Discover Cycling Weekly readers' most loved and most hated people, and more...

The 2014 Cycling Weekly Reader Poll is our biggest yet, with the highest number of votes of any we’ve run so far. We’ve painstakingly sifted through the results, analysed the data and can report that there are several major surprises and a few upsets.

For a start, there’s a new name at the top of the Villain of the Year leaderboard for the first time since we started running our annual poll…

World Road Championships - Mens TTHeroic Bradley Wiggins took the time trial world title

Hero of the Year

1 Sir Bradley Wiggins
2 Adam Yates
3 Alberto Contador
Last year’s winner: Chris Froome

Your love affair with Sir Bradley Wiggins continues, as he becomes your hero of 2014. No Olympic or Tour de France titles for Wiggo this year, but the time trial world title and a win in the Tour of California were enough to clinch this category. Of course, being a hero is much more than just results, and Wiggins can always be relied upon to offer something different to the typical, by-numbers pro sportsperson — a juicy quote here, an unexpected haircut there.

At 22, Adam Yates proves that you don’t have to be old to be a hero. In his first year as a fully fledged pro for Orica-GreenEdge, Yates won the Tour of Turkey and put in top 10 placings in the Tour of California and Critérium du Dauphiné. There’s so much more to come. Alberto Contador rounds out the top three, having redeemed himself for that dodgy steak in 2010.

Honourable mentions: Marianne Vos and Lizzie Armitstead were tied on the number of votes they received, and were only just behind Contador. Notably down this year was Mark Cavendish, who was beaten by the likes of Taylor Phinney and Nairo Quintana.

Max Iglinskiy on stage three of the 2014 Tour of Oman Max Iglinskiy on stage three of the 2014 Tour of Oman

Villain of the Year

1 Maxim and Valentin Iglinskiy
2 Lance Armstrong
3 The UCI
Last year’s winner: Lance Armstrong

Lance Armstrong’s reign as your Villain of the Year ends, as the cheating Texan slips down to second place behind a new duo of blood-boosting dopers, Maxim and Valentin Iglinskiy. The Kazakh brothers both failed a test for EPO during 2014, and have brought their Astana team’s WorldTour licence under scrutiny from the UCI. The stupidity of doping gets short shrift from Cycling Weekly readers, and quite right too. There’s simply no place for anyone who wins a race by sticking a needle in their arm.

Which brings us to… Armstrong. The not-seven-times-Tour-winner continues to sulk that he has been unfairly treated, and that everyone doped and… yawn, goodness, is that the time? We really must be moving on. Despite a change in president from Pat McQuaid to Brian Cookson, the UCI still features in your voting as a villain.

Honourable mentions:
Always some good answers to this one. Here are a selection: “The two wallies having fisticuffs at the Vuelta”, “Specialized bikes with their bullying of Cafe Roubaix”, “Ricardo Ricco dealing EPO for sportives in a McDonald’s car park” and finally, “I don’t do villains” — a noble answer, but not much fun.


voigt5-1000x666Jens Voigt: your most popular Tweeter

Most entertaining cycling tweeter

1 Jens Voigt
2 David Millar
3 Mark Cavendish
Last year’s winner Mark Cavendish

German veteran Jens Voigt made sure his final season as a professional bike racer was one to remember. Sure, there were the trademark fruitless attacks, excitable interviews and shouts of “shut up legs” but there was also Voigt’s Hour record. Whatever he does, Voigt tweets along with good humour. Snapshots of pro cycling are interspersed with that of his family life, slightly suspect DIY projects and menagerie of pets.

Fellow 2014 retiree David Millar is your second-favourite tweeter, offering a slightly more high-brow analysis of life in and out of the saddle. Mark Cavendish makes his sole appearance in a top three in this year’s CW poll, although we have to say that his twitterings have toned down a touch since the early days.

Honourable mentions: CW’s own Dr Hutch was up there in the voting, proving that social media has an appetite for 140-character-based discussions of gear ratios and aerodynamics. Geraint Thomas, Marcel Kittel, UK Cycling Expert, Ned Boulting and Oleg Tinkov all got a few votes each.

Shimano R785 disc brake Shimano’s R785 disc brake for road bikes

Best new cycling product

1 Hydraulic disc brakes on road bikes
2 Shimano Ultegra 11-speed
3 Pinarello Dogma F8
Last year’s winner: Disc brakes for road bikes

This year’s best new cycling product is the same as last year’s, which makes you wonder how ‘new’ it really is. In defence of the votes, there was a bit of a false start for hydraulic disc brakes on road bikes after SRAM suffered problems and an expensive recall of its system. Now, though, we’re seeing far more complete bikes being produced with discs and the tide could be turning in favour of the hydro stoppers on the road.

