11. Alejandro Valverde
37, Spain, Movistar
2017 wins: 11
Evergreen winning machine Alejandro Valverde‘s season was all the more remarkable because it came to an abrupt end on the opening stage of the 2017 Tour de France. The Movistar rider crashed on a corner and fractured his kneecap, immediately ruling him out for the rest of the race and scuppering the remainder of his season from July onwards.
Prior to that incident, Valverde had managed to rack up an array of wins that any rider would be proud of: Liège–Bastogne–Liège, Flèche Wallonne, Vuelta a Andalucía, Tour of the Basque Country and Volta a Catalunya.
In the case of Liège and Flèche it was the 37-year-old’s fourth and fifth win in then respectively, having first won both in the same season back in 2006.
Valverde will be back in 2018, riding alongside fellow Grand Tour star Nairo Quintana and new recruit Mikel Landa.
12. Coryn Rivera
25, USA, Team Sunweb
2017 wins: 4
Coryn Rivera’s first season in Team Sunweb saw the 25-year-old excel in some of the biggest races, ending the year with enviable victories in the Trofeo Alfredo Binda, Tour of Flanders, RideLondon-Surrey and a stage of her ‘home’ race, the Tour of California.
In addition, she assisted her team to a victory in the team time trial at the 2017 World Championships in Bergen, Norway.
Although billed as a sprinter, Rivera has proven that she is a far more versatile a rider than that label perhaps suggests and in future seasons she may not be given any leeway in the Classics.
13. Nairo Quintana
27, Colombia, Movistar
2017 wins: 6
Nairo Quintana headed into the 2017 season with a big challenge ahead, having committed to riding – and more importantly, aiming for – both the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France.
He put up a fight in the Giro, winning stage nine and engaging in a battle for the pink jersey with Tom Dumoulin that came down to the final time trial – which went in Dumoulin’s favour.
After having to settle for second in the Giro, Quintana then had a relatively short period to regain his strength before the Tour. However, it was soon apparent after the Tour kicked off that this was not Quintana at his best and he failed to finish in the top 10 – the first time in his four appearances in the race that he has not been on the podium.
Outside of Grand Tours, he won Tirreno-Adriatico and Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana. That overall Grand Tour win may be missing from his 2017 palmarès, but it was far from disappointing.
14. Michael Matthews
27, Australia, Team Sunweb
2017 wins: 4
When Michael Matthews left the Australian Orica squad for Team Sunweb, many wondered how the move would pan out. As it turned out, it went rather well.
Matthews enjoyed a solid Classics season and went into the Tour de France in flying form, claiming two stage wins and the coveted green jersey of points classification winner. Saying that Matthews had a better chance of grabbing the green jersey after five-time winner Peter Sagan was controversially ejected from the race probably does his efforts an injustice.
Outside of his Tour performance, Matthews also claimed stages of the Tour of the Basque Country and Tour de Suisse, and finished third in the World Championships road race.
15. Richie Porte
32, Australia, BMC Racing
2017 wins: 6
Richie Porte went into the 2017 season as one of Chris Froome’s key rivals for the Tour de France. Things started perfectly for Porte, too, with overall victory and two stage wins in the opening WorldTour race of the season – the Tour Down Under.
Then it was an overall win in the Tour de Romandie and a stage victory in Paris-Nice – all key events in the lead-up to the Tour.
And the Tour started well too, as Porte looked sharp in the opening week and was positioned in fifth overall behind Froome after stage eight.
On stage nine, Porte’s race came to an abrupt end as he crashed heavily on the descent of the Mont du Chat, abandoning due to his injuries. Despite a remarkable recovery and a return to competition in October, that was effectively Porte’s competitive season over with, leaving us to wonder what could have been.