VeloVoices Awards 2012: Team of the Year

VVAwardYou’ve read the five of us discussing our thoughts on the 2012 season throughout the year. Now it’s time to make your voices heard as we open the voting for the inaugural VeloVoices Awards. Over ten days in ten categories – some serious, others less so – we’re asking you to select your choices of 2012. We’ll publish the final results in the run-up to Christmas. (Hopefully next year we’ll have a grand gala dinner in central London …)

Yesterday we revealed our shortlist for Rider of the Year. Today it’s the turn of our nominations for Team of the Year:

sdw-livestrong-photo_edited shereeSheree: I’ve loved the fact that Euskaltel-Euskadi has nurtured Basque (or Basque-trained) riders from cradle to grave and has given the sport’s most passionate fans something to rally behind. What would the Pyrenees be like without the hordes of Basque fans? Cycling fans around the world affectionately call them ‘The Carrots’ and should any of them fall [which happens rather a lot – Ed] the cry of “Carrot down!” goes out on Twitter. Surely, there’s not a more loved team than the boys in orange? That’s why they’re my team of the year. Sadly, they’re abandoning their all-Basque stance in 2013 for riders who can score points in a wider range of races than the all-Basque mountain goats.

Tim avatarTim: They’re not the most popular choice, I know, but Sky finished 2012 as the WorldTour’s top-ranked team by a margin. Of course, there was Wiggo and Chris Froome. But Mark Cavendish’s ‘unsuccessful’ season saw him win three stages at both the Giro and Tour. Edvald Boasson Hagen took a clutch of victories including the GP Ouest France and a silver at the Worlds. Richie Porte won the Volta ao Algarve. Colombians Rigoberto Uran and Sergio Henao were seventh and ninth at the Giro, and Uran won silver in the Olympic road race. There’s no denying either the results or the depth of talent here. In this case, the stats don’t lie.

kitty-fondueKitty: It should be Argos-Shimano. They were a notable presence in the majority of races this year, working hard to get that train on the tracks for both Marcel Kittel and John Degenkolb and even when they misfired, they misfired with all their hearts. They worked seamlessly as a team and had a joie de vivre that many of the bigger teams lacked. Their snowy white Argonaut suits were brilliant shafts of light cutting through the peloton, particularly in the Vuelta, where Degenkolb really came into his own as a sprinting force to be reckoned with. Great attitude, great guys, amazing results.

avatar jackJack: For me it’s the Belgian World Championships road race team. Over the past few years all of the pressure has been on Belgium’s team to deliver race favourite Philippe Gilbert to the rainbow jersey. Unfortunately it had never quite come together – until this year, that is. On the familiar Classics roads around Valkenburg they knew that this year would be as good a chance as they would get. And they certainly did not disappoint. As soon as Jurgen Roelandts, Bjorn Leukemans and company hit the front on the final ramp up to the finish line, there was only one winner. World Championships are notoriously difficult to control, but the Belgians did an outstanding job of dominating the race and sealing the victory.

Panache avatarPanache: The men of Omega Pharma-Quick Step had 54 road victories in 2012 by a variety of riders. What impresses me most is the number and variety of races they won, including the Tours of Qatar, Oman, Belgium and Beijing, Dwars door Vlaanderen, E3 Harelbeke, Gent-Wevelgem, Tour of Flanders, Paris-Roubaix and the World Championships team time trial. They also seemed to spread the victories throughout the team. They won with Boonen, Terpsta, Chavanel, Leipheimer, Velits, Chicchi, Martin – it just goes on and on. The only thing OPQS didn’t win was a three-week Grand Tour.

Tomorrow we’ll unveil our shortlist for Breakthrough Rider of the Year.

VeloVoices Awards 2012

Rider of the Year

VeloVoices Awards 2012: Rider of the Year

VVAwardYou’ve read the five of us discussing our thoughts on the 2012 season throughout the year. Now it’s time to make your voices heard as we open the voting for the inaugural VeloVoices Awards. Over ten days in ten categories – some serious, others less so – we’re asking you to select your choices of 2012. We’ll publish the final results in the run-up to Christmas. (Hopefully next year we’ll have a grand gala dinner in central London …)

We’re starting with the award for Rider of the Year. Our nominations are as follows:

Panache avatarPanache: One might question Bradley Wiggins’ haircut, his choice of words and his overall style but no one can question his results. He accomplished every one of his season goals by winning Paris-Nice, the Dauphiné, Romandie, the Tour de France and the Olympic gold medal in the time trial. He has bettered most successful careers in one season and established British cycling as the best in the world when it comes to Grand Tours.

sdw-livestrong-photo_edited shereeSheree: According to the UCI World Ranking, Cycling Quotient and Cycling Ranking, last year’s best rider was the pint-sized powerhouse Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) for the second time in three years. Only IG Markets [not exactly a disinterested party – Ed] had Bradley Wiggins in first place rather than second. Purito won two stages and placed second in the Giro, and won three stages and placed third in the Vuelta. This was book-ended by Classics victories at Flèche Wallonne and Il Lombardia. He was more consistent than Wiggins for longer and in a wider range of races. Does that make him the best? It does in my and a number of other books.

Tim avatarTim: I said at the start of the season that Peter Sagan was going to be one of the men to watch in 2012, and the 22-year old Slovak exceeded even my expectations. Three stage victories and the green jersey at the Tour de France. Five wins at the Tour of California, four at the Tour de Suisse and four top fives in the spring Classics, including podium finishes at Gent-Wevelgem and Amstel Gold. He’s competitive against even the fastest pure sprinters, he can climb with the Classics strong men and he does it all with a smile on his face. I don’t say this lightly: he is an astonishing talent.

kitty-fondueKitty: Tornado Tom Boonen swept everything and everyone before him in the spring Classics, putting on a show of power, finesse and guts that was second to none this season. His wins were sometimes cunning, sometimes brute power, sometimes sheer audacity and all of them were thrilling. But the main reason I believe he should be Rider of the Year is because the races he won were one-day races. There was no room for mistakes, no room for bad luck or stray bidons, no time trials to bank time. He had a strong team supporting him, but by the end of the race it was down to him and him alone to finish them off. And he did. Spectacularly.

avatar jackJack: Though he may not have clocked up as many wins as the other nominees, Vincenzo Nibali certainly rivals Rodriguez for all-round ability and consistency. Establishing his short and long stage race credentials by winning Tirreno–Adriatico and being the only rider willing to challenge Wiggins at the Tour, Nibbles’ podiums at Liège-Bastogne-Liège and Milan-San Remo reveal just what a talent he is. A podium at the Tour was a terrific way for the Italian to bow out of the Liquigas team at which he has been for six seasons. Had he had a bit more fortune, the Shark of Messina would have even more victories on his 2012 palmarès.

Tomorrow we’ll unveil our shortlist for Team of the Year.