Today we have a new award that we’ve decided to give in recognition of all those riders who tend to adopt a role serving their team or a team leader rather than having the freedom to pursue glory themselves. We’re calling it the Unsung Hero Award.
Previous winners: New award.
This year’s nominees are:
Mathew Hayman: Orica-GreenEDGE’s grizzled 37-year-old veteran played a key role in supporting Esteban Chaves’ starring performance at the Vuelta a Espana. He sets tempo for hour after hour in those phases of the race we rarely get to see, fetches bottles from the team cars and does whatever it takes to support his leader, while recording just one career win in 13 years at WorldTour level.
Vasil Kiryienka: An unsung hero who this year grabbed the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow jersey. The big Belarusian typically grinds out kilometre after kilometre for his more illustrious Sky team leaders. But he also has three grand tour stage wins from mountain breakaways and this year added the near-60km Giro time trial to his palmares. Then he finished with a flourish, winning the TT at Worlds and also taking the season-ending time trial contest Chrono des Nations.
Koen de Kort: The 33-year-old Dutchman has never won a pro race but he brings big horsepower and big experience to Giant-Alpecin’s lead-out and has been instrumental to the success of both Marcel Kittel and the Mighty Degs over the past few years. You notice him most when he’s not there because the Giant train is nowhere near as effective without him.
Wout Poels: A canny acquisition by Sky who produced some good results of his own – stage wins at Tirreno-Adriatico and the Tour of Britain – as well as playing a key role in preserving Chris Froome’s yellow jersey at the Tour. He’s still only 28 and has bright prospects as either an elite number two or as a one-day racer in his own right.
Manuel Quinziato: At 36, the veteran has seen it all and is a valuable road captain for a BMC team which has lost a lot of experience in the last year or two. He rarely gets a chance to win for himself but when he did at this year’s Eneco Tour he grabbed what was only his second career win – and it was greeted with universal delight in the peloton. He’s also a valuable contributor as a time trialist, winning three team time trials this season, including his and BMC’s second consecutive world title.
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.
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