Most exciting international one-day race
2nd Men’s Olympic road race
3rd Tour of Flanders
Last year’s winner: Paris-Roubaix
The Hell of the North, the Queen of the Classics or plain old Paris-Roubaix, whatever name you wish to bestow upon it, it won’t be shifted from the top spot in our most exciting one-day race category.
This year’s edition provided a surprise winner in the shape of veteran Mathew Hayman (Orica-BikeExchange), who out-rode Tom Boonen (Etixx-Quick Step) and Ian Stannard (Sky) to claim the biggest win of his long career. For some, the winner hardly matters — it’s the brutal, cobble sector strewn route and war of attrition that always makes Paris-Roubaix such a highlight.
In Olympic year, we’d expect one or more of the Rio races to figure highly — and you voted in the men’s road race. The hilly course featured some great racing, and some awful crashes, but there’s no denying its excitement value. Like Roubaix, the Tour of Flanders is an assured annual spectacle, and one that benefitted from world champ Peter Sagan snatching the victory.
Just missing out on a top-three place, the women’s Olympic road race was fourth in the poll, followed by Sky’s first Monument win in Liège-Bastogne-Liège, Milan-San Remo and the increasingly popular Strade Bianche.
Most exciting international stage race
1st Tour de France
2nd Vuelta a España
3rd Giro d’Italia
Last year’s winner: Vuelta a España
After two years at the top, the Vuelta a España has been shifted down a place as the Tour de France reclaims its crown as your favourite international multi-day event. A great, if not entirely classic, Tour route kicked off with a Grand Départ in Normandy. Mark Cavendish scooped the opening stage to wear the maillot jaune for the first time, on his way to four stage victories. Steve Cummings won a stage, Adam Yates took the best young rider jersey and, of course, Chris Froome won the whole thing — the Brits had a good race.
After his Tour success, Froome then fancied his luck at the Vuelta but came up against a resurgent Nairo Quintana (Movistar), who was off-peak at the Tour. A great battle ensued. The Giro snagged third place in your voting, with the Grand Tours dominating all the top places.
Week-long stage races struggle to compete with the prestige of the Grand Tours in the fans’ hearts, but Paris-Nice, Critérium du Dauphiné and Tour of California all featured quite highly in the remainder of the voting.
Most exciting British race
1st Tour of Britain
2nd Tour de Yorkshire
3rd RideLondon-Surrey Classic
Last year’s winner: Tour of Britain
Now 13 years into its reincarnation, the Tour of Britain is showing no sign of slipping out of favour with cycling fans. It’s been consistently ranked as CW readers’ top home race, despite worthy opposition from newer races such as the Tour de Yorkshire, Women’s Tour and RideLondon-Surrey Classic. This year’s edition delivered an inclusive route, starting in Scotland and running south through the Lake District, Wales, the South-West and down into London. Its popularity was no doubt helped by Brit Steve Cummings (Dimension Data) taking the overall victory.
Tour de France legacy event, the Tour de Yorkshire, continues to impress and evidently catch the fans’ attention. And the RideLondon-Surrey Classic is the only single-day race in the top three — with a move up to WorldTour in 2017, will it also move up our poll?
The National Hill-Climb Championships continues to grow in popularity, as does the Women’s Tour and the London Six. We’d argue with one respondent who said ‘none are exciting’ and we’re not really sure that the UCI recognises either the ‘Queen’s Toilet Race’ or the Tour de Bangor Pub Crawl.
Most innovative bike race
1st Tour de France
2nd Revolution Track Series
3rd Tour de Yorkshire
Last year’s winner: Tour de Yorkshire
You voted the Tour de France the most innovative race of 2016, which is some going given it reached its 103rd edition this season. The organisers are always willing to try out new ways of keeping the race looking fresh, while maintaining respect for its heritage. This year’s race paid tribute to those who lost their lives in World War Two with a Grand Départ in Normandy, then on to the Alps and Pyrenees before the iconic finale in Paris on the Champs-Elysées. We wonder whether they’ll now include a running section on Mont Ventoux every year.
It’s great to see the British Revolution Series right up there too. It’s another event where the organiser keeps it fresh with new ideas to keep the crowds coming back year after year. New kid on the block, the Tour de Yorkshire has quickly established itself as a favourite, and although it won last year, third is great going in this company.
With more, and better, women’s racing being included in the calendar, the rise in popularity of the Women’s Tour and La Course is reflected in your votes.