That leaves me with the unenviable task of choosing between the Tour de France winner and the new world champion. I have so much respect for Rui Costa’s achievements this year, but I have to go with Chris Froome. It’s easy to forget that he had never won a stage race before this season, but he finished it with victories at the Tour of Oman, Criterium International, Tour of Romandy, the Dauphine and, of course, the 100th Tour. He did with a team which wasn’t the all-dominating force it was in 2012, and he did it with panache: winning in the mountains, winning against the clock. The scariest thing is he’s still only 28 and he may not have peaked yet.
Next: Team of the Year.