You voted on our website www.cyclingweekly.com and we’ve added up the responses, sorted the sarcastic answers into a pile to be dealt with later, and can now look back at the races, riders and bits of shiny equipment that have made the year one of the best ever.
Most people got the idea this year. Someone voted ‘Mark Cavendish’ in every category, including Best Innovation. (Thanks Mark!) So without further ado, let’s crack on with the winners. Raise your glass of complimentary sparkling wine and please, no shouting out.
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MOST EXCITING BRITISH RACE
1 Tour of Britain
2 British national road race championships
3 Tour Series
The national tour wins for the second year in a row – and that’s despite the fact that Edvald Boasson Hagen’s four stage wins and overall victory made it a tad predictable.
The National Championships were superb again this year, with both the men’s and women’s races packed with drama, culminating in exciting finishes and crowning worthy winners.
New kid on the block, the Tour Series, held the attention in May and June, attracting big crowds and generating a lot of interest, even if the format took a bit of getting used to. Who won? “Halfords.” Yeah, but who won the race? “Oh, a Rapha rider.” Right, so how does that work then? “Er…”
The Lincoln Grand Prix and East Midlands Cicle Classic were just outside the top three and had a lot of support, as did Revolution and the Nocturne series. Whoever voted for the A5 Rangers Hilly ‘31′ obviously enjoyed their day, but whether Matt Botrill’s win by more than three minutes counts as a nail-biter, we’re not sure.
MOST EXCITING STAGE RACE
1 Tour de France
2 Giro d’Italia
Nearly everyone voted for the Tour de France, as they do most years. And who can blame them? It wasn’t one of the all-time great contests, though. Too much depended on the race being in the balance when it reached Mont Ventoux, but everyone knew Alberto Contador was too strong. The only real drama by that stage was waiting to see whether the Spaniard was going to suddenly be struck down by food poisoning in the final week.
It was a grumpy, bad-tempered Tour for the most part, with Columbia sniping at Garmin, Garmin sniping at Astana and Lance sniping at everyone. But the heroics of Mark Cavendish and Brad Wiggins made it must-see entertainment throughout July.
The Giro, by comparison, wasn’t quite so gripping. Denis Menchov stayed upright enough of the time to win it ahead of Danilo Di Luca. But how obvious was it that Di Luca was going to get busted sooner rather than later? The Giro contained its tetchy moments (Lance again, mostly, complaining about Milan, the rain and dangerous descents).
Paris-Nice was a gem, again, partly because Contador forgot to eat his lunch on the decisive day and Luis Leon Sanchez ambushed him in the hills. Great racing, and Lance’s patronising Twit about Contador having a lot to learn only made it more interesting.
Welsh stage race for third and fourth-category riders, the Etape de la Defonce, got as many votes as the Vuelta a Espana. Says it all really. Mind you, the Defonce is a belter.
MOST EXCITING ONE-DAY RACE
1 Milan-San Remo
3 Men’s elite World Championship road race
Wonder how many of those who voted for Milan-San Remo watched more than the last 45 minutes or so? It has to be said, viewed over the full seven hours, the race does offer more than a few opportunities for the armchair spectator to nod off. However, the final hour was gripping, the final 10 minutes utterly captivating and the final 10 metres was one of those rare moments when time seems to stand still as the brain struggles to compute what the eyes have just seen. It would be interesting to know if the race would have got the same number of votes if the result had been the other way round and Haussler had pipped Cavendish.
Paris-Roubaix is the best day’s viewing of most years, and 2009 was no exception. The final stages were brilliant, from Thor Hushovd’s remarkable crash on a left-hand bend to the moment when Tom Boonen finally shook off his stalker Filippo Pozzato.
Another race that packed a lifetime’s drama into a quarter of an hour was the World Championships and Cadel Evans’s attack really was brilliant to watch. It was almost enough to make up for sitting through seven hours of commentary on the BBC’s Red button.
All of the Classics got a mention, as did the Lincoln Grand Prix – won by Russell Downing again. However, the Moray Firth road race seems to have snuck into the reckoning without anyone knowing how.
MOST EXCITING TRACK RACE
1 Victoria Pendleton’s World Championship sprint
2 Geraint Thomas’s individual pursuit at the Manchester World Cup
3 Great Britain women’s team pursuit world record
A lot of people voted for the Manchester World Cup ahead of the World Championships, but of course, we were hoping people would narrow it down to a specific event. Of those who did, Victoria Pendleton’s victory in the sprint at the Worlds in Poland was a clear winner. It wasn’t a vintage Worlds for the GB team as they relaxed a little following the Beijing Olympics, but Pendleton’s victory, achieved when far from her best form, was a triumph for guts, determination and sheer bloody-mindedness. She probably wasn’t the fastest rider in the competition that week, but she summoned everything she had to secure the title and it’s great that so many fans recognised it.
