1. Riders refuse to race at Tour of Oman
It takes a lot to stop bike riders from racing. Wind, rain, snow, even broken bones, won’t stop most of them, so when they down tools in protest you know its usually for a valid reason.
With temperatures exceeding 40 degrees and sandstorms raging, Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing) took the lead as the riders sheltered under a bridge and refused to race the rest of stage five of the Tour of Oman in Feburary. The race organisers eventually neutralised the stage, but image of all those riders crowded round under that bridge was an indelible one.
2. Froome vs Contador at the Ruta del Sol
It was the rivalry most cycling fans were looking to come to a head at the Tour de France, but we got an early taste of Chris Froome (Team Sky) and Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) battling it out on the climbs at the early season race, the Ruta del Sol.
It looked like Contador was on to an overall win after going solo in the leaders jersey ahead of Froome on the summit finish of stage three. But the Brit wasn’t going to settle for second, and put in a storming performance on the penultimate stage to gain the lead in GC by a mere two seconds. There was nothing the Spaniard could do to overturn the lead on the final flat stage, but was part of one of the most memorable starts to a season in a long time.
3. Nairo Quintana wins in the snow storm at Tirreno
More climbing action now as Nairo Quintana laid down a marker at Tirreno-Adriatico. But it wasn’t the warm and sunny climbs the Colombian might be used to, as the weather on the summit of Monte Terminillo decided to go into full blizzard mode.
No-one, including Contador, was able to match Quintana on that day and he rode from heavy rain into what looked like full-on deep winter in mid-March, to claim the stage win and control in the overall.
4. Stannard outfoxes Etixx trio at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad
Well, it was probably as much the Etixx – Quick-Step trio making a right pig’s ear of the three on one situation, with Ian Stannard managing to take a second successive victory at the Belgian semi-Classic. It was a brilliant way to kick-off the Classics season and real underdog story in the end. And who doesn’t love one of those?
5. Geraint Thomas takes first Classics victory at E3
Is Geraint Thomas one of the best all-round bike riders in the world right now? We’d certainly say so, but the Welshman has struggled to put his name to a really big win in years of helping his team leaders to victory. But he took his chance at this year’s E3 Harelbeke, outclassing two heavyweights in Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) and Zdenek Stybar (Etixx – Quick-Step) to the win.
6. A very windy Ghent-Wevelgem
You needed some serious power and good legs on the front group in the 2015 edition of Ghent-Wevelgem, with the wind blowing furiously throughout the day causing massive splits.
In the first video you can see just how much the cross winds are effecting the riders, with echelons forming right down the road, while Geraint Thomas showed just how easy it is to get taken out by a strong gust as he was thrown off the road.
7. Wiggins’ attack at Paris-Roubaix
This was Bradley Wiggins’ swansong on the road for Team Sky, so it would have been wrong if he’d not thrown caution to the wind at some point and attacked on the cobbles of Paris-Roubaix. It wasn’t to be for Wiggo on that day, but this attack was enough to get British fans excited.
8. Dowsett’s Hour
Alex Dowsett (Movistar) became the first Briton to break the new incarnation of the Hour Record, and did it in impressive style at the Manchester velodrome. While Wiggins was later to break Dowsett’s mark of 52.937, it was history in the making for the 26-year-old who looked like he could have gone even faster.
9. That Giro wheel change
It was the wheel change that would start to cost Richie Porte’s (Team Sky) chances at the Giro d’Italia. After puncture towards the end of stage 10, Porte accepted a wheel from fellow Aussie Simon Clarke (Orica-GreenEdge), but would later be sanctioned with a two-minute penalty for accepting ‘non-regulation’ assistance. It was a moment of big controversy, but it was a moment that contributed to a particularly stand-out edition of the Giro.
10. Contador on the Mortirolo
When Alberto Contador suffered a mechanical towards the foot of the Passo di Mortirolo on stage 16 of the Giro, it looked like Fabio Aru and his Astana teammates capitalised on the moment to try and take time out the race leader. But Contador wasn’t having any of it and proceeded to fly up the 12.4km climb (average grade of 10.5%) in around 45 minutes to catch his Italian rival, riding past a plethora of other riders in the process.
