Now I’m not meaning to steal the Oscars’ thunder, but it gives me great pleasure to welcome you to the new look VeloVoices Rider of the Month awards. We’re a democratic bunch here at VeloVoices, so we’re casting our shady selection process aside, and turning to our fellow Veloshirians to choose the Rider of the Month.
So here’s the deal, we’re going to throw some names out there, and talk up respective guys, and then it’s down to you guys to vote for the winner. When the votes are all counted up, we’ll come back and let you know who you’ve crowned. This month, we’re killing two birds with one stone, that is to say, we’re squeezing January and February into one bumper award. So let’s start it off …
Tim: I’m putting Chris Froome forward. It’s a safe and predictable selection, but that doesn’t diminish how impressive his performance in Oman was. It’s easy to forget that this event was his first ever GC win a year ago.
If anything, he was even better this year. He dominated the opposition on Green Mountain to seal his overall win. But what impressed me even more was the way he so willingly went on the attack on the other two hilly stages. Remember how we praised Alberto Contador for being so aggressive on similar stages last year? Froome deserves those same plaudits here. Make no mistake: he means business in 2014.
Jack: The rider who’s stood out for me is Sacha Modolo. He has started his Lampre-Merida career with a bang, already picking up four wins since the big move from Pro Continental team Bardiani Valvole-CSF Inox. He took a stage of the Tour de San Luis before winning two legs of the Vuelta a Mallorca, rounding out February by winning the first stage of the Volta ao Algarve. This could be start of a breakout year for the Italian sprinter.
Kathi: I’m going for Andre Greipel. With six sprint victories under his belt – two in the TDU, three in Tour of Oman (plus the green jersey) and one in the Tour of Qatar – the Gorilla has had the best start of any of the big sprinters this year. Although he was looking for a win at this year’s Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne, Tom Boonen wasn’t going to let that happen, but having confirmed for Milan-San Remo, he looks ready to fight to win his first monument this year. Oh, and his snowy white national championship kit is fabulous. That alone should make him Rider of the Month!
Sheree: My pick of the bunch is Tom Boonen. After an unforgettable injury strewn 2013, Tom and his magnificent Boonens are back with a bang. He recorded his first stage victory on one of his hallowed stomping grounds, the Tour of Qatar, a race where he’s dominated the overall in seasons past. This year he was happy to take victories on stages two and four en route to supporting a teammate to take the overall. Since getting out of the starting blocks in South America at the Tour de San Luis, looking fitter and leaner than ever, he’s already notched up eight top five placings, including his win in Sunday’s Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne. This bodes well for a battle royale on the cobbles.
Chris: I nominate Alejandro Valverde as rider of the month. He has had a panachetastic start to 2014, winning five times already – more than any other rider except Greipel. The Movistar team leader won his third Ruta del Sol by taking the prologue and the opening two stages against quality riders such as Richie Porte and Bradley Wiggins. And if that wasn’t enough, just this past weekend he won the 34th Vuelta a Murcia!
Ant: And that just leaves me to speak up for my nomination, Taylor Phinney. He is carrying a significant weight of expectation this year, but he got off to a winning start, taking his first ever stage race victory at the inaugural Dubai Tour. Okay, in years to come, it’s unlikely that this will rank amongst his greatest victories, but it’s a landmark, and it did involve conquering both Tony Martin and Fabian Cancellara in the opening time trial. Plus, the dude was racing in Versace, I mean, come on …
So there you have it guys, six worthy winners who’ve all started the season in some style. Now it’s down to you to choose the winner, so get your votes in and let’s see who’s won Veloshire over. The poll closes on Monday at 2200 GMT.