VeloVoices Awards 2019: Best Race Finish

Cycling fans had so much to celebrate this season – great Monument wins, hard-fought and fabulous Grand Tours, and everything in between. Here is the team’s picks for Race Finish of the Year.

Voting ends on 14 December 2019 at 11.59PM, GMT. If you think there’s someone who should be on the list, there’s a write-in option on the poll at the bottom of the post! 

Julian Alaphilippe breathes life into Stage 13, TDF

Luke: No one is a fan of a time trial, and I wasn’t a fan of Julian Alaphilippe before Stage 13. Watching him zip through the course, splendid in yellow, however, as he defied odds to keep the maillot jaune both made me a lifelong fan of the mustachioed Frenchman as well as breathed life into often boring time trials. There’s nothing more to it than that.

Thibaut Pinot conquers the Tourmalet, St 14, TdF 

Kathi: This year’s Tour de France seems to have brought out the best in Thibaut Pinot, after a lot of misfirings over the past few editions. With Alaphilippe in yellow, the French fans had a lot to celebrate and to have Pinot take stage 14 by the scruff of the neck and finish first over the line on one of the most iconic climbs made everyone sit up and think … could this be the year of a French winner? Although it was not to be, this stage win by one of my favourite riders had me in tears of joy.

Meanwhile, Marc Madiot goes absolutely crazy – even by his standards! Blimey, it’s a wonder the poor man didn’t do himself an injury!

Alexey Lutsenko keeping his cool, Tirreno-Adriatico, Stage 4

Midge: The one where Astana’s Alexey Lutsenko broke clear with 40km to go. Crashed with 12km to go. Got back on his bike still in the lead. Crashed again just before the flamme rouge. Was caught by Primoz Roglic, Adam Yates and teammate Jakob Fuglsang. Kept his cool and took victory in a four up sprint. I still can’t believe it now. WHAT A STAGE!

Michael Woods wins Milano-Torino 

A relentlessly attacking Michael Woods won the centenary Milano-Torino in a sprint finish, his first one-day race victory and fourth professional win, having previously finished runner-up in 2016. Approaching the race-defining Superga climb a second time, Astana and EF Education were driving from the front of the peloton. Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) accelerated, drawing Adam Yates (Mitchelton Scott) and Rusty Woods. Then it was Woods’ turn to hit the gas with 4km left, Ion Izagirre (Astana) and Jack Haig (Mitchelton Scott) grabbing his wheel. Woods accelerated away again with 2.7 km to go but David Gaudu (Groupama FDJ) came across the gap. A high-powered chase comprising Egan Bernal (Ineos), Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), Yates, Haig and Izagirre hooked up with Gaudu and Woods with 1.8km remaining. Woods surged again and once more Gaudu made the junction. At the red kite, the duo had an six-second lead on the chasers, but the road flattened and it came together again. Gaudu dug in with 600metres to the line. Woods hit it with 350metres to go and (rather surprisingly) Valverde couldn’t close him down. At the line, the Canadian even had time to celebrate.

Amstel Gold – both of them!

Both Lukas and Euan picked the men’s Amstel Gold race, while Lukas made a day of it by adding the women’s race to that! 

Lukas:  It was just a spectacular race day in April. First, in the women’s race, Kasia Niewiadoma was always among the best on the Cauberg. On the fourth and final time, the Polish puncheur finally got away from an elite group of 15 riders, but had (then) time trial world champion Annemiek van Vleuten in hot pursuit on the last 1800 metres. Van Vleuten came closer and closer, but Kasia dug deep and had just enough to stay ahead over the finish line.

And then came the men’s race. Unlike the women, they didn’t go up the Cauberg in the final. Instead, the Bemelerberg was the last hill, followed by just under seven kilometres of narrow, rolling roads. Julian Alaphilippe and Jakob Fuglsang had been in front for a long time, and after the Bemelerberg, the Dane stopped working with the musketeer who would have eaten him for breakfast in a sprint. Instead, Fuglsang attacked several times to shake off Alaphilippe, but without success. Meanwhile, the real action was a bit further behind where Mathieu van der Poel almost single-handedly brought his group back in contention.

Onto the final kilometre. Mikal Kwiatkowski reached and passed Fuglsang and Alaphilippe who went into the Pole’s wheel with 500 metres to go. Van der Poel, with eight riders in his slipstream, was now very close. Alaphilippe launched his sprint just before the Dutch champion made the catch, but the phenomenon that is Van der Poel had one last kick left in his legs … and that was just enough to speed past Alaphilippe on the final 150 metres to take the victory. Wow.

Euan: This had everything. Two riders who were having a great classics season and would go on to have their best every seasons duking it out for the win – with a chasing bunch bearing down on them – although due to wonky timing we didn’t know how quickly. Van der Poel ended up taking the win on the line – the most thrilling finish of the year. Let’s be honest the Amstel Gold race is often a footnote on the season – this year it needs top billing.

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