Bike racing evokes a roller coaster of emotions. For every peak of exhilarating excitement and sheer joy, there are the hurtles downward to despair. Here’s our take on what gave us pause for thought in 2017.
Previous winners: 2016 – Annemiek van Vleuten
Samuel Sanchez’s Positive Drug TestEmbed from Getty Images
Sheree: For the past couple of years, as the season starts to wind down, I’ve started to plan my homage to former Olympic champion Samu Sanchez only for him to be pulled back from the brink of retirement by yet another contract extension – but not this year. Pre-Vuelta, rumours abounded that team-mate Richie Porte was keen to retain the aging Spaniard’s services. Presumably, it would all rest on his performance in that race. Sadly, he never made the start line as he was provisionally suspended (and then sacked when the B-sample returned the same result) for testing positive for banned substance GHRP-2, a synthetic peptide that causes the release of growth hormone within the body. Another fine career down the drain! Oh, and I’ve deleted my draft homage.
Sagan & Cav, Tour de France, Stage FourEmbed from Getty Images
Panache: Mark Cavendish and Peter Sagan leaving the Tour de France changed the face of the race and robbed everyone of the chance to enjoy these two superb riders strut their stuff on the world’s biggest stage. The riders lost, the teams lost, the race lost and the fans lost. [This seems to get a lot of nominations in a lot of different categories … Ed]
Velocast: Claudia Cretti‘s horrifying, high-speed crash on stage 8 of the Giro Rosa that left her with serious head injuries and in an induced coma – just days after her first Women’s WorldTour victory on stage 4. There were times when we all feared the worst, I’m delighted and relieved that she is making a good recovery. #ForzaClaudia
When the Vuelta went the way of the TourEmbed from Getty Images
Kathi: Three weeks can fly by – or it can drag. When the top step of a Grand Tour is locked down in the first week, it can test even the most exuberant of fans as it means that the other podium contenders will most probably be riding defensively for the rest of the three weeks. This happened in both the Tour and the Vuelta this year. Stage 3 of the Vuelta was when my heart broke …
The break up of Bling and WawaEmbed from Getty Images
Midge: Michael Matthews and Warren Barguil were Team Sunweb’s summer ‘it’ couple. The Tour de France roomies ended up with a suitcase full of polka dots and green jerseys and four stage wins between them. Ferocious on the bike, winning smiles off it and a willingness to ride for each other every time it was called for. It was a bromance to rival Bernie & Cav and we looked forward to the golden years to come. Alas it was not be, with Wawa moving to French team Fortuneo-Oscaro in 2018. At least we will always have this…
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