VeloVoices Awards 2019: Rivalry of the Year

Some rivalries are friendly – two riders who get the best out of each other on the road and are happy to share a beer afterwards. Others are perhaps a bit … sharper. Some were even rivalries within the same team. We’ve got a selection of both in the new category: Rivalry 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! 

Movistar v Movistar

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Kathi: You have to wonder what the world goes on in the Movistar team bus. “Right, today we’re going to attack on the big climb, launch Nairo with the support of Alejandro.” Somehow, it seems to be interpreted as “Right, today we’re going to attack Nairo on the big climb, so make sure you support Alejandro!” Movistar kept going back to the (flawed) formula of having three leaders but the hopes of a three-pronged attack were only ever realised when the three prongs attacked each other. It was a crazy Grand Tour season with the Movistarlets, that’s for sure – not least because even with the dysfunctional team tactics, they managed to win the Giro and take second in the Vuelta. You have to wonder what they might have been able to do if they were more about working together.

Bora v Sam Bennett

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Luke: After being left off Bora Hansgrohe’s Giro d’Italia and Tour de France rosters, it was unsurprising to see Sam Bennett looking for the door at the end of the year. Particularly with QuickStep knocking on said door after Bennett racked up 13 wins this year. What is more surprising, though, was Bora’s insistence that Bennett extended his contract back in May and refusal to let the Irishman leave, despite the team’s stacked sprint roster. It was only recently, after a drawn out legal battle, when Bora released a contentious statement releasing Bennett from the team.

Rohan Dennis v Bahrain Merida

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Euan: When Dennis quit the Tour de France it would have been a run-of-the-mill climb off… if Bahrain Merida hadn’t started tweeting about how they didn’t know where he was or why he had quit! Suddenly the two sides of the rivalry came into view – Dennis was being a prima donna, the team are throwing their weight around unfairly. I don’t think anyone thought he’d hang around after that and it came to pass the team fired him.

On the plus side, they agreed to keep the termination private while Dennis competed in the world championships [where he won his second consecutive rainbow jersey]. On the downside they announced it the second that Mads Pedersen cross the line to win the road race.

Alaphilippe v Fuglsang

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Midge: What’s better than watching one of your favourite riders racing well? Watching two of them racing against each other at the very top of their form. Cometh the spring, cometh the rivalry of Julian Alaphilippe and Jakob Fuglsang. Four races, seven podium places and three victories between them. A rivalry fuelled by very different attacking styles. LouLou’s blistering explosive finish saw him take top step at both Strade Bianche and La Fleche Wallone. Birdsong better suited to a longer day of climbing finally held his arms aloft at Leige-Bastogne-Liege. A rivalry that only once got the better of both them when they took their eye of the race and focused on each other at the Amstel Gold Cup. I loved that they were always willing to work together to shake their rivals then went mano a mano at the finish. A rivalry based on mutual respect, and that’s the best kind.

Wout van Aert v Mathieu van der Poel

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Sheree: The rivalry between Mathieu van der Poel and Wout van Aert started when they were young at the Junior 2012 UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships and it’s continued unabated ever since. You’ve only got to look at the Pro Cycling Stats summary where Van der Poel has emerged victorious (55% v 45%) this year at least. This rivalry has legs and will run and run.

Kirsten Wild v Lorena Wiebes

Lukas: The women’s sprint rivalry. In the spring classics, Wiebes turned out to be the only rider close to Wild, but she lost to the older sprinter both in De Panne and Wevelgem. The same happened at the Healthy Ageing Tour where Wild won a stage, but Wiebes didn’t. It then took until August for their paths to cross again, at the RideLondon Classique. The race parcours, flat laps around The Mall, may be thoroughly unexciting, but it makes for what can be considered the women’s unofficial sprinters’ world championships. Again, Wild was first across the line with Wiebes in second place, but Wild was relegated for causing a big crash that brought down over a dozen riders. Finally, in the Boels Ladies Tour, Wiebes showed that she could beat Wild outright, winning two stages in a row, both times with Wild as runner-up.

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