Back in November, we asked you to complete our online Cycling Weekly reader poll to gauge opinion on your favourite races, riders and sportives of 2012. We’re happy to say that we had a record response and were forced to smash open the CW piggy bank in order to buy a calculator after running out of fingers to count your votes.
If ever there was a cycling year that could correctly be termed ‘rollercoaster’, it was 2012. The highs were soaring, and the lows plumbed the deepest crevasses of an abyss filled with used syringes and lies.
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Of course, it’s the Tour de France and London 2012 Olympic events and riders that have secured the majority of votes in our poll. Bradley Wiggins, Laura Trott, Lucy Garner, Chris Froome, as well as Jonathan Tiernan-Locke’s achievements are all included in the British-dominated results.
Several categories were incredibly closely fought, leading us to indulge in a late-night vote recount. But one category that wasn’t closely fought was ‘villain of the year’. The unanimously voted pantomime baddie of the year could easily claim to be the sporting villain of the century.
Read on to find out more…
Most exciting British race
1 Tour of Britain
2 Women’s road race, London 2012 Olympic Games
3 Men’s time trial, London 2012 Olympic Games
Last year’s winner: Tour of Britain
The London 2012 Olympic Games may have had a huge amount of hype and an even bigger budget, but according to your votes, it was still no match for the 2012 edition of the Tour of Britain. Huge crowds lined the roads during the ToB, and those who weren’t at the roadside were able, for the first time, to watch the action unfurl live on the tellybox. Great racing on every stage, and the race’s first British winner – Jonathan Tiernan-Locke – since the race’s return to the calendar, all helped its popularity.
Best of the rest was the women’s Olympic road race. In epically foul weather, the battle for the gold medal was fought out on a soggy Mall by home favourite Lizzie Armitstead and all-conquering Marianne Vos. It’s not often that time trials are called ‘exciting’, but Bradley Wiggins’s performance in the Olympics was just that, and held enough votes to place it third.
Well done to the bright spark who voted for ‘Grand National’. I suppose it’s our fault for not using the word ‘bicycle’ in the question. Good to see the ‘Dartmoor Slow House Crank Bender’ coming away with a vote. Whatever it is.
Most exciting stage race
1 Tour de France
2 Tour of Britain
3 Giro d’Italia
Last year’s winner: Tour de France
It’s no surprise that the Tour de France once again topped our poll for your favourite stage race. This year’s edition may have lacked some out-and-out classic stages, but the historic result is beyond doubt. Bradley Wiggins’s overall win put the Tour at the top of many lists.
But who’d have thought it… what’s that, fending off the Giro d’Italia? Yes, our very own Tour of Britain pushed its way into the hearts of many fans, usurping the Italian Grand Tour and pummelling the Tour of Spain out of the podium positions all together.
Some of you must have got very excited filling out the Cycling Weekly reader poll, causing your fingers to slip on the vowel keys and vote for the Tour of Britian. BRITIAN!? Back of the class, all 18 of you.
Most exciting one-day race
2 Women’s road race, London 2012 Olympic Games
3 Men’s World Championship road race
Last year’s winner: Men’s World Championship road race
Perennial fans’ favourite Paris-Roubaix was in for a tough ride this year in the one-day race category, and not just from people voting for Paris-Roubay and Parry-Rubix. Ouch. The thrilling women’s road race at the London Games once again attracted many votes, but not enough to topple Tom Boonen’s performance in Roubaix.
The men’s road race at the World Champs that earned Philippe Gilbert the right to wear the rainbow jersey for a year narrowly beat the men’s Olympic road race and Milan-San Remo for third spot. Next year you’ll all be voting for the Ride London one-day race. Mark our words.
More of an ‘honourable no mention’. We simply cannot believe that the World Championship team time trial event didn’t garner a single vote. Not one. Even the Matterhorn Scramble Cross managed to get a vote.
Most exciting track race
1 Men’s keirin final, London 2012 Olympic Games
2 Women’s team pursuit, London 2012 Olympic Games
3 Men’s team pursuit, London 2012 Olympic Games
Last year’s winner: Track World Championships
No surprises that the London 2012 Games completely dominate this category. It was Sir Chris Hoy’s gold medal in the men’s keirin that proved to be the most memorable moment of an action-packed week on the boards in the Olympic Velodrome.
The women’s team pursuiters narrowly pipped their male counterparts in the fight for the silver and bronze placings in our poll. Both events were convincingly won by Great Britain, but the record-breaking British trio of Laura Trott, Dani King and Joanna Rowsell were the stars of the show in the inaugural women’s team pursuit event.
Whoever put ‘any elimination race with Laura Trott’, we couldn’t agree more. To the person who voted for the Olympics Madison race: there wasn’t one.
Favourite British sportive
1 Dartmoor Classic
2 Dragon Ride
3 Etape Cymru
Last year’s winner: Etape Caledonia
June’s Dartmoor Classic was the runaway winner of the British sportive category. The undulating countryside and bleak terrain across the moors didn’t put you off enjoying this year’s sell-out 65 and 104-mile routes. Next year’s event will have enough places for 3,000 riders, so even more people can enjoy it.
