It’s been another crazy year in cycling. The races remain mostly the same, the riders slowly change and there are of course all the usual ups and downs.
How to start retelling the story of our sport in 2019? The top 10 most-read news stories on our website is probably a good place to start.
Scandal and the unexpected once again dominated the stories that captured peoples’ attention, as well as the sad news of Bjorg Lambrecht’s death that shocked the cycling world.
1. UCI releases video showing why Nils Eekhoff was disqualified from World Championships
Dutchman Nils Eekhoff crossed the line first in the under-23 road race at the Yorkshire World Championships, but was later disqualified after the race jury were alerted to a video of him slipstreaming behind his team car.
The jury’s decision caused uproar among riders, who questioned why Eekhoff hadn’t been penalised immediately.
However, the UCI later said the jury had been alerted to the footage by the video referee after the race had finished, with the referee checking the video of Eekhoff because he had won.
Samuele Battistella of Italy, who had finished second in the seven-up sprint that decided the race, was promoted to gold, Stefan Bissegger (Switzerland) took silver and Britain’s Tom Pidcock was bumped up to third.
2. Bjorg Lambrecht dies after crash at Tour of Poland 2019
A devastating story that shocked the cycling world.
Bjorg Lambrecht died following a crash on stage three of the Tour of Poland, with the court being told he had hit a road reflector.
The 22-year-old was involved in the accident 48km into the stage, swerving off the road and hitting a culvert, suffering serious internal injuries.
He was resuscitated after the crash and rushed to hospital, but the liver laceration he had suffered caused an internal haemorrhage, which led to a cardiac arrest. He then died during surgery.
3. Geraint Thomas caught in crash that snapped Gianni Moscon’s bike on stage eight of the Tour de France 2019
Geraint Thomas was caught up in a crash with his Ineos team-mates in the closing kilometres of stage eight of the Tour de France 2019.
Television pictures showed a number of Ineos riders coming round a corner when an EF Education First rider lost their wheel and sent the group crashing to the floor. Michał Kwiatkowski was able to put Thomas’ chain back on his undamaged bike and send him off chasing back to the peloton.
Cycling Weekly also managed to track down the spectator who took the incredible photo of Thomas mid-flight during the crash, which you can read here.
4. Chaos reigns supreme at Yorkshire Worlds U23 time trial
One of the defining features of the Yorkshire World Championships were the horrific weather conditions, and the u23 men’s time trial bore the brunt of them.
A number of heavy crashes made for spectacular yet jarring television images, as the young riders battled against the elements in their pursuit of glory.
5. Geraint Thomas says Team Ineos will ‘have some questions about leadership’ at Tour de France 2020
With August barely begun and Egan Bernal still basking in his maiden Tour de France victory, talk had already turned to how Ineos would deal with having three Tour winners in the same squad.
After finishing runner-up to his young Colombian team-mate, Geraint Thomas said: “If all three of us are there on the start line [at the 2020 Tour] – me, Froomey, and Egan – jeez, we’re going to have some questions about leadership.
“But the other teams will have to answer those questions on the road. We’ve always been honest, clear and communicated with each other, so it will be great to have that strength next year.”
6. Alessandro De Marchi suffers collapsed lung and multiple fractures after bad fall in Tour de France 2019
Alessandro De Marchi suffered serious injuries including a collapsed lung in a crash that left him face down at the side of the road on stage nine of the Tour de France.
The CCC Team rider had been a major animator on the previous stage, joining stage winner Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal) in the breakaway.
However, De Marchi’s Tour was