It’s the difference between ‘I want it’ and ‘I’m having it’. It’s the surprise of a last minute rocket during a bunch sprint. It’s the howl of glory, the shout of victory, the banging of the handlebars in defeat. Yep, it’s the Race Finish of the Year.
Previous winners: 2015 – Peter Sagan, 2015 Worlds
Kathi: It was nip-and-tuck in the last few hundred metres of the finish of this beautiful race, with Gianluca Brambilla riding immodestly to try to keep ahead of the chasers. But it was not to be. Fabian Cancellara gave Brambilla’s teammate Zdenek Stybar no quarter on the tight corner and then powered away from both Etixx-QuickSteppers to take his third and final Strade Bianche.
Men’s World Championship road race
Sheree: He fought to be in the leading group with most of the world’s top sprinters but would Peter Sagan have enough in the tank to retain his rainbow stripes in the sands of Doha? He sure did! In a move reminiscent of sprinters such as Robbie McEwan and Oscar Freire, he timed his attack to absolute perfection, powered away, beating former world champions Mark Cavendish and Tom Boonen, and the gold was his! Never had there been such a stellar podium …
Ant: One of the things which makes Paris-Roubaix stand out is its ability to produce an unexpected winner. When that unexpected winner is a popular grafter from the peloton, it makes the result so much more pleasing. This year, as with most editions of this great race, the finale was edge-of-the-seat stuff with the added spice of a thundering Tom Boonen fighting (and being willed on by most of us) to make history. It was all-out racing from Ian Stannard, Boonen, Matti Hayman, Sep Vanmarcke, and EBH and they treated us to an electric finish, the sort of race you felt honoured to have witnessed.
GP de Denain
Midge: There have been some heart stopping, edge-of-your-seat finishes this year. But the race that popped into my head when the award was touted was Dan McLay‘s mazy, mesmeric run for the line at the GP de Denain. I was flabbergasted at the time, and watching it again now I still can’t believe how he threaded his way through and kept rubber to the tarmac. Sheer instinctive sprinting.
Stage 12, Tour de France
Panache: Mont Ventoux has always produced spectacular finishes but this year’s stage 12 up the giant of Provence led to a finish no one expected. With Nairo Quintana in trouble, Chris Froome attacked with Richie Porte and Bauke Mollema in tow. Disaster struck in the final few kilometers when a television motorcycle stopped suddenly as fans blocked the roadway. Porte crashed hard into the back of it, causing Mollema and Froome to go down too. With his bike in pieces, Froome decided to run towards the finish line! The yellow jersey was now attempting a duathlon! It was complete chaos as the race jury attempted to sort things out, finally neutralising the end of the stage and keeping Froome in yellow.
The underdog took it! GP de Denain got 33% of the vote; Paris-Roubaix, 24%; Strade Bianche, 18%; Worlds, 14%; Mont Ventoux 10%.
Header image: Getty Images Sport/Bryn Lennon