The long-running Dragon Ride takes second place, proving that it’s the gruelling events that leave a lasting impression. Fellow Welsh ride, the Etape Cymru, placed third. Around 1,000 riders took part in this sportive run on closed roads in the testing hills and mountains of North Wales.
Here at Cycling Weekly we have amazing investigative powers (note to Leveson Inquiry: this stops well short of phone tapping) but even we would struggle to find out which event the person who said “the last one I did” was voting for.
Favourite international sportive event
1 Etape du Tour
2 La Marmotte
3 Maratona dles Dolomites
Last year’s winner: Etape du Tour
Just as the Tour de France is the undisputed king of bike races, its companion sportive – the Etape du Tour – is once again voted as your favourite international sportive. It’s hard to see who can challenge the godfather of organised rides, taking participants along the route of one (or two) of the Tour’s stages. The equally venerable Marmotte is the best of the rest.
This gruelling Alpine slog has its legion of followers for good reason. In third spot is the equally gorgeous Maratona dles Dolomites, a stunning trip through the Italian Dolomites that draws in thousands of participants from around the world – including a healthy contingent of CW readers.
The Dartmoor Classic also got a fair few votes in this category as well as in the British sportive category, leading us to suspect an organised campaign of voting. But surely no one would do such a thing? And there’s always one person who writes “couldn’t care less”. That’s not the spirit, chaps.
Best cycle race television coverage
1 ITV’s coverage of the Tour de France
2 Eurosport’s coverage of the Tour de France
3 BBC’s coverage of the Olympic Games
Last year’s winner: ITV, Tour de France
A category for the armchair cycling fan. With more live cycling coverage on TV than ever before, spread across the BBC, ITV and Eurosport, voting was tight this season. ITV’s terrestrial television coverage of the Tour came out on top once again, with its easy access via Freeview, and its winning mix of live coverage, analysis and interviews, and well-packaged highlights.
Eurosport’s Tour coverage was no less extensive, but perhaps is limited in votes as it’s only available via satellite, cable and the internet. Completing the top three is the BBC’s coverage of the London 2012 cycling events. Thankfully, people seem to have forgotten about that dreadful first day from the men’s road race, when information was harder to come by than an honest answer from an MP.
A few of you still seem to be receiving coverage of the Tour de France on Channel 4. Perhaps the signal is bouncing back from Jupiter, since it was last shown on the channel over a decade ago.
Most impressive British-based rider
1 Jonathan Tiernan-Locke
2 Laura Trott
3 Kristian House
Last year’s winner: Mark Cavendish
Blimey. Jonathan Tiernan-Locke literally blew this one apart like one of his trademark thigh-burning uphill attacks. Around 50 per cent of all the votes in this category went to JTL, who swelled his legion of fans with a string of wins during 2012 culminating in overall victory at the Tour of Britain.
Sky have snapped up the man from Plymouth for 2013, and it will be interesting to see how he slots into the WorldTour set-up alongside Grand Tour big-hitters Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome. Olympic double track champion Laura Trott not only breaks the male-dominated stranglehold, but also that of road riders to place second. Impressive Tour of Britain King of the Mountains Kristian House took third.
Good to see junior road race world champion Lucy Garner and talented young Tour of Britain participant Josh Edmondson getting a fair few nods in this category.
Most impressive rider overall
1 Bradley Wiggins
2 Chris Froome
3 Tom Boonen
Last year’s winner: Philippe Gilbert
Wiggo smashed it. He’s smashed our ‘most impressive rider’ category just like he smashed Paris-Nice, the Critérium du Dauphiné, the Tour of Romandy, the Tour de France and the Olympic Games time trial.
It was a British rider’s most impressive run of wins in the history of professional cycling and the mod man is now a genuine household name around the world. Wiggins’s Tour (sparring) partner Chris Froome sits in second place, just as he did after that circuit of France in July.
Froome’s standing was boosted further with a spirited ride in the Tour of Spain, where he finished fourth behind three local lads who ganged up on him and stole his dinner money. Tom Boonen reclaimed his Classics King crown in the spring, winning Ghent-Wevelgem, the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix after a couple of years in the doldrums.
Such was Wiggins, Froome and Boonen’s dominance of proceedings throughout the year that Mark Cavendish barely got any votes at all. He couldn’t even match the vote tally for Peter Sagan and Joaquim Rodriguez despite winning six Grand Tour stages.
It’s a fickle world.
Team of the year
2 Team Great Britain
3 Endura Racing
Last year’s winner: HTC-Highroad
Sky obliterated the competition with a landslide victory of epic proportions to be voted CW’s ‘team of the year’. It wasn’t all about Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish either. Chris Froome, Edvald Boasson Hagen, Rigoberto Uran, Sergio Henao and Michael Rogers all finished in the top 20 of the UCI’s final WorldTour ranking, propelling Sky to the top of the team table several bike lengths clear of Katusha. The crowds around the Sky bus, AKA the Death Star, at every event show their established popularity.
