Panache, balls-to-the-wall grit, heartbreaking and heartstopping! Here are the race finishes that left us screaming with excitement in 2018 – let us know in the comments if we’ve missed yours. Vote now!
Previous winners: 2015 Worlds; 2016 GP de Denain; 2017 Milan-San Remo
Kathi: The highlights reel of this season’s Strade Bianche doesn’t quite show just how exciting that finish was, as once it was clear that Tiesj Benoot was going to carry on, bare-armed and mud-crusted, to a solo win, it was down to the fight for second and third that really made this race for me. Romain Bardet and Wout Van Aert battled it out until that final killer kilometre into Siena where Bardet’s climbing skills gave him the edge and Van Aert came off his bike after coming to a standstill on the super-steep incline. Still sets me on the edge of my seat!
Amgen Tour of California, Stage 3
Luke: In the States, we have practically adopted Toms Skujins. He came up through the Hincapie team before joining Jonathan Vaughter’s squad and now rides for Trek. We think any Skujins victory is gorgeous, but his win on Stage 3 of the Amgen Tour of California was something extra spectacular. One year after crashing out of the race with a concussion, Skujins’ potato-fuelled legs led him to a solo victory on a day designed for sprinters. But that isn’t what made this the best race finish of the year, it was his victory celebration. Skujins crossed the line with perhaps the best-ever celebration in memory, combining shadow boxing with what can be only be described as the “Skujins Victory Dance.” There was so much emotion, so much love, and so much happiness. It outfoxed all other race finishes this year for me!
Tirreno Adriatico, Stage 6
Sheree: This was an exciting, seat-of-the-pants, nail-biting finish because of the rider who finished second, not first! Peter Sagan produced the day’s outstanding performance for the way he avoided crashing into Fernando Gaviria who went down in front of him with just 7km to go. Sagan made a rapid bike change and then chased madly back to the peloton, deftly aided by teammate Daniel Oss. Sagan bunny-hopped a kerb to take a direct line at a roundabout with 2km to go and somehow made sure he was on Marcel Kittel’s wheel as the peloton reached the final kilometre to prepare for the sprint finish. He tried to come around Kittel but the German had timed his sprint to perfection. Sagan has pulled off some incredible sprints and unbelievable bike moves during his career but this was arguably his best, even if it only gave him his third second place in this year’s Tirreno-Adriatico.
Midge: So many race finishes have left me breathless and hoarse, but I think for sheer excitement it has to be La Classicissima – the only Monument with a beautifully balanced parcours that allows many to dream of glory. When Vincenzo Nibali made his move just before the crest of the Poggio, I don’t think many thought he could stay away for the remaining 7km – I know I didn’t. One breakneck, seat-of-his-pants descent later and the belief grew along with his gap. He hit the Via Roma pedalling like fury, a tiny blur of scarlet and gold with the massed ranks of sprinters leading the charge behind him. Oh, that finish is agonisingly long and they closed fast, but not fast enough. His Nibs had time to get his arms in the air before falling into arms of a jubilant tifosi. An extraordinary finish from an extraordinary rider.
Dubai Tour, Stage 4, Hatta Dam
Euan: The Hatta Dam stage of the Dubai Tour has stayed with me all season. I thought something would better it but it has remained the most exciting race finish of 2018 in my head.
The day’s main break looked doomed as usual but Brandon McNulty of Rally Cycling kept going longer than expected. He held on so long, we had to start making those calculations, was he going to be caught? If so, when? And I started looking at what it would mean if McNulty won. It would be his biggest career victory and a win very early in his team’s first season at Pro-Conti level. If McNulty could see it out, it would change the fortunes of many.
And then he hit the slopes to the Hatta Dam. McNulty didn’t have the legs. I mean he really didn’t have the legs and the peloton engulfed him with a vicious speed. All my thoughts were with the young American who wasn’t even visible when Sonny Colbrelli crossed the line first.
It wasn’t a dream finish but for pure emotion nothing had beaten stage 4 of the Dubai Tour for me this year.
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