Cycling Weekly Reader Poll 2013: The results

The votes are in, the spread-sheets have been examined and we’re ready to reveal the top riders, events, heroes and villains of 2013, as voted for by you. We’ve had a record number of responses, making this year’s poll the most representative ever.

It’s been another noteworthy year, creating stiff competition in many of our poll categories. British cyclists’ collective success has continued over the past 12 months, with Chris Froome establishing himself as one of the world’s top stage racers with the nation’s second consecutive victory in the Tour de France.

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The domestic race scene has also strengthened with the Tour of Britain’s popularity increasing, no doubt helped along by Bradley Wiggins taking the overall victory. Plus, there have been new events to attract your votes, such as the summer’s RideLondon-Surrey race and sportive.

Your votes weren’t by any means predictable in every category however, with some surprises being thrown into the mix.

One non-surprise though, was the villain of the year. A man who continues unchallenged as cycling’s ultimate pantomime baddie…

Most impressive British rider

1 Chris Froome (Sky)
2 Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quick Step)
3 Geraint Thomas (Sky)

Last year’s winner: Jonathan Tiernan-Locke (Sky)

There’s absolutely no doubt about your collective choice for this year’s most impressive British rider – Tour de France winner Chris Froome. Froome’s season-long dominance in stage races was as impressive as Bradley Wiggins’s the year before, with Froome taking victory in the Tour of Oman, Critérium International, Tour of Romandy and Critérium du Dauphiné.

Mark Cavendish comes in second after collecting his second biggest tally of victories in a single season (the most was in 2009 with HTC-Highroad).

Proving that it’s not just wins that attract your attention, Geraint Thomas is in third place after
riding strongly for Sky in early-season races and
the Classics. Notably, last year’s winner Jonathan Tiernan-Locke did not feature at all, after a difficult season that culminated in questions about his biological passport.

Honourable mentions
Simon Yates, Ian Stannard, Peter Kennaugh, Laura Trott and, indeed, Dom Skidmore of Route 55 BMX team figured in the voting. A complimentary atlas is winging its way to the people who voted for Tasmanian Richie Porte (who at least rides on a British team) and Swiss time trial/Classics machine Fabian Cancellara (who doesn’t).

Most impressive international rider

1 Nairo Quintana (Movistar)
2 Vincenzo Nibali (Astana)
3 Peter Sagan (Cannondale)

Last year’s winner: Bradley Wiggins (Sky)

For the first time in its history, a category of the CW Reader Poll has come down to a recount, such was the narrowness of the winning margin. Colombian climber Nairo Quintana came out on top, having made a big impression this year. Best young rider and King of the Mountains classifications at the Tour de France were the highlight for the Movistar man, and his appearance at the Tour of Britain was popular among British fans.

Vincenzo Nibali is a very, very close second place behind Quintana after the Italian’s impressive Giro d’Italia win in foul conditions.

Tour de France green jersey winning machine, bottom pincher and car-roof bike parker Peter Sagan completes the podium in third. Just watch those wandering hands, ladies.

Honourable mentions
Fabian Cancellara, Joaquim Rodriguez, Chris Froome, Marcel Kittel, Daniel Martin, Tony Martin, Richie Porte, Rui Costa and Marianne Vos all got a healthy selection of votes. A handful of votes for BMX Masters World Champion Kelvin Batey was a surprise, but well deserved.

Team of the year

1 Sky
2 Movistar
3 Omega Pharma-Quick Step

Last year’s winner: Sky

Not the landslide that it was last year, but Sky nevertheless are once again your team of the year after another strong season in their collective saddles, crowned with a second consecutive win in the Tour de France.

Movistar is, however, shaping up to be the British squad’s most convincing nemesis with some aggressive riding and strong performances from Nairo Quintana, Rui Costa, Alejandro Valverde, Ruben Plaza, Benat Intxausti and former Sky rider Alex Dowsett.

Omega Pharma-Quick Step fills the third spot with its vast collection of victories from reliable winners Mark Cavendish and Tony Martin, and one from Tom Boonen.

Honourable mentions
Great Britain’s women team pursuiters were recognised by many voters for their crushing dominance on the track. Argos-Shimano also collected a healthy stack of votes after a strong season with Marcel Kittel and John Degenkolb. Surprisingly, Garmin-Sharp’s popularity has slipped from previous years with barely a handful of votes. Spanish squad Caja Rural managed to get a couple of nods.

Performance of the year

1 Chris Froome at the Tour de France
2 Tony Martin’s Vuelta stage six escape
3 Chris Horner at the Vuelta

Last year’s winner: Bradley Wiggins in the Tour de France

Chris Froome’s Tour de France win is top of the list, which comes as no surprise. Froome’s strength in the time trials and mountain stages put him head and shoulders above his yellow jersey rivals, and it’s hard to see past him winning it again in 2014.

