21. Rigoberto Uran
30, Colombia, Cannondale-Drapac
There was no sign during his quiet start to the season that Rigoberto Uran would be anything other than his usual solid but unremarkable self come the Tour de France. But he transcended himself there – he was most consistent of Froome’s challengers, managing to not put a foot wrong throughout the three weeks to finish second overall, while also landing himself a stage win in Chambery.
22. Sergio Henao
30, Colombia, Team Sky
Sergio Henao was arguably in the form of his life during the spring, bossing his way to overall victory at a competitive Paris-Nice as well as being one of the most consistent riders at the Ardennes Classics, all after being crowned Colombian National Champion. He was a little short of his best at the Tour, but still played a key role in Chris Froome’s victory.
23. Kasia Niewiadoma
23, Poland, WM3 Pro Cycling
For most of the season Niewiadoma showed flashes of her enormous potential without quite reaching the next level, challenging at the spring Classics, Giro Rosa and World Championships but not actually winning any of them. However, the one race she did win, the Women’s Tour – where the Pole embarked on a huge solo attack to set up overall victory – was a spectacular triumph.
24. Matteo Trentin
28, Italy, Quick-Step Floors
For the final few months of the season, Matteo Trentin was the most prolific rider in the peloton. He won literally every stage that culminated in a bunch sprint at the Vuelta a España, finished an impressive fourth at the Worlds, and rounded off his season with victory at Paris-Tours. Such improvement merits increased status and leadership opportunities, which he’s sure to find at his new team in 2018, Mitchelton-Scott.
25. Romain Bardet
27, France, Ag2r-La Mondiale
Though Romain Bardet’s run-up to the Tour was not quite as smooth as in 2016, the outcome was pretty much the same as he once again made the podium. The experiment of riding two Grand Tours didn’t quite work as the Frenchman bombed at the Vuelta, but he does now look just an improved time trial away from potentially winning the yellow jersey.
26. Alberto Contador
35, Spain, Trek-Segafredo
Alberto Contador’s final season was packed with as much drama as we’ve come to expect from ‘El Pistolero’. First there was a run of second place finishes in the springtime WorldTour stage races; then a resolute yet erratic performance at the Tour for ninth overall; and finally, his spectacular farewell ride at the Vuelta, culminating in a fairytale finish through victory on the Angliru.
27. Alexander Kristoff
30, Norway, Katusha-Alpecin
It’s testament to Alexander Kristoff’s reliability that he can fall out with his team yet still tally up nine wins over the season, including the RideLondon-Surrey Classic. He didn’t quite have enough in the biggest races, though, falling just short at the Worlds to earn the silver medal, and settling for top five finishes at Milan-San Remo, the Tour of Flanders and in five Tour de France sprints.
28. Ilnur Zakarin
28, Russia, Katusha-Alpecin
Any doubts that Ilnur Zakarin lacked what it takes to convert his flashes of brilliance into sustained challenges at Grand Tours were comprehensively dispelled this season, as he pulled off not one but two top five finishes – first at the Giro, where he steered clear of danger to finish fifth, then at the Vuelta, where he steadily rose up the rankings to make the podium.
29. Warren Barguil
26, France, Team Sunweb
That Warren Barguil’s season ended on such a sour note, with the Frenchman being kicked off the Vuelta by his own team for not following instructions, should not overshadow how much he thrilled us all during the summer. He was the most entertaining rider at the Tour, and was rewarded for his swashbuckling attacking with two stage wins, a top-10 finish and the polka-dot jersey.
30. Jakob Fuglsang
32, Denmark Astana
One of the most surprising results of 2017 was Jakob Fuglsang’s overall victory at the Critérium du Dauphiné. It marked a successful return to leadership duties after several seasons working mostly as a super-domestique for Vincenzo Nibali, and suggested that the 32-year old was still capable of challenging the world’s best. The only disappointment was a crash that denied him the chance to ride for GC at the Tour.