Geraint Thomas recorded the third-fastest individual pursuit over 4,000 metres of all time at the Manchester World Cup in the autumn, hinting that perhaps Chris Boardman’s 4-11 may not be as unbeatable as it once seemed. The British women’s team pursuit trio of Houvenaghel, Armitstead and Rowsell also broke their own world record the same weekend and laid down a marker for the rest to aim at.
The Hoy versus Crampton all-British sprint final at the Manchester World Cup had some support, as did Chris Hoy’s comeback. The Revolution scored well too, as did the Newport and Halesowen leagues. However, you’ll have to remind us what made the first heat of the Central sprint championships so great.
FAVOURITE BRITISH SPORTIVE
1 Dragon Ride
2 Fred Whitton Challenge
3= Etape du Dales
3= Etape Caledonia
3= Hell of the Ashdown
The undefeated champion in this category is Wales’ finest, the Dragon Ride, which pipped the Fred Whitton for the second year in a row.
The Etape du Dales was joint-third, together with the Etape Caledonia, which got a lot of support despite being targeted by a loony with a carrier bag of carpet tacks. Despite being held in winter, the Hell of the Ashdown has legions of fans too.
It shows the strength of the scene that more than 50 different events were nominated. A lot of hardy souls liked the Tour of Wessex and its 330-mile, three-day challenge. The Cyclone Northern Rock and Southern Sportive also impressed. A couple of voters nominated the Sky Ride. Of course, there were plenty of people who said: “Don’t know/Don’t have one/Didn’t ride one/Not interested” and “Hate them”. To them we say: what’s the matter with you? Scared of enjoying yourselves?
FAVOURITE INTERNATIONAL SPORTIVE
1 Etape du Tour
2 La Marmotte
3 Ronde Van Vlaanderen
The Etape du Tour regained its position as the most popular international sportive, displacing last year’s winner, La Marmotte. Its return to Mont Ventoux probably had a lot to do with that result. It was a truly epic course and, unlike the last time it visited the Giant of Provence, the weather co-operated. The Marmotte is still popular, as is the Tour of Flanders, which is easy for British riders to get to and allows you to enter on the line.
Lots of Italian events were nominated, with the Maratona dles Dolomites proving the most popular. Fair play to whoever it was who nominated Paris-Roubaix – it wasn’t held in 2009, but will be back on the calendar in 2010.
MOST IMPRESSIVE BRITISH BASED RIDER
1 Russell Downing
2 Sir Chris Hoy
3 Malcolm Elliott
As one voter said: “Russell Downing – who else?” And to think it wasn’t until he won the Tour of Ireland that he finally secured a contract with Team Sky. Once again Fonzy was the dominant figure on the UK scene and at last, after several false starts, it looks like he’ll get his chance to impress on the bigger stage. Who would bet on him winning a stage of the Tour Down Under next month? It was a convincing result for Downing, ahead of Sir Chris Hoy, and veteran campaigner (bet he loves that phrase) Malcolm Elliott – who nevertheless, had considerable support.
Dean Downing has plenty of fans out there, but to those who voted simply for ‘Downing’, we had to split your vote, awarding half to each brother.
MOST IMPRESSIVE RIDER
1 Mark Cavendish
2 Bradley Wiggins
3 Alberto Contador
Astonishingly just one vote separated Cav and Wiggo. Some say they are the Liam and Noel of cycling (we’re not saying which is which). Others think they act more like the BBC’s Chuckle Brothers. But we love them all the same because they are about as far from the bland, sanitised PR-influenced sportsmen as it’s possible to get. Alberto Contador, the Tour de France champion, is a distant third.
Fabulous Fabian Cancellara was only just behind Contador, but after that there is a big drop off to Lance Armstrong, who had surprisingly little support.
TEAM OF THE YEAR
2 Cervelo Test Team
A runaway win for Cavendish’s Columbia-HTC team with 66 per cent of the vote. That’s what over 80 wins in a season will do for your popularity. Well, it can’t be that hideous white, black and yellow kit, can it? Cervelo have made a huge impression in their first year in the peloton and pipped Garmin to second place.
Astana, Saxo Bank and Rapha-Condor were next in line. Good to see the ever-popular Cwmcarn Paragon get a vote too.
MOST IMPRESSIVE YOUNG RIDER
1 Edvald Boasson Hagen
2 Ben Swift
3 Lizzie Armitstead
Team Sky have clearly struck gold signing the Norwegian wunderkind. Boasson Hagen was a clear winner ahead of Ben Swift, who probably didn’t get many votes from Russia, to be fair.
However, even more impressive is that we received 56 different spellings of Edvald Boasson Hagen. Please stay behind after class nearly all of you. That includes everyone who copped out by putting the initials EBH. Future star Lizzie Armitstead was third – and a lot of people spelled her name incorrectly too. It’s Arm-it-stead, with the extra ‘t’ in the middle.
Andy Schleck, Peter Kennaugh, Geraint Thomas, Jack Bobridge, Jakob Fuglsang, Robert Gesink, Dan Martin, Taylor Phinney, Romain Sicard all got a mention. The person who voted for Russell Downing ought to know that he’s 31. Yes, we know that’s young to some people, but he doesn’t count, sorry.
