VeloVoices Awards 2018: Rider of the Year (Men)

This prestigious award is not decided on by mere trifles such as UCI points or pay slips. Like our regular Rider of the Race accolade, this title goes to the rider who has leapt out and grabbed us with his panache, made us laugh, made us cry and most of all made us LOVE this sport.

Previous winners: 2012 – Bradley Wiggins; 2013 – Peter Sagan; 2014 – Michal Kwiatkowski; 2015 – Peter Sagan; 2016 – Peter Sagan; 2017 -Tom Dumoulin

Primoz Roglic

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Euan: 2018 was the year Primoz Roglic really started racking up the results. He won three big stage races in a row over the spring and summer – the Tour of the Basque Country, the Tour de Romandie and the Tour of Slovenia. He followed those up by grabbing a magnificent stage win at the Tour de France and 4th place overall. However, it’s not just the Slovenian’s results that are impressive, he has style in bucketloads too. Sure, he can time trial but he isn’t one for holding on over the mountains only to grab the time on an ITT. He likes to get competitive on the climbs and rides with a Lotto-Jumbo team that are happy to take races by the scruff of the neck. Roglic isn’t happy to sit back and watch what others do, he loves his attacking.

Oh, and did you know he used to be a ski-jumper? (YES! says everyone)

Julian Alaphilippe

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Kathi: Julian Alaphilippe really took his racing to another level this season. Backed by an almost invincible Quick-Step team, he won one-day races (Fleche Wallonne, Clasica de San Sebastian), week-long stage races (Tour of Britain and Tour of Slovakia) and a hard-fought King of the Mountains jersey in the Tour de France. All in all, he won eight stages throughout the season, including the first two TdF stages of his career (because we all know there will be many more of those …). But there was also his cheerful attitude, his sportsmanship (wanting to wait for Adam Yates who crashed on a descent on stage 16 but his DS shouting ‘go go go go go!’) and overall his joie de vivre. Possibly the only shadow on a sterling season was his tilt at the World Championships as one of the big favourites for the rainbow stripes, but which did not come to fruition. One day …

Elia Viviani

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Luke: It’s hard to look past Italy’s Elia Viviani for the Male Rider of the Year. After battling his way through Team Sky, where successes were limited given the squad’s Grand Tour ambitions, Viviani stormed into the Quick-Step wheelhouse to replace Marcel Kittel and stamp his authority atop the Belgian powerhouse’s vast array of sprinters. Viviani held his winning prowess throughout the season, beginning with Stage 3 of the Tour Down Under and ending with Stage 21 of the Vuelta a Espana. With 18 victories in 2018, Viviani won an unfathomable 24% of QuickStep’s murderous 75 wins this year.

Simon Yates

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Sheree: In 2011, Simon Yates took his first stage win at the Tour de l’Avenir, deemed a bell-weather of future potential. This year, the 26-year-old Brit riding for Mitchelton-Scott, confirmed that potential when he won the Vuelta a Espana. The transition from targeting a top-10 finish overall, and – as was Yates’s case – the young rider’s jersey, to going for overall victory is not to be underestimated. It’s a delicate balancing act: gaining time at key moments while not risking excessive time losses, on any given day or in the days that lie ahead. Three months’ earlier in the Giro d’Italia, he had spectacularly failed to husband his resources but it seems this has taught him to curb and control his attacking instincts. And, unlike this year’s other grand tour winners, he has time on his side to add to his grand tour palmares. With this victory, Yates became the first Brit ever to top the UCI WorldTour rankings. He amassed 3,072 points through stage victories in Paris-Nice, the overall at Volta a Catalunya, three stage wins and thirteen days in the race lead at the Giro d’Italia, a stage win and runner’s-up spot at the Tour de Pologne and that Vuelta victory. Chapeau!

Michael Valgren

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Midge: 2018, the year of the Danes! No need to look further than Michael Valgren who demands a nomination with an outstanding season that saw him show that he is so much more than a fantastic diesel engine for Grand Tour leaders. He put his mark on the spring campaign with an Omloop victory that oozed race smarts and strength. Capped his cobbled season with 4th at Flanders and two weeks later finally lived up to all his Ardennes promise by claiming the top step at the Amstel Gold. Instrumental in Astana’s stage wins at the Tour de France he finished his season with second at the Bretagne Classic and a panachetastic exploit at the World Championship road race that left me breathless. Oh and a wedding – congratulations Mr and Mrs Valgren Andersen Hundahl.

You all know what would would make a fabulous wedding present, yes?

VOTE NOW! 

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

Featured Image: Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images

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