VeloVoices Awards 2017: Rider of the Year (Male)

The highly coveted Rider of the Year is not for the winningest rider or the one with the most WorldTour points (although in this case …) or the highest paid (again, um, maybe …). We pick our Rider of the Year the way we pick our Rider of the Race – the cyclist who has captured our imagination, animated our season and made us jump up and down a lot.

Previous winners: 2012 – Bradley Wiggins; 2013 – Peter Sagan; 2014 – Michal Kwiatkowski; 2015 – Peter Sagan; 2016 – Peter Sagan

Greg Van Avermaet

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Sheree: From Golden Greg to Monument Man! By the end of 2017, Greg Van Avermaet had racked up a total of 34 career victories, including his first Monument title at Paris-Roubaix, plus winning the 2017 UCI Men’s WorldTour Classification. The Belgian rider started his seventh season at BMC in style with a second consecutive win in the year’s first Classic race, Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. He then added impressive victories at E3 Harelbeke, Gent – Wevelgem and the Tour of Luxembourg along with three hard-fought second places at Strade Bianche, Ronde van Vlaanderen and GP Québec.

Tom Dumoulin

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Midge: I was lightning quick with my nomination to secure a certain dark, dashing Dutchman before Panache. From the maglia rosa in May to rainbow bands in September Tom Dumoulin has come of age in 2017. His first Grand Tour title at the Giro was a storming storybook of mountain raids (that win on Oropa!), cool as a cucumber time trialling and sheer bloody doggedness. He released the TT beast to claim the World TT title by just under a minute and bolstered his cobbled pedigree with victory at the BinckBank Tour (useful if he’s France bound in July 2018). He’s dashing on the podium and also gave us the joke that keeps on giving, what more do I have to write to convince you?

Michal Kwiatkowski

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Kathi: What a season for Michal Kwiatkowski, a favourite of mine from his early days in the pro peloton. The former World Champion started his season off with a solo ride into that beautiful Siena finish in Strade Bianche, his second victory in that gorgeous race. Then, he took on Peter Sagan and won – by a hair – to take his first Milan-San Remo. His form was good in the Ardennes – the part of the Classic season that he loves – but unfortunately his luck wasn’t quite as good, giving him a second step on a Gilbert-topped Amstel Gold podium and a third place in Liege-Bastogne-LiegeThen it was the Tour de France where, in my book, he won the GT for Chris Froome, with his selfless riding, his quicksilver tactical brain, his spidey-sense for an opportunity and his brazen throwing of the Oakleys – absolutely the superest of super-domestiques. He finished up with a victory in Clasica San Sebastian. Can’t wait for next season!

Chris Froome

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Chris: What can you say? Chris Froome is the only the 10th rider in history to win two Grand Tours in a single season with this year’s Tour de France and Vuelta double. Now that Baby Blackbird has retired, the Sky rider holds the most Grand Tour victories of any active riders, with five, joining the likes of Alfredo Binda, Felice Gimondi, and Gino Bartoli. And at 33 years old, Froome still has several good years in front of him.

Peter Sagan

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Kathi: It’s because Peter Sagan is so stupendously talented that this year would seem ‘quiet’ for him (at least in my mind). And in Sagan’s world, this is what quiet looks like: wins at GP Quebec, Kurne-Brussels-Kurne, stage 3 at Tour de France; five overall points jerseys: Tirreno-Adriatico, Tour de Suisse, Tour of Cali, Tour of Poland, BinckBank Tour; second place in Milan-SanRemo, Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. He did get kicked off the Tour de France in one of the most controversial rulings in cycling history but he came back strong and, after staying invisible in the peloton, won the photofinish for a third consecutive World Champions jersey.

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