More of a surprise is the number of votes attracted by Tony Martin’s day-long solo escape on the sixth stage of the 2013 Vuelta a Espana. The German put his world champion time trial skills to good use by oh-so-very-nearly beating an entire Grand Tour peloton. He was caught on the line and finished seventh, but it was certainly a ride that sticks in the memory.

Chris Horner’s Vuelta victory was remarkable due almost solely to his age – 41. He became the oldest Grand Tour winner in history. And is now the oldest Grand Tour winner in history without a team.

Honourable mentions
This season has been a vintage one for great performances. Dan Martin’s Liège-Bastogne-Liège win, Alex Dowsett’s Giro time trial stage victory, Fabian Cancellara (take your pick), Gerald Ciolek’s surprise Milan-San Remo victory, Marcel Kittel at the Tour and Rui Costa’s World Championship win. Also good to see British time trial specialist Matt Bottrill gaining some votes. Not so sure about the person that voted for Stephen Roche though. He retired 20 years ago.

Most exciting British race

1 Tour of Britain
2 National Championships men’s road race
3 Lincoln Grand Prix

Last year’s winner: Tour of Britain

The Tour of Britain gets stronger with every year, and the tens of thousands of people that turned out at the roadside to watch this year’s edition were not disappointed. Bradley Wiggins delivered a highly popular home win, in a race that showed off the spectacular scenery around the UK.

Glasgow hosted the 2013 road National Championships, and this was your second choice – no doubt helped by fans’ favourite Mark Cavendish scooping the victory.

Established event the tough one-day Lincoln Grand Prix was third. With its punishing climb up the Michaelgate cobbles it’s popular with spectators, and for good reason.

Honourable mentions
Newcomer RideLondon Surrey Classic caught your attention this year, and its stature will no doubt grow. Nice to see that one person considers that the 2013 National 25-mile time trial was the most exciting event of the year. And why not?

Most exciting international stage race

1 Tour de France
2 Vuelta a Espana
3 Giro d’Italia

Last year’s winner: Tour de France

The biggest bike race in the world, won by a British rider. The 2013 Tour de France was a shoo-in for this category once again, and not just because Chris Froome won it. The race started off on the beautiful island of Corsica, and we’ve no doubt that the footage of its jagged scenery, clear skies and blue seas had many people logging on to Expedia to book a holiday. The racing was as stunning as the backdrop, with Froome fighting his way through the stages to claim yellow in Paris.

We’re surprised that the Vuelta has usurped the Giro this year for second place. Chris Horner’s scrap with Vincenzo Nibali for the win obviously stuck in your minds, more than Nibali’s efforts in the weather-affected Giro. It could be that the disappointment of seeing Bradley Wiggins retiring from the Giro, having been such a strong pre-race contender, was too much. Have we mentioned that Horner was 41 when he won the Vuelta? He is literally old enough to be 21-year-old double stage winner Warren Barguil’s dad.

Honourable mentions
We’re stunned. It’s not just that someone gave the answer: “None, road cycling is not in any way exciting,” which is wrong on so many levels, but that several people voted for WorldTour runt, the Eneco Tour. Actually, it wasn’t that bad this year. Neither was the Tour of Poland, which also got a vote.

Most exciting international one-day race

1 Paris-Roubaix
2 Milan-San Remo
3 Liège-Bastogne-Liège

Last year’s winner: Paris-Roubaix

Fabian Cancellara’s battle in the iconic Roubaix velodrome against Sep Vanmarcke provided a memorable finale to your favourite one-day race of the year. The victory was made all the more noteworthy as Cancellara had won the previous week’s Tour of Flanders – just as he had done in 2010.

Gerald Ciolek gave a masterclass in tactics during Milan-San Remo in March, outfoxing pre-race favourite Peter Sagan and Fabian Cancellara to give African team MTN-Qhubeka its first major win. Brit Ian Stannard placed sixth on a day when the snow fell and the conditions were biblical.

More great tactics were on display in Liège-Bastogne-Liège – your third most popular choice. Dan Martin took the win after Garmin-Sharp team-mate Ryder Hesjedal had been reeled in from an earlier solo move. Hesjedal then helped pace Martin to a well-deserved victory.

Honourable mentions
One standout vote among the many was for the team time trial World Championships. This confusing event pits trade teams rather than nations against each other, but the winners aren’t allowed to wear a rainbow jersey, as is usually the case with world champions. They can, however, wear a nice badge. One of you obviously likes it.