11. Bardet’s Dauphiné descent
The fifth stage of the Criterium du Dauphiné was almost a practice run for the stage 17 run into Pra Loup in the Tour de France, but it wasn’t the final climb that caught everyone’s attention, but the descent of the Col d’Allos.
Young Frenchman Romain Bardet (Ag2r-La Mondiale) went on the attack as the race reached the summit and then demonstrated some pretty fearless descending as he put time into the peloton. He’d claim the stage and then repeated the feat with another classy show of descending on stage 18 of the Tour.
12. The Tour’s biggest crash
This’ll certainly be an unforgettable stage, but not necessarily for Joaquim Rodriguez’s victory on the Mur de Huy or Chris Froome’s ride on the Tour’s third day. The huge crash on the way to Huy saw a huge number of riders come down after William Bonnet (FDJ) hit the deck, including race leader Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing) who broke his back for the second time this year.
13. Froome’s ride on the Col de Soudet
It was the ride that won the Tour, as Froome put time into all his main rivals on the road to La Pierre-Saint-Martin. It’s also the ride that started a thousand questions about Froome’s performance, as the Sky leader stormed to victory in the yellow jersey. It was the decisive moment of the Tour, and the stage that will probably be remembered most in hindsight.
14. Steve Cummings surprises the French
If you’re British and you weren’t jumping up and down at this point, then there must be something wrong, because when Steve Cummings (MTN-Qhubeka) surprised French pair Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) and Romain Bardet was a truly memorable sporting moment.
It looked like the Brit had lost his chance from the breakaway after he slipped back on the Monte Jalabert towards the finale of stage 14 of the Tour, with Pinot and Bardet leading out front. But just when you thought it was between those two, out of nowhere Cummings came round them both and held out in front to take his first Tour victory. Chapeau, Steve.
15. Sagan flys down the Col de Manse
The Col de Manse is renowned for its dangerous descent. But Peter Sagan didn’t care on stage 16 of the Tour as he chased lone leader Rubin Plaza (Lampre-Merida). The Slovak was looking for a stage win (but inevitably got another second place) and laid everything on the line as he took every chance on the incredibly technical descent.
16. The Alpe d’Huez stage
The final competitive stage of the Tour, Alpe d’Huez, attacks and Dutch Corner – what more is there to say? Just sit back and enjoy the perfect and unforgettable climax to this year’s Tour.
17. Adam Yates wins the Clasica San Sebastian, but doesn’t realise
After a motorbike took out Greg Van Avermaet, Adam Yates was able to solo to the finish of the Clasica San Sebastian but the Orica-GreenEdge youngster didn’t realise that he’d actually won the race.
After talking on his radio in the final 500m he was still none the wiser, only being told he was the victor after he crossed the line.
18. Tom Dumoulin’s Vuelta a España time trial
The big story of the Vuelta a España was Tom Dumoulin’s unexpected challenge for the red jersey deep into week three. The Dutchman shot back into the race lead with a storming stage 17 time trial, but Fabio Aru stayed within three seconds to set up a thrilling finale.
19. Dumoulin puts more time into Aru on Vuelta stage 19
With just three seconds separating Dumoulin and Aru, many thought the Italian would be in the lead by the time the race hit the final mountains on stage 20. But on stage 19 Dumoulin attempted to pad out his lead by attacking in the last two kilometres as Aru was flagging behind.
Aru had fallen earlier in the stage and needed and needed a helping hand from Luis Leon Sanchez to get up the final incline and narrow his losses to just three more seconds.
As it happend, Dumoulin was to lose over three minutes to Aru on the following day and hand the red jersey to the Italian.
20. Viviani and Greipel can’t be separated at the Tour of Britain
It took the keen eye of a photo finish judge to separate Elia Viviani and Andre Greipel on stage seven of the Tour of Britain in Ipswich.
After a frenetic last three kilometres, where Team Sky, Lotto-Soudal and Etixx-Quick Step all tried to gain the upper hand with their sprint trains, it came down to Viviani and Greipel on the line.
It was about the width of a tyre that eventually gave Greipel the win, but Viviani was to have the last laugh on stage eight as the German was relegated from the stage win after deviating from his line in the sprint.
Miss anything? Got a moment you think should make the list? Let us know your unforgettable race moments from the year so far in the comments below.