Riders 51-60 in our countdown of the 100 Best Road Riders of 2016
51. Dylan Groenewegen
23, Netherlands, LottoNL-Jumbo
One of the breakthrough successes of the season, the Dutch sprinter flourished in his his first season riding at WorldTour level for LottoNL-Jumbo, notching up a total of 11 wins including at British races the Tour of Britain and Tour de Yorkshire. Now aged 23, it won’t be long before we see him regularly competing in Grand Tour bunch sprints.
52. Jarlinson Pantano
27, Colombia, IAM Cycling
This time last year, Pantano was not especially well-known beyond frequenting the odd breakaway. That all changed this year, when, having signalled his form with fourth overall and a stage win at the Tour de Suisse, he became one of the stars of the Tour de France, getting into countless moves in the mountains with his restless attacking, and winning the stage into Culoz.
53. Jakob Fuglsang
31, Denmark, Astana
Vincenzo Nibali’s selfless right-hand man played a typically pivotal role in the Italian’s triumph at the Giro d’Italia, sticking with him during his struggles then helping to set-up his astonishing late comeback. Fuglsang later showed what he could do as a team leader when, riding for Denmark at the Olympics, he sprinted for silver in the road race.
54. Ian Stannard
29, Great Britain, Team Sky
The decision not to defend his Omloop Het Nieuwsblad title in order to peak later in the spring resulted in a third place for Stannard at E3 Harelbeke and, most significantly of all, a British record-equalling third at Paris-Roubaix – results that solidified his status as one of the best classics riders in the world.
55. Leah Kirchmann
26, Canada, Liv-Plantur
Kirchmann’s all round abilities are often rewarded in women’s racing and though she only scored two wins, her consistent performances saw her finish the year second in the WorldTour standings. Despite this being her first year full-time in Europe, early season results meant her team wisely extended her contract mid-season.
56. Niki Terpstra
32, Netherlands, Etixx-QuickStep
Not a year seems to go by without Terpstra picking up at least one major win, and this season the Dutch classics specialist was victorious at Le Samyn and the Eneco Tour overall. There were signs however that the 32-year old is passing his peak, as for the first time in four years he failed to podium at either of his two main primary targets, the Tour of Flanders or Paris-Roubaix.
57. Ilnur Zakarin
27, Russia, Katusha
A horrendous looking crash just days away from sealing a top five at the Giro d’Italia threatened to ruin the enigmatic Russian’s season, but he showed grit to return to racing and win a stage of the Tour de France. Elsewhere he demonstrated his formidable talent sporadically, out-sprinting Geraint Thomas to win the queen stage of Paris-Nice, and finishing an eyebrow-raising fifth at Liège-Bastogne-Liège.
58. Giacomo Nizzolo
27, Italy, Trek-Segafredo
Tempting though it is to dub Nizzolo the new JJ Rojas for his uncanny ability to regularly finish between second and fifth without ever seeming to win, the Trek-Segafredo’s sprinter enjoyed some very impressive results this season. Not only did he again win the points classification at the Giro and finish fifth at the Worlds, he also pulled off some wins at the Italian National Championships and a couple of Italian semi-classics.
59. Joaquim Rodriguez
37, Spain, Katusha
This season was supposed to be Rodriguez’s last before retirement, but he appears to have been tempted into delaying hanging his wheels up in 2017 by the new Bahrain-Merida squad. He will probably be happy with that, given he finished 2016 without a win.
Despite the lack of victories, it was a solid enough season with seventh place overall in the Tour de France and fifth in the Rio Olympics road race among a selection of top-10 results.
60. Louis Meintjes
24, South Africa, Lampre-Merida
To finish eighth overall at the Tour de France is a major achievement for any rider – to do so at the age of just 24 is the sign of a serious talent. Meintjes’ defensive riding style may have meant that he was not among the most visible riders of 2016, but he did manage other prestigious top tens in the Critérium du Dauphiné and the Olympics road race.