Sometimes bike racing is more than just competing on two wheels. This new award celebrates endeavours that made us think, made a difference and inspired us to be better humans. Everyone on this list deserves to win this award – they’ve all won our hearts and admiration. Vote now – or if you think we missed an inspiring story in cycling this year, write it in!
Previous Years: New Award
Kathi: Take two friends, mix ingredients including tough mountain ascents and sketchy descents, a large sheepdog, social media and packed panniers for 8 days, flavour with dashes of anxiety for their professional futures, and what do you get? A renewed love of cycling just for fun, a new attitude toward possessions and a strong shot of optimism. Oh, and the unanimous love and support from cycling fans up and down the Twitterstream. Yes, it’s Larry Warbasse and Conor Dunne‘s #NoGoTour, which they embarked on after their team Aqua Blue was unceremoniously folded by its owner, leaving riders and staff adrift. They brought us all along with them and they brought us all back to an understanding of the freedom that cycling can bring, even in the face of adversity.
Lawson Craddock’s Tour de FranceEmbed from Getty Images
Luke: Prior to Lawson Craddock’s Tour de France in July, I had stopped writing about cycling for several years. I had lost inspiration to write and had moved on to other things. However, there was something about him continuing on for charity, even after breaking his scapula, that gave me inspiration. So much inspiration, in fact, that I reached out to VeloVoices to pitch a story [and we’re so glad you did, Luke! – ed]. I was so inspired by Craddock’s story that I emerged from writing retirement to write about how he was the hero of Le Tour.
Now, I won’t tell you that Lawson is more worthy of a vote than the #NoGoTour or the Homestretch Foundation. What I will tell you is that his story inspired fans far and wide to donate an astounding $280,000 to rebuild the Alkek Velodrome in Houston. I will tell you that his story brought the inspiration I needed to return to something that I cherish. Surely that’s enough to at least keep this story in contention.
Kathryn Bertine and the Homestretch Foundation
Sheree: I first met the amazing Kathryn Bertine at the 2007 Road World Championships where she was competing for St Kitts & Nevis while encouraging development of cycling on the islands. Since then, the former figure skater and triathlete, already an established writer, has become a film-maker and (even stauncher) advocate for women’s cycling, while continuing to compete professionally until last year after a serious, life-threatening crash. She was one of the co-founders of Le Tour Entier, an organisation which campaigned for the re-establishment of the Tour de France Feminin and was the catalyst for La Course by Le Tour de France.
In retirement she has set up The Homestretch Foundation and campaigns to level the playing field of salary discrepancy in sport, so that female professional athletes have the same wages and equal opportunities as male professional athletes and she continues to tirelessly campaign for equality across sport, particularly in cycling.
Midge: Everything changed for Stig Broeckx after a collision with a race motorbike at the Tour of Belgium in 2016 left him fighting for his life in a vegetative coma. The grit and determination common to all professional cyclists has seen him claw back his life, step by excruciating step. From breathing on his own and finding his voice, to leaving hospital and taking his first walk. All hurdles, setbacks and frustrations met with his no-nonsense ‘had to be done’ catchphrase. Each milestone has been hard fought and rightly celebrated with love and encouragement. His intensive physio has included cycling on rollers but one burning ambition has been to get back on his bike in the great outdoors. In November, he posted pictures on his Instagram account of just that. May the wind always be at your back, Mr Broeckx.
Tanja ErathEmbed from Getty Images
Lukas: Imagine just suddenly being a part of a world class bike racing team. That’s exactly the scenario Tanja Erath, a doctor and former triathlete, faced after she earned a spot on the Canyon-SRAM team via the Zwift Academy. Erath did a good job for the team when called upon, give her blog a read, it’s brilliant and honest. The end of the road season didn’t mean the end of competition. At the German track championships, she surprised everyone. Closely watching favourite Charlotte Becker, she followed the veteran’s attack and won a silver medal, showing that just about anything is possible.
Euan: Molly Weaver already had an inspiring story to tell. In 2017 she suffered serious injuries in a crash. She battled to come back, having to regain her form once her bones had healed. In 2018 she joined Trek-Drops but didn’t appear at a race after January.
In May, she revealed she was suffering from depression and taking a break from professional cycling. It must have been a tough thing to go public with but her announcement was met with nothing but warmth. Since then she’s been documenting her love for cycling and life on her social media as she readjusts to a new way of being.
Her line “it’s not weak to admit you’re struggling” should be widely shared. For her honesty and strength, Molly Weaver has been the most inspirational cyclist of 2018.
Poll is open until 11.59pm on 14 December – after which, stay alert for our Awards podcast!