With every spinetingler, there must be an equal and opposite heartbreaker. This new category is for the riders who gave everything and got pipped at the post. Who made one small mistake and lost the big prize. Who ended the race with that stricken look on their face. Their time has come …
Previous winners: New category
Darwin Atapuma, Stage 20, Vuelta
Kathi: For me, this was one of the greatest stages of a Grand Tour ever. The peloton was busted apart and the riders were scattered in twos and threes all over the climbs – and everyone was battling hard. No one more than Darwin Atapuma (BMC) and Pierre Latour (Ag2r) for the stage win. It was Atapuma who ended the stage with a broken heart, possibly due to misjudging where the finish line was, giving Latour the chance to pip him to the post.
Diego Rosa, Il Lombardia
Sheree: Who can forget Diego Rosa‘s bitter tears of regret after finishing runner-up at Il Lombardia to Esteban Chaves? Riding strongly in support of Astana leader Fabio Aru, he was finally allowed to ride his own race and rode powerfully to close the gap to the leading trio. Four became three and, as they rode up the final climb to Bergamo Alta, knowing he wasn’t the fastest finisher, Rosa attacked with just over a kilometre to go. He was hauled back and, leading the breakaway trio into the final downhill right turn, agonisingly lost the race in the final 50 metres.
Mara Abbott, Women’s road race, Rio2016
Ant: I was going to say Annemiek van Vleuten suffering that horrific crash in Rio. Few moments in bike racing have scared me more than that moment. BUT, instead I’m opting for Mara Abbott being caught just shy of the line in the same race.
Kenny Elissonde, Vuelta KOM jersey
Midge: Ah, Kenny, Kenny, Kenny – wild, quixotic, feisty and impetuous. #LePetit had a splendid Vuelta and was in possession polka dot jersey by 3 points from Omar Fraile going into the penultimate stage. In a bold bid to put the jersey beyond reach he shot out of the peloton on the first climb of the day, blew up, and Fraile collected 5 points and the lead. Kenny attacked all day long and did score again, but it wasn’t enough. He finished second by a single point and I was torn between applause and tears.
Annemiek van Vleuten, Women’s road race, Rio2016
Panache: Annemiek van Vleuten was the strongest women’s rider at the 2016 Olympics road race in Rio. The young Dutch rider had been aggressive when she needed to be and led the race solo in the final KMs. She had nearly sealed the victory when she crashed in a horrifying manner on the final descent of Vista Chinesa. For all those watching it was terrifying to see van Vleuten lay motionless on the road side. I will admit that I shed tears thinking there was a possibility that her country, friends and family might have lost her in that moment. Miraculously, she regained consciousness and was stabilised at the hospital – and soon back on her bike.
It wasn’t even close. With 50% of the vote, you voted for Annemiek van Vleuten with Mara Abbott second with 29% of the vote. Diego Rosa, Darwin Atapuma and Kenny Elissonde formed the gruppetto and only just made the cut with 8%, 7% and 5% respectively.