It’s part two, from N to Z, of our idiosyncratic, tongue-in-cheek look back at the 2013 season. Yesterday we went from Angliru to Married, today it’s Nocturnal to Zola!
N is for Nocturnal
The nighttime finish at the Tour de France – it really was rather spectacular, wasn’t it?! It was quite a sight to see the peloton whipping around the Arc de Triomphe for the first time and the Champs was absolutely packed with fans from around the world.
It was the perfect showcase for a sprinting showdown, with Marcel Kittel getting the better of Mark Cavendish on a piece of road that Cav has pretty much owned for the last four years. A great end to a great Tour.
O is for Oprah
Who knew that America’s number one talk show host would play a part in the 2013 season. ‘Did you ever …’ Personally, I think she should have asked Lance Armstrong the yes/no questions and then just taken off her microphone and walked away.
P is for Panda
Native Americans believe that everyone has a spirit animal to help guide them through life. Dan Martin had a panda to guide him to victory at Liege-Bastogne-Liege. It was the continuation of a brilliant breakthrough season for the Irish rider, which included an overall win at the Volta a Catalunya and a stage win at the Tour de France. He even placed second in the Tour of Beijing, a panda’s spiritual home.
Q is for Quit (or not)
The World Championship men’s road race saw a field of 210 finish with just 60 riders. None of Team GB finished.
But there was one race – cold, wet and 30% gradients – that was the setting for one rider who refused to quit. Taylor Phinney‘s tweets after finishing stage six at Tirreno-Adriatico is what we love about cycling.
R is for Reductions
Austerity has hit the peloton. It has been said in the press that Alberto Contador accepted a pay cut in order to help out Bjarne Riis’ financial crunch. (I wonder if he’ll negotiate a full salary now that Tinkov is in charge – I’m betting not.) Then there was rumours that the Schleck brothers were offered contracts with the new Trek team but only if they took a whopping pay cut. Then, Thomas de Gendt had to settle for a massive 80 per cent pay cut due to his Vacansoleil team folding and his scramble to get a contract to ride next year.
There were also retirements – some planned, some forced upon riders. Some of the names we’ll not be seeing next year include Juan Antonio Flecha, whose retirement was prompted by the aforementioned folding of Vacansoleil; Dave Zabriskie, who quietly climbed off his bike in the midst of Il Lombardia; and Danilo di Luca, who received a lifetime ban for being popped for what felt like the 15th time this year.
S is for Sagan
There have been times when he went a bit too far – Pinchgate comes to mind – but the rest of the time? Peter Sagan was magic. On the bike, he was the rider with the most wins of the season with 22 – from the spring cobbles straight through to the summer in France and North America – and he won the Tour de France’s green jersey in a soul-destroying, spirit-crushing, dominant performance that sewed up the competition by the end of the first week. Green goatees, wheelies on Ventoux, sliding stops just short of photographers – Peter Sagan never failed to light up any race he was in.
T is for Throwing the Pinarello
Also known as doing a Wiggins.
U is for UCI
Pat McQuaid‘s fight to stay UCI President by playing fast and loose with the nominating rules. Hein Verbruggen desperately clinging to the kerb as Lance Armstrong attempted to throw him under a bus. Brian Cookson heading up the UCI and (hopefully) bringing some credibility to the institution – all cycling fans are praying that 2014 will be one of integrity for the sport’s governing body. It couldn’t get much worse.
V is for Ventoux
Mont Ventoux was where Chris Froome effectively won the 2013 Tour de France by powering away from Alberto Contador on the slopes and, with only Nairo Quintana for company, spun the pedals like a cartoon character in his accelerations on his way to the stage win.
Oh, and Peter Sagan did this at the base of Ventoux.
W is for Weather gods
The weather gods seemed to be in one hell of a bad mood for most of the spring, throwing snow, hail, torrential downpours, wind – everything – at the peloton. Milan San-Remo had to cut the race in half due to weather conditions.
Italy just kept giving, as the Giro had to curtail one stage and cancel one altogether due to snow.
Even the Vuelta had a case of hypothermia. Add to that, the treacherous downpours at the World Championships in Florence and the rain, rain, rain at il Lombardia and I think we can safely say, Italy wanted to turn the screws on the peloton this year.
X is for X-rated
Three things that were so disturbing they were downright fascinating. First up: Panache dressing the part on Alpe d’Huez.
Second would be Assos’s KuKu Penthouse. Giving the guys just that extra bit of wiggle room. At over £300, we expect that wiggle room to be lined with ermine. (Oh blimey, I hope I didn’t give Assos any ideas – their photoshoots are #unclass enough as it is …)
Thirdly, it had to be Fabian‘s peek-a-boo skinsuit for the World’s time trial championships (who supplies Switzerland’s kit? Assos…). I believe we all are acquainted with my Fabs obsession but even I found this a bit … hmmmmm. But it does make you wonder – with these mesh suits, what would the tan lines look like? Or is that just me wondering those things? Just me? Really?
Y is for Yorkshire 2014
Great Britain is again hosting the Grand Depart for the Tour de France and Yorkshire is hoping to build on the success of London’s Grand Depart in 2007. Word has it every hotel and B&B room has been booked up already. But that won’t stop cycling fans from all over Europe from standing by the roadside, cheering the boys on!
Z is for Zola
So what, you might be asking, does 19th-century French novelist Emile Zola have to do with the 2013 season? Well, he brings this entire column full circle, for it was Kenny Elissonde who won the Angliru stage in this year’s Vuelta.
But what, you might be asking, does Zola have to do with Kenny? This.