Shimano’s updated 11-speed Ultegra drivetrain is in second. It offers so much more than just an extra sprocket: shifting is lighter and crisper. The Ultegra range is also
creeping into bikes priced around £1,200, meaning top-class shifting is within reach of most of us. Pinarello’s Dogma F8 model caused a stir when its swooping lines were revealed prior to the Tour de France, and it was your third choice.

Honourable mentions: Garmin’s 810 and 1000 GPS computers were popular new additions to its line-up, and the Specialized S-Works McLaren Tarmac was one of the year’s most stunning bikes and gained admirers. An unidentified product also attracted attention: “Not sure what it is called, but Astana use it,” said one of our more cynical readers.

RideLondon-Surrey 100 2014RideLondon 100 was wet, but still your favourite sportive of 2014

Favourite British sportive

1 RideLondon 100
2 Fred Whitton Challenge
3 Cycling Weekly Box Hill Original
Last year’s winner: RideLondon 100

Despite being shortened to 86 miles due to adverse weather conditions, the RideLondon 100 was once again voted best British sportive. It’s certainly one of the biggest — 25,000 signed up for the 2014 event. RideLondon’s appeal is obvious as it gives riders a rare chance to ride on closed roads in the capital, following much of the route of the London 2012 Olympic Games road race that also takes in some of the best bits of the Surrey countryside.

The tough Fred Whitton Challenge around the Lake District in May is in second place. ‘The Fred’ is a gruelling ride that is more akin to European Gran Fondos than the vast majority of UK events. Our own Box Hill Original sportive comes in third place. We’re blushing.

Honourable mentions: There are hundreds of events on the sportive calendar, and many of you have your own personal favourites to vote for, including the Dragon Ride, Tour Ride, Dartmoor Classic and New Forest 100. However, a sizeable 48 per cent of voters said they simply did not have a favourite sportive.

Favourite international sportive

1 Paris-Roubaix sportive
2 Etape du Tour
3 Tour of Flanders sportive
Last year’s winner: Etape du Tour

The mighty Etape du Tour has been toppled as your fave international event, replaced by the Paris-Roubaix sportive that offers riders the chance to take on the feared cobbled sectors of the professional race. It’s as much of a challenge for you and your bike to finish the event in one piece as it is to post a decent time.

The Etape du Tour sits in second spot, though its over-subscription can mean you have to wait years to actually take part in riding the route of one of the Tour de France’s mountain stages, which this year was from Pau to Hautacam. The Tour of Flanders sportive is third most popular. Like the other two events, it offers regular riders the chance to follow in the pros’ tyre treads.

Honourable mentions:
Stand-out also-rans include the Marmotte, Maratona dles Dolomites and Haute Route Pyrenees events — all worthy mass-participation rides set in beautiful scenery that prove you are an adventurous lot.

  • Roger

    I agree. Things started to go downhill when they changed the name from Cycling to Cycling Weekly in the mid-1980s.

  • ian franklin

    Have a great year Tony and enjoy your cycling. Thanks!

  • Tony Short

    Thanks Ian. We’ll leave it at that. Best wishes

  • ian franklin

    You cannot lump Armstrong in with all of this. His case was different: he is a sociopath (you may see my previous comments about this) and as such he has a mental disability. Having worked for many years with mental health issues I am largely sympathetic to the illness though not to the outcomes. And yes, I do get annoyed when people who profess to love this sport are continually harping on about dopers – as if that is the only thing that defines pro cyclists. I won’t repeat my experience of the 1960s in public but if you knew what I went through then you’d understand that I cannot abide doping. Sportive riders (apologies for lumping you) that I have met all seem to take a holier than thou attitude towards pro riders and amateur racers alike. They pontify yet know nothing. As you have guessed I have been in this sport many years and will defend it to the hilt. I believe that today’s peloton is largely clean and I also believe that in any walk of life once someone has been convicted and penalised and have served that penalty then that should be the end. If that person reoffends then severe penalties should apply. That’s why I defend Contador and I believe that CW had every right to include him in the piece and in the way that you criticised. Let’s move on from Contador but not from people who are still falsifying their performances. There are certain cultural groups who in every walk of life lie and cheat their way through life. I live in Thailand and I see that all the time. As a coach I had to drop one of my youth trainees because her father was feeding her steroids and really thought there was nowt wrong with that. If I misunderstood you, apologies.