The British national team placed second in your voting after a memorable Olympic campaign that saw them win 12 cycling medals, eight of which were gold. The Scottish Endura Racing team come in third for burning brightly in their last season before amalgamating with NetApp for 2013.
Omega Pharma-Quick Step and Garmin-Sharp collected a fair few votes, but we like that someone has voted for the United States Anti-Doping Agency. Few can deny the impact that particular outfit had on pro cycling this season.
Most impressive young rider
1 Peter Sagan
2 Laura Trott
3 Lucy Garner
Last year’s winner: Alex Dowsett
Cycling Weekly readers certainly recognise young talent when they see it. Slovak SensationTM Peter Sagan pops a wheelie over the line to easily take your award for the year’s most impressive young rider. Despite having the air of an uninterested teenager on a foreign exchange visit, Sagan swept the more experienced competition aside to win the Tour’s coveted green jersey at his first attempt.
Second and third places are taken up by the super-talented British duo of Laura Trott and Lucy Garner. Trott came away with Olympic, World and World Cup wins along with single-handedly showing the world that the omnium really can be an exciting event to watch. Garner proved that last year’s junior World Championship road race win was no fluke by doing the same again in fine style, and she took third spot in this category.
Luke Rowe, Tejay van Garderen, Thibaut Pinot and the really not-very-young Jonathan Tiernan-Locke (he’s 27) all secured a slew of votes from you lot.
Performance of the year
1 Bradley Wiggins in the Tour de France
2 Bradley Wiggins in the Olympic Games time trial
3 Tom Boonen in Paris-Roubaix
Last year’s winner: Chris Froome at the Tour of Spain
We asked you to vote for the rider and event in which you think they excelled, and the runaway winner was – predictably – Bradley Wiggins at the Tour de France. Wiggo’s dominance of the premier Grand Tour saw him become the first Briton to come away from Paris with the yellow jersey. And become the first person to ever mention the word ‘raffle’ in a Tour winner’s speech.
Second to Wiggins is, er, Wiggins. His imperious, gold-medal-winning time trial ride at the London 2012 Olympics further cemented Wiggins’s profile as Britain’s greatest cyclist. Tom Boonen’s ride at Paris-Roubaix underlined the Belgian’s return to form, dominating the Spring Classics after several troubled years. Welcome back, Tom.
Philippe Gilbert’s World Champs win and Mark Cavendish’s Tour stage wins would have been enough to bag them a top three place in any other year. Just shows how high the standard has been.
Hero of the year
1 Bradley Wiggins
2 Chris Froome
3 Mark Cavendish
Last year’s winner: Mark Cavendish
There haven’t been many cyclists whose facial hair has graced the front of the Sun newspaper. But in a summer of madness, the daily red top rag published a pair of cut-out-and-stick-on Wiggo ginger sideburns. The Kilburn lad’s legendary status was confirmed, and his straight-talking, heart-on-sleeve interviews made him stand out from a world of over-rehearsed “we gave it 101 per cent” sportspeople speeches. In between the interviews and sideburns, Wiggins even managed to win a couple of races.
Tour runner-up Chris Froome comes in second place in our poll, but we have a feeling his worth may move up a notch next year when he targets the Tour. Last year’s winner of this category, Mark Cavendish, drops down to third to make his only CW 2012 reader poll podium appearance.
Who’d have thought it? Lying pill-popper turned whistleblower Tyler Hamilton seems to have gained a fan club. The American’s doping revelations outlined in his book The Secret Race brought Lance Armstrong and US Postal’s cheating misdemeanours out in the open. A game-changer, as our transatlantic friends would say.
Villain of the year
1 Lance Armstrong
2 Alexandre Vinokourov
3 Pat McQuaid
Last year’s winner: Alberto Contador
Boo! Hiss! Everyone loves a villain. Or shall we say they love to loathe a villain. So many people voted for convicted drug cheat Lance Armstrong that there were barely any votes for anyone else. Not even for CW editor Robert Garbutt – and that’s a first. Armstrong lost all seven of ‘his’ Tour titles this year after the United States Anti-Doping Agency investigation found him guilty of being a very, very naughty boy throughout his pro career.
Olympic road race champ and previously convicted drug cheat Alexandre Vinokourov obviously riled many by stealing our Cav’s thunder on The Mall and is your second most (or rather least) popular villain. In third is UCI president Pat McQuaid, who presided over the Armstrong affair with foot-shuffling unease and a collection of unintentionally hilarious press statements. Orf with their heads!
Two Ferraris cropped up in your voting: shifty-eyed doping doctor Michele Ferrari and Cav-bumping pinball sprinter Roberto Ferrari. The driver of the van that knocked Bradley Wiggins off his bike outside a Lancashire petrol station and the phantom Tour tack spreader also attracted your attention.