We’re already a few days into May but still reeling from the thrills and spills of April’s racing and facing the difficult task of confirming our April Rider of the Month. After much debate and consideration, we’ve settled on a shortlist of six riders from which to pick your winner.
First up is Sheree.
Sheree: My rider of the month is the current leader of the UCI pack: Alberto Contador. He didn’t ride the cobbled or Ardennes classics, instead he crushed his rivals in the Vuelta al Pais Vasco, leading the race from start to finish, laying down a marker for other Tour de France contenders and signalling a welcome return to form.
He rode intelligently to take the first stage and boxed clever to keep Alejandro Valverde and the precocious Michal Kwiatkowski, among others, at bay for the rest of the race. Perhaps, even more impressively, he finished second by just seven seconds to a resurgent Tony Martin in the final day’s undulating time trial.
Welcome back Alberto and roll on July!
Ant: Contador has definitely rediscovered his old self, and bettering the in-form Kwiatkowski and Valverde is about as clear an indication as you can get. However, Valverde’s efforts didn’t end there, as Tim will explain.
Tim: I have to admit I’m not his biggest fan but there’s no denying Alejandro Valverde has had a spectacular spring and April may just have been his best month of all.
He started out with a win at the one-day GP Indurain. But it was in Ardennes Week where he really shone. He just missed out on the podium at Amstel Gold before taking a brilliant, intelligent win at Fleche Wallonne. And he was only denied victory at the 100th Liege-Bastogne-Liege by that pesky Simon Gerrans. He has eight wins so far in 2014 – that’s two more than any other rider. Astonishing.
Ant: Astonishing indeed! And speaking of Simon Gerrans picking his moment in Liege, Chris thinks this could be his VeloVoices moment.
Chris: He didn’t win Flèche Wallone but I’m still giving Aussie Simon Gerrans the nickname ‘Gerro the Arrow’ and nominating him for Rider of the Month after his win at Liege-Bastogne-Liege!
Gerrans is the first Australian to win La Doyenne and he did it in style to win the 100th edition of the race. The 33-year-old Victorian has been churning out stunning results for the past 12 months, including two stage wins and two days in the leader’s yellow jersey at last year’s Tour de France, but LBL has to be his finest victory to date.
Ant: Gerro the Arrow, or even Gerranimo? Next up is Jack’s shout.
Jack: It has been a tough few years for Philippe Gilbert, who’s struggled to live up to the remarkable Ardennes triple he achieved in 2011. That made him breaking his classics duck at the Amstel Gold Race all the better – as if the manner in which he won wasn’t spectacular enough! Bursting clear on the steepest part of the Cauberg, the former world champ emphatically demonstrated he’s still got what it takes on the punchy climbs, and would be a worthy Rider of the Month.
Ant: It was great to see PhilGil triumphant again, for sure. Hopefully he’ll have one of his better seasons this year. Now persistence is always a key factor in cycling, and in a show of perseverance, Kathi is sticking with her man from last month.
Kathi: #KwiatKrush! With podium finishes in Flèche and LBL and a time trial stage win at Romandie that put him in the yellow jersey, Michal Kwiatkowski has continued to perform this season. If he keeps this up, he’ll be blazing a trail in the grand tours this summer. OH MY GOD – I just realised that I forgot Cancellara! I … I can’t go on! How stupid am I???? OH MY GOD!!!
Ant: It’s certainly been a hell of a spring for the young Pole, and I can’t deny he’s been one of the top riders throughout the last couple of months. OPQS have really bagged themselves a gem with this lad. That just leaves me to make my nomination.
Ant: Now Kathi, I promise I’m not copying but I’m also nominating the same rider two months running! I’d find it hard not to though. When Niki stormed into the Roubaix velodrome at the end of a glorious race in which he triumphed with a well-timed attack and bloody-minded determination to stay away, I knew he would have to get my vote again.
Terpstra is another rider to have had a great spring, and has done his OPQS team proud. I said it last month, but being a standout rider in a team as rich in talent as OPQS is an achievement in itself, and his Paris-Roubaix win was nothing short of confirmation of what a great rider he is.
So with that, it’s over to you guys to weigh it all up, and cast your votes. It’s not an easy call this month, with many, many great performances, but I know I can rely on you to vote wisely (#voteNiki)!
Voting will be open until Monday at 2100 GMT/2200 BST, and I’ll be back next Thursday to unveil the winner.