Most innovative cycling event

1 Prudential RideLondon-Surrey Classic
2 Tour of Britain
3 Tour de France

Last year’s winner: New category

The inaugural running of the Prudential RideLondon event was an unprecedented success. A closed road sportive followed by a professional race, based on the London 2012 Olympic road race route into Surrey, made it this year’s clear winner of Most Innovative Cycling Event.

Proving that you don’t have to be new to be innovative, the Tour of Britain and Tour de France come second and third. This year’s ToB was the best yet, with the Haytor finish, traditional Westminster crit, and a safari park time trial adding up to make an entertaining and very British spectacle.

It’s great to see that, even after 100 editions, ASO can still come up with fresh ideas for the Tour de France. You liked the Corsica start and the night-time finish in Paris. The bits in between were pretty good too.

Honourable mentions
There seemed to be a variety of interpretations of the question, which threw up some interesting answers. “Me losing 10kg – by god I got faster,” the Orica-GreenEdge bus crash, Tour de Bangor pub-crawl, UCI presidential elections and World Naked Bike Ride are a small selection of your nominees. Thanks to the person that voted for the CW sportive series, we love you.

Best cycle race television coverage

1 Eurosport
2 ITV4
3 Sky Sports

Last year’s winner: ITV

British viewers are spoilt for choice – just a few years ago we never thought that we’d have a choice of two channels on which to view live coverage of the Tour of Britain. Yet here we are.

Eurosport is back on top after being pipped by ITV last year, but it was close. The top two were light years ahead of the rest – not surprising given the amount of coverage that they give cycling. Both broadcasters have a dependable array of commentators and pundits to add something extra to the live pictures beamed in from around the globe.

Sky Sports was third, but quite a distance from the lead duo of Eurosport and ITV4 – Sky’s limited airing of two-wheel action still seems at odds with its prominent sponsorship of a WorldTour team.

Honourable mentions
New player BT Sport was included this year, although its cycling coverage has currently only consisted of highlights of the Revolution series. It will be interesting to see if it makes inroads into cycling coverage in future years. BBC only attracted a couple of votes after slim coverage, in comparison to the extensive airing of the Olympic Games cycling events last year.

Hero of the year

1 Chris Froome
2 Geraint Thomas and Mark Cavendish
3 Fabian Cancellara and Daniel Martin

Last year’s winner: Bradley Wiggins

All-conquering stage race champion Chris Froome snatches the top spot as your hero of 2013. Froome not only has the legs to beat the best, but he deals with things in a matter-of-fact, pleasant way. And we Brits love our heroes to be likeable.

Geraint Thomas and Mark Cavendish tie for second place – Cav for his wins, and Thomas for carrying on in the Tour de France after fracturing his pelvis. We don’t just like our heroes to be likeable, we like them to be likeably hard too.

Classics legend Fabian Cancellara and Daniel Martin were neck and neck for third. Well…Cancellara has a slightly beefier neck than Martin, but Martin seems to attract men dressed as pandas, making them equally heroic. Just out of the top three is Brian Cookson, new UCI president who has made a commitment to make sweeping changes to the sport and its governing body. Hurray.

Honourable mentions
You also voted for “the man running with a stuffed boar on Mont Ventoux” and someone voted for Coldplay frontman Chris Martin. Perhaps they started to vote for Chris Froome/Horner and switched to Tony/Dan halfway.

Villain of the year

1 Lance Armstrong
2 Pat McQuaid
3 Alberto Contador and Danilo Di Luca

Last year’s loser: Lance Armstrong

We’re proud to announce that Mr Lance Armstrong has qualified for our coveted lifetime achievement award for services to villainy. He’s consistently topped this category for years. Certainly, he’s won it more times than he won the Tour de France. With Armstrong continuing to work his magic in the media, it looks like he’s here to stay for a few years yet.

Pat McQuaid comes in second place, just like he did in the UCI presidential elections in September. McQuaid’s eight-year tenure as head of the sport’s governing body drew to a close as Brian Cookson took over the reins.

Tying for third is a despicable duo of villainy. Alberto Contador (he’s done his time, folks) and triple doping infringer Danilo Di Luca (now banned for life) complete this boo-worthy podium of pedalling perpetrators. Bradley Wiggins, Chris Horner and Ryder Hesjedal all narrowly escaped the volley of rotten tomatoes aimed at the top three.

Dishonourable mentions
Twerking crooner Miley Cyrus got two votes, proving that her flesh-coloured-pants attention-seeking behaviour has seeped into the cycling world. You also voted for “the guy that threw wee on Cavendish”, Orica-GreenEdge’s bus driver and CW editor Robert Garbutt received his customary two votes. What’s he ever done to you?

