100 Best Road Riders of 2017: 51-60

Riders 51-60 in our countdown of the 100 Best Road Riders of 2017 - Photos by Yuzuru Sunada, unless otherwise stated

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51. Diego Ulissi

28, Italy, UAE Team Emirates

Diego Ulissi enjoyed a typically solid season, notching up an overall victory in the Tour of Turkey and claiming the Grand Prix Cycliste de Montréal – both WorldTour races. He also started the Tour de France for the first time in his career, finishing with an impressive 39th place overall. At 28-years-old, it’s possible that we have not seen the best from Ulissi yet as he continues to develop and find his strengths.

52. Adam Yates

25, Great Britain, Orica-Scott

What could have been had Adam Yates not been caught up in the controversial moto-caused crash at the Giro? He had to settle for ninth overall ultimately, a result indicative of a solid if unspectacular season in which he reiterated his potential with top fives at the Tours of Poland and Catalunya, and crashed out of Tirreno-Adriatico while lying second overall.

53. Wout Poels

30, Netherlands, Team Sky

The disappointment of missing out on Tour de France selection following an injury-disrupted start to the season was quickly overcome at the Vuelta, where a brilliant ride culminated in Poels finishing second on the Angliru, side-by-side with his team leader and overall winner Chris Froome. He even managed sixth overall on GC, the Dutchman’s first finish in a Grand Tour top-10.

54. Gianni Moscon

23, Italy, Team Sky

When Gianni Moscon wasn’t the subject of ugly headlines ranging from racial abuse to allegedly causing crashes, he was dropping jaws with his performances on the bike, finishing fifth at Paris-Roubaix, third at Il Lombardia, and climbing with the world’s best to help guide Froome to overall victory at the Vuelta. That’s an astonishing return for a 23-year old, but he needs to sort out his disciplinary problems.

55. Elisa Longo Borghini

25, Italy, Wiggle-High5

As ever, Borghini was an irrepressible force in the Classics, adding Strade Bianche to her ever-increasing number of big wins with a gutsy ride amid gloomy conditions. The 25-year old’s performance at the Giro Rosa was equally eye-catching, as she battled for a career-high second place overall in her home stage race with a resilience to suggest she can win it overall in the future.

56. Louis Meintjes

25, South Africa, UAE Team Emirates

Louis Meintjes might just be the spiritual heir to Haimar Zubeldia, such is his uncanny ability to finish high up in Grand Tour GCs without anyone noticing. This year he again sneaked his way to eighth overall at the Tour de France having finished in that exact place last year, and later registered a similarly stealthy 12th at the Vuelta.

57. Thomas De Gendt

31, Belgium, Lotto-Soudal

If Thomas de Gendt wasn’t already a cult hero, he certainly earned that title with his attacks at the Tour de France this year, which were so frequent that a mini-outrage met the commissaires’ decision not to award him the combativity award. A stage win at the Vuelta and another plus a spell as overall leader at the Dauphiné more than made up for that snub.

58. Simon Spilak

31, Slovenia, Katusha-Alpecin

Anyone who only watches the Grand Tours are still unlikely to know who Simon Spilak is, as his dislike of the format means he continues to skip them. The Slovenian’s talent for week-long stage races is nonetheless indisputable, and this year he won a second career Tour de Suisse overall title with a perfect all-round display of climbing and time trialling.

59. Mikel Nieve

33, Spain, Team Sky

Was Mikel Nieve the most underrated of Chris Froome’s henchmen? Aside from Christian Knees, he was the only constant in the Sky squads that won both the Tour and the Vuelta, and in both races the Spaniard could be depended on to survive until near the summit of all the decisive climbs. He’ll be sorely missed when he heads to Orica-Scott next season.

60. Ellen van Dijk

30, Netherlands, Team Sunweb

The best moments of the season for the peloton’s most fearsome rouleur arguably occurred in support of other riders, especially Coryn Rivera, for whom Van Dijk produced some astonishing turns to help her win the Tour of Flanders. There was more collective success at the Worlds through gold in the TTT, but fifth in the ITT fell short of her very high standards.