Today the spotlight falls on those talented youngsters who have made us all sit up and take notice of their names, and in some cases learn how to spell and pronounce them! It’s time for the VeloVoices Award for Breakthrough Rider of the Year. We’ve always played a little fast and loose with the criteria but basically they should be aged 25 or under at the start of 2015, not an existing A-lister, and not nominated for our Rider of the Year. Looking at the list, I think we did a pretty good job at sticking to the rules – a VeloVoices first!
Previous winners: 2012 – Taylor Phinney. 2013 – Nairo Quintana. 2014 – Michal Kwiatkowski
This year’s nominees are:
Mikel Landa: The 25-year-old Basque rider has had an exceptional season despite the domestique role he has played for Astana. Forced to play second fiddle to Fabio Aru at both the Giro and the Vuelta, he still won three stages and took third overall at the Giro. We hope a move to Sky for 2016 will present more chances at leadership which we expect him to grab with both hands – and possibly with his earpiece out.
Adam Yates: He’s 23, gritty and tenacious and that suits us just fine. A top ten overall at Tirenno-Adriatico was followed by a Tour de France debut where he shimmied his way uphill to two seventh places. His first WorldTour win came at the Clásica de San Sebastián and he very nearly added a second in the torrential rain at GP Montreal.
Esteban Chaves: Winner of two great stages at the Vuelta, graced the red jersey podium six times, attacked every time he could and generally made that Grand Tour the most exciting of the year. Esteban really was the little Colombian who could – and he did it all with a beaming smile and the most humble personality in the peloton.
Tiesj Benoot: The only nominee in his first year as a professional rider, this 21-year-old Belgian put together a fine spring campaign culminating in a superb fifth place at the Tour of Flanders. As all the best classics riders do, he came back strong in the late season, finishing top ten overall at the Eneco Tour and fifth at Montreal. With a debut season like that, it’s no wonder he’s talked of as the heir apparent to Tom Boonen.
Joe Dombrowski: It’s been a joy to watch this talented American return to something like his old form this season. His best results came on home ground: fourth at the Amgen Tour of California, oh so close to pulling on the stars and stripes at the US national road race and taking the stage on Snowbird to seal his Tour of Utah win.
Let us know your choice and the reasons for it – or if we have missed out your personal favourite – in the comments below.
You can hear us discussing the shortlists for all our 2015 awards on the latest edition of the podcast.
Polls will close at 2359 GMT (UK time) on Friday 4th December.
Next: Lifetime Achievement Award