This is an award that can be a rider or someone who works within cycling – and we have both this year. A couple of hard-riding domestiques and one mighty woman who is taking on inequality in sport. Yeah! But if you’d like to sing the praises of someone not on our list, it’s time for a write in vote …
Previous winners: 2015 – Manuel Quinziato. 2016 – Stephen Cummings and Damien Howson.
Daniel OssEmbed from Getty Images
Kathi: Daniel Oss has always been a team player – a rider who you can count on to put it all on the line for his teammates. And there’s no greater example of this than this year’s Paris-Roubaix (when he made VeloVoices Rider of the Race!). Sector 18 and Oss is out in front with fellow breaker Jasper Stuyven, allowing Greg Van Avermaet to ride in the wheels as others chased the two down, conserving energy for the pointy end of the race. By that time, Oss had been out by himself for some time – he even said he had a little dream of winning from there – until a GVA-led group caught him. He still wasn’t done, though, and rode his heart out with GVA on his wheel until he dropped back with 20km to go. The excitement on his face when he caught up with GVA in the middle of the Velodrome was priceless.
Bridie O’DonnellEmbed from Getty Images
Panache: Bridie O’Donnell has always been a VeloVoices favourite – bold, talented, straight-talking – and she’s keeping up the fight for equality in sport as head of the Office for Women in Sport and Recreation in Victoria, Australia. I can’t possibly describe her plans as well as this feature on Mighty Bridie so read it and then vote BRIDIE!
Jarlinson PantanoEmbed from Getty Images
Sheree: This year Jarlinson Pantano was Alberto Contador’s ever-present wing man often setting a fast pace for the Spaniard to launch one of his trademark attacks. An important role in what turned out to be Baby Blackbird’s final year. Pantano confirmed in a recent interview:
“This year, to ride with Alberto was a great experience. He’s a great cyclist and a great team leader, and it was a real privilege. But, for me it’s not just important that he’s a great cyclist, he’s also a great person. He’s someone that you can trust – the whole team has full confidence in him. You know that he will work as hard as possible to achieve his objectives and give his all.”
Julien VermoteEmbed from Getty Images
Midge: We’ve all seen Julien Vermote, the Belgian with the blonde quiff, in his usual position at the front of the peloton. Over the cobbles in spring or on French roads in July, arms over the top of his handlebars, legs churning, controlling the break. Whittling down their advantage with metronomic precision before unleashing an inch perfect leadout for his teammates to take advantage of. Five victories with Marcel Kittel and a VeloVoices rider of the race award at the Tour de France crowned his last season with the Quicksteppers, he’s off to pastures new at Dimension Data in 2018. He’ll be missed!