VeloVoices Awards 2018: Surprise of the Year

We’ve certainly had some ‘what the heck’ moments during the action-packed racing this year. Here’s some moments that left the VeloVoices jaws on the floor. Let us know yours in the comments and VOTE NOW!

Previous winners: New Award

Chris Froome, Stage 19, Giro d’Italia

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Euan: Towards the end of the third week of the Giro, Chris Froome’s case looked hopeless. After stage 18 he was almost three and a half minutes behind the leader, Simon Yates. He’d crashed more often than Wall Street and looked a wan shadow of his usual self.

And then on stage 19, he sprung the biggest surprise of 2018. Froome and his team grabbed the race by the scruff of the neck and put all the other contenders in serious difficulty while looking like they were going for a Sunday ride through the park.

It’s hard to say what was most surprising about the stage. Was it that the rider who’d resembled a limping dog for two and a half weeks suddenly had the power of a lion? Was it that careful Team Sky threw away their normal game plan and instead took a massive risk that ripped the race apart?

You might have loved it or it may have made you feel a bit queasy but you have to say Froome’s performance on stage 19 of the Giro was the biggest surprise of 2018.

Romain Bardet at Strade Bianche

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Kathi: Who knew that out of the mud on the Tuscan roads that Romain Bardet would emerge as one of the most exciting one-day racers this season? Not me – but what it a sight to see! Unfettered by calculating risk and minimising damage, Bedhead jumped away from a sodden peloton full of favourites to bust Strade Bianche open, only seen by said favourites again when he was being hosed down with podium Prosecco. Always held up as one of France’s best bets for a Tour de France trophy (placing on the podium twice in the last three years), it’s easy to see why his name is so linked with stage racing, but this year, Bardet threw caution to the wind and rode without restraint, taking a thrilling second in Strade, silver at the World Championships and third in Liege-Bastogne-Liege. I say put a little more meat on those bones and have a crack at Flanders, Romain!

Greg Van Avermaet at the Tour de France

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Luke: No one would have judged him had Greg Van Avermaet relinquished the yellow jersey when the race hit the mountains on Stage 10 of the Tour de France. He had held the leader’s jersey since BMC won the team time trial on stage 3. Yet, he persisted. In a move that surprised many, Van Avermaet placed himself in the break and padded his overall lead on a day where many expected him to lose it. Kathi summed it up best in Podcast 125: “Certainly one of the riders that really won me over with this Tour was Greg Van Avermaet – in yellow from stage 3 before finally losing it after stage 11, got in the break when he was in yellow; when he lost yellow, he was still in the break, he was still working hard to make a show of his talents, even into week three.”

Elia Viviani’s season of success

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Sheree: At the start of the season, Olympic Omnium champion Elia Viviani moved from Sky to Quick-Step Floors where he’s just rounded off his best season ever with a win in the Gent Six Day event with teammate Iljo Keisse.

This year, the Italian has been the most prolific sprinter, racking up seven Grand Tour stage wins (four at the Giro, three at the Vuelta) as well as the Cyclassics Hamburg, the points jersey at the Giro, the Italian national road race, a stage at the Tour Down Under, the overall at the Dubai Tour and a host of other victories for which he gave credit to his team:

My thanks to the team for planning the year for me in the best way possible, and for all their support.

Even as he ends this season, he was already beginning to worry about how to repeat 2018 in 2019.

I need to start working soon, to be sure I hit the ground running.This was one of my best years, but I hope there will be more like it in the future.

Unsurprisingly, most of Viviani’s lead-out train are recognised for their sterling work in the Unsung Hero category of this year’s awards.

Mads Pedersen, Tour of Flanders

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Midge: Mads Pedersen is one of a pack of talented young Danes I’ve been raving about for years, but even I wasn’t expecting to see him to stand on the second step of the podium at his first Ronde Van Vlaanderen!!! The only rider able to stick with Niki Terpstra as he struck out for solo glory on the Oude Kwaremont and even when he was distanced, he would not give up. As the camera flitted between the winner and the fight for third, the Danish Champion gritted his teeth and rode to the line with panache and guts. “I just went full gas. I was fighting like I don’t know what to come back to him and keep the group behind me away. From then on, actually, I wasn’t thinking; I was just pushing the pedals.” It’s my stand out moment of the year.

VOTE NOW!

Poll is open until 11.59pm on 14 December – after which, stay alert for our Awards podcast! 

Featured Image: ©Getty Images/Velo/Tim de Waele 

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