Cycling’s transfer season is well and truly under way. With the rumour mill grinding, I’m taking a look at who’ll be where next year.
Stage 18: Burgos to Pena Cabarga, 186.5km, medium mountain
Considering what the guys have been through, especially in the Pyrenees, this stage must look almost easy. But that’s where it can get dangerous – one slip of concentration, someone gets too far up the road, and a podium place is put in jeopardy. Continue reading
You’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 Most Thrilling Moment of the Year. Today it’s the turn of our nominations for the Flop of the Year:
Jack: At risk of being lynched for anti-Wiggo sentiments, the Tour de France was the biggest disappointment in a mostly thrilling season. Sky undoubtedly rode a great race, systematically crushing the opposition, though the parcours – which placed far too much importance on time-trialling – ensured that Wiggins’ victory was all too easy. Likewise, the absence of Cadel Evans’ form and the absence of Alberto Contador and Andy Schleck completely meant there was never really any true competition. Vincenzo Nibali appeared to have the legs to compete man-for-man with Wiggins, but not the team to match Sky’s dominance. All of these factors conspired to make cycling’s most prestigious event a rather dull affair.
Panache: Normally I would award this to a current rider but Johan Bruyneel is just too ‘deserving’ to ignore. Here is a man who went from the responsibility of merging two of the best professional teams in the world at the beginning of the season to looking at a lifetime ban from cycling because of his doping legacy.
Sheree: Frandy aka Frank and Andy Schleck. Maybe I’m being harsh but this is a talented twosome who finished second and third on last year’s Tour podium. However, they seem to lack that necessary oomph to make it onto the top step with the regularity their talent deserves. It’s all style over substance with them. They ride better together than apart but have obvious weaknesses in their armoury – descending and time-trialling – that no amount of coaching seems to overcome. Do they not care or is it simply that they don’t listen? Who knows? But given the choice I would pick less talented riders prepared to graft. Possibly their Dad’s right, maybe cycling’s not for them.
Tim: Anyone remember who won the 2011 Vuelta a Espana? Anyone know how he fared this year? Quite. The answers are Juan Jose Cobo and ‘not very well’. He barely raced all year before finishing an anonymous 30th at the Tour. And although he was really always riding in support of Alejandro Valverde at the Vuelta rather than to defend his crown, he had already dropped himself out of contention before Valverde really needed him to sacrifice himself. He finished 67th and didn’t contribute much to the team effort at all in the mountains. The ultimate flash in the pan: a brilliant overachiever in 2011, but performed well below his level this year.
Kitty: Mark Renshaw. From being the best lead-out man in the business to attempting to be a sprinter in his own right to being kind of relegated to lead-out man again in the midst of the season with Rabobank, his plan backfired horribly. I absolutely respect him leaving Cav’s side and think he would have regretted it more if he never tried to be the big cheese, but it didn’t work out at all this season.
Tomorrow we’ll unveil our shortlist for our Lifetime Achievement Award.
VeloVoices Awards 2012