FAVOURITE TEAM KIT
Technically speaking, Cervelo cheated by having two kits to choose from. The super-cool black and the ice-cool white. The black was the more popular of the two and would have won on its own anyway. The white kit would have beaten Columbia-HTC to third place. It’s no real surprise that Rapha’s kit is so popular, but Columbia beating Garmin to the podium is a shocker. Seriously, it’s a mess, isn’t it?
ISD’s incredible Mario Cipollini-inspired abomination got one vote, as did Quick Step’s retro effort that never saw the light of day because of the UCI’s adherence to their rule book.
BEST BIKE BRAND
One of the most competitive categories, Specialized win and the same three brands appear on the podium for the second successive year. Last year the order was Cervelo, Pinarello, Specialized. With Team Sky riding Pinarello we’ll bet a pound now that the Italian company will win this category next year.
Trek, Scott, Bianchi, Boardman, Focus and Giant were among the other favourites, with Condor the most popular British brand.
FAVOURITE BIKE KIT
1 Garmin Edge
2 Zipp wheels
3 SRAM Red
You’re really all a bunch of anoraks -hunched over your PCs downloading training data after each ride and squinting at the graphs and figures. The Garmin Edge is understandable a popular gadget. The number of readers who voted for Zipp’s wheels shows that there are plenty of cyclists out there who have been recession-proofed. SRAM Red has made a splash too – proving that there is an alternative answer to the age-old question Campag or Shimano?
All in all, more than 100 products of all types got a mention but the funniest nomination was for DZ Nuts chamois cream. “It’s yummy.” You need help, sir or madam. It’s not meant for internal consumption.
INNOVATION OF THE YEAR
1 Shimano Di2
2 Campagnolo 11-speed
3 Crud mudguards
Shimano’s electronic groupset was launched in January and it seems plenty of people have forked out for it judging by our survey. It’s popular too. And it doesn’t start playing up when you ride past mobile phone masts, it seems. Campag’s 11-speed technically came out in 2008, but it was so far back in our poll that it barely matters.
The Tour Series, Team Sky, Twitter, Cav’s green Oakleys, radio-free Tour stages, the biological passport and Wiggo’s diet all have their supporters.
HERO OF THE YEAR
1 Bradley Wiggins
2 Mark Cavendish
3= Alberto Contador
3= Cadel Evans
Wiggo walks it by a surprising margin considering how close the Most Impressive Rider category was. He got a few mentions for his Twitter wit, but most votes were for his heroics in the Tour, particularly on Mont Ventoux when he clung leech-like on to fourth place overall.
Just nine votes for Lance Armstrong. That’s a big surprise. There were also mentions for “the man with a water hose at the Etape” – we know what you mean, and “Pendleton for that win at the worlds – every ounce was left on the track”. Nice to see CW’s legendary cartoonist Johnny Helms, who sadly passed away recently, got a mention too.
VILLAIN OF THE YEAR
1 Lance Armstrong
2 Danilo Di Luca
3 Davide Rebellin
Always the most interesting category. This is where the readers of Britain’s best and longest-serving cycling magazine show their true colours. Armstrong will take consolation from the fact he’s managed to at least win something this year (apart from that nodder’s race, of course). Di Luca and Rebellin head the dopers.
Many variations on ‘dopers’, ‘cheats’, ‘doping scum’ ‘druggies’ and ‘anyone who tested positive’ took fourth place. Bernhard Kohl and Mikel Astarloza got a mention too. The guy who put the tacks on the Etape Caledonia course is there, as is James Martin, also referred to as ‘That Idiot Chef’. Jeremy Clarkson, Theo Bos, and the commissaire who robbed Cav in the Tour also had their enemies. Fred The Shred (politics!), Pat McQuaid and the UCI were also mentioned. CW editor Robert Garbutt is concerned he only got one vote this year and fears he may be losing his touch. Best response: “Vino the slug.” Yeah, that’ll tell him.
FAVOURITE CYCLING WEEKLY COVER
1 Wiggins at the Tour de France
2 Sex and cycling
3 Cavendish wins Milan-San Remo
Another revealing category. Wiggins and Cavendish covers are always popular, and the presence of the Sex and Cycling cover story proves that cyclists are not always at their happiest when they’re bashing away by themselves in the garage. What? On the turbo, we meant. Get your minds out of the sewer.
We had some belting answers, as ever. Our art and design team were particularly delighted with: “None, they were all too messy from a design point of view.” Oooh, la-di-da. “Anything that wasn’t about fitness or sportives.” Erm… “Anything with a real rider and not a member of CW’s staff.” Ahhh… “None. The magazine has been even worse this year.” Thanks for all that. We love you too.
Right, well, that brings our awards to a close. It’s nearly Christmas, time to eat, drink and be merry, for a few days at least, before pinning the Cycling Weekly mileage chart to the fridge and colouring it in for three days at the start of January. Just like last year. See you all in 2010. Be safe out there.