Most entertaining cycling tweeter

1 Mark Cavendish
2 Jens Voigt
3 David Millar

Last year’s winner: New category

Microblogging social media service Twitter allows you to post insults to your friends, moan about your day in 140 characters or less, and look at pictures of cute kittens and other people’s cups of coffee. Cycling has taken to Twitter in a big way, and many pro riders use the site to dispense their wisdom to the world. Manx Missile Mark Cavendish is your top tweeter, with a mixture of inside info, cheeky chat and interaction with fans.

German veteran Jens Voigt is your second most popular tweeter, as much for his news on geocaching and family life as for anything related to cycling. The Jensie sticks to the golden rule of always finishing every tweet with an exclamation mark or two!!

David Millar takes our Twitter podium in third. The Scotsman is known for mixing up highbrow literary/art references with photos of drunk people. As we write this, Millar is posting up a series of photos of cafes as he goes on a “coffee bender”.

Honourable mentions
There are so many cycling tweeters and many of you have your personal favourites. Dr Hutch, Alex Dowsett, Kenny Van Vlaminck, Taylor Phinney and UK Cycling Expert all got several votes. And for everyone who said, “what’s a tweeter?” – sort it out.

Best new cycling product

1 Disc brakes for road bikes
2 Garmin Vector pedals
3 Garmin Edge 810

Last year’s winner: New category

This year’s biggest advance in road bike technology hasn’t escaped your notice – hydraulic disc brakes. Although take-up of hydro stoppers may have been slow due to limited availability, interest is obviously running high. How long will it be before we see traditional caliper rim brakes replaced? That may come down to the UCI making them legal for racers, so we won’t hold our breath.

Garmin produced a flurry of new kit this year to add to its existing range of popular GPS-based cycling computers. Its power-measuring Vector pedals could be what everyone has been waiting for – easily retrofitted to pretty much any bike on the market, and seamlessly connected wirelessly to Garmin’s range of Edge computers.

Speaking of which, Garmin’s new Edge 810 GPS computer rounds out the top three, with its colour touchscreen and live tracking feature, so you can keep check on your loved ones and rivals in a slightly stalkery way. Uploading your ride data to see if you’ve come sixth on your local Strava KOM segment has never been so sexy.

Honourable mentions
Several of you voted for “my new bike”, which is sweet. Less sweet is the sinister vote for “EPO that can’t be detected – you think I’m kidding”. The sensible person that said “Anything that makes you noticeable to lorries” gets the thumbs up from us.

Favourite British cyclo-sportive

1 Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100
2 Dartmoor Classic
3 Wiggle Dragon Ride

Last year’s winner: Dartmoor Classic

Newcomer Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 took the majority vote for your favourite British cyclo-sportive. The closed-roads event, which started in London’s Olympic park, looped down to Box Hill and back to The Mall, included 16,000 finely honed cyclists. And Boris Johnson.

Last year’s winner, the Dartmoor Classic, slips to second place – none too shabby a result for the event that makes the most of the starkly beautiful moors.

The 10th edition of the Wiggle Dragon Ride in South Wales in June confirmed the event’s stature as one of the best sportives in the UK with all the right ingredients, including a selection of fantastic routes on challenging terrain. The introduction of a super-long 300km ‘Dragon Devil’ route for 2014 proves that you can’t have too much of a good thing – it sold out within weeks.

(Dis)honourable mentions
Tens of thousands of British cyclists take part in sportives every year, with hundreds of events to choose from. That doesn’t stop a certain section of the biking community really, really hating them. “I don’t believe in sportives,” said one, as if they were some sort of mythical creature your granny said lived at the bottom of the garden.

Favourite international cyclo-sportive

1 Etape du Tour
2 La Marmotte
3 Tour of Flanders sportive

Last year’s winner: Etape du Tour

No one can shift the Etape du Tour from its top spot in your votes for favourite international sportive. The godfather of mass-participation rides continues to have an unwavering appeal, thanks to its route along one of the mountain stages of the Tour de France. This year that was 130km of stage 20, from Annecy to Annecy Semnoz ski station.

The long-running and exceedingly tough Marmotte is another annual favourite. Taking in the iconic Alpine climbs of Col du Glandon, Col du Télégraphe, Col du Galibier and Alpe d’Huez, the aim for any rider is to simply make it back before it gets dark and prevent their legs from melting due to the 5,000-plus metres of climbing.

Like the Etape du Tour, the Tour of Flanders sportive enables ordinary folk to follow in the tyre-tracks of the professional riders, taking in the route of the race of the same name. Cobbles and climbs are the order of the day over a 260km route in Belgium.

Honourable mentions
Popular overseas events Haute Route, Maratona dles Dolomites and Eroica all attracted a healthy selection of votes. The tougher, the longer and the more gruelling, the better as far as you’re concerned – as long as it’s got a stunning backdrop, you can cope with the pain.