  • Tony Short

    Ian I think it’s getting intellectually dishonest to start calling me “boy” as though your age has anything to do with the argument. It would also be helpful if you dealt what I actually said rather than setting up strawmen to attack. For instance I didn’t say that all pros are cheating as you suggest, I said that most of the grand tours and classics going back decades had beeen won by self confessed dopers or those who had positive tests. I also gave a list of household names who were dopers. I did this to support my assersion that pro cycling was a festival of cheating. As to whether the likes of Coppi, or Tommy Simpson were morally as bad as say Lance Armstrong, I agree they weren’t, but then I’m pretty sure that everytime they popped a pill they knew they were gaining an unfair advantage over the riders who didn’t.
    To go on to discuss the pros you know personally and their experiences, like you I will take them at face value. But what I would say is that Lance Armstrong (in common with most dopers) protested his innocence right until the very last minute he got busted. That someone claims something isn’t the same thing as proof.
    Finally, I don’t ride in sportives so not sure why you’ve lumped me in with them, even though that wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing, unless you’re just trying to argue from authority because you used to be “proper” racer. I see from reading some of your other comments that you are critical of Lance Armstrong so I’m sure we’re actually on the same side in that we want clean racing and results we believe in.

  • ian franklin

    I think you are teaching your grandmother to suck eggs. I raced in France in the 1960s. I know what I saw. If you really think that all pros are ‘cheating’ then you are doing a great disservice to those who are not. I have an ex- Belkin rider staying in my home at the moment. I know his views and how sickened he was by some from the Rabobank Team. I know he was clean and I know other riders from the pro peloton who would no more use drugs than you would throw yourself under a bus. So please, go an lecture another poor soul.

  • Tony Short

    Ian it’s a shame that rather than engaging with the point you suggest that I go and find another sport instead. Isn’t that a bit like sticking your fingers in your ears and going la, la, la very loudly? If pro cycling isn’t a festival of cheating then I’d very much like to know what you would consider it, given that the list of doped athletes who have won it’s most prestigious events and grand tours include most of it’s biggest names. Names like Fausto Coppi, Eddie Merckx, Jaques Anquetil, Floyd Landis, Lance Armstrong, Marco Pantani, and Bjarne Riis. I could go on but for anyone in any doubt about how endemic the problem of doping is in the peloton then they need only to consult google for a list as long as your arm going back decades. I don’t pretend that cycling is alone in this but it keeps some pretty bad company when you look at other sports high on the list of positive tests such as weightlifting and 100m sprinting. Neither do I suggest that all pros are doing it or that the problem hasn’t improved post the Armstrong affair but I think it naiive to suggest it still isn’t a massive issue for the sport.

  • ian franklin

    If you really think that cycling is a festival of cheating, then I suggest you find another sport.

  • Tony Short

    Ian I’m not chasing or harrassing anyone. I’m making the legitimate observation on a public comment forum that Contador failed a drugs test and only served a partial ban. Cycling’s reputation is deservedly in the gutter following decades of doping scandals and the apparent indifference to drug use and cheating from it’s governing body. I see you’ve co opted everyone else onto your side of the argument by suggesting that “most people have moved on and appreciate the sport for what it is”. And what is pro cycling exactly? A festival of cheating from where I’m sitting, or certainly all the evidence points to it being that way for many, many years. Certainly the publics reaction the this years TDF would suggest that they are keener than ever on cycling but it doesn’t mean that the sport is any cleaner or that drug cheats should be able to serve pitifully short bans and then carry on earning fortunes whilst we all pretend to look the other way.

  • ian franklin

    If you are happy chasing people who have been through due process and harassing them like this then that’s up to you Tony. Most other people just move on and appreciate the sport for what it is.

  • Tony Short

    He didn’t serve much of a ban though did he Ian? And regardless of how marginal you think it was, he had a banned substance in his blood. Personally I put his excuse of eating contaminated beef up there with Richard Nixons “I am not a crook” and Clintons “I did not have sexual relations with that woman”. I guess there were people that believed them too.

  • ian franklin

    Most people would agree that Contador’s case was somewhat marginal. However, he served his time and should now be free to move on with his life.

  • Tony Short

    If the stupidity of doping receives short shrift from CW readers as you suggest, then how come Contador is on the list of heroes and not villains? Personally I can’t believe any of his performances and would’ve banned him for life with all the other cheats.

  • ian franklin

    The daft thing is that they could dramatically increase their circulation if they covered ALL of cycling, including sportives. I read this mag (and worked on it in the 60s) all my life and two years ago had to cancel my sub because there was just nothing in the magazine for me.

  • Lee Morgan

    Very true, years gone by I couldn’t wait to get CW to see the results from around the country but now just talks about sportives each edition. Sort it out CW and I might start buying your mag again.

  • ian franklin

    Villain of the year must be Sportive Weekly’s editor, surely? Nice magazine, used to be about cycling but now only covers one facet of the sport. Wake up guys, Tell Mr Villain that people race on the road and track, ride time trials, do cyclo cross and that the sport is alive and well in the UK. And, yes, cover sportives too if you have to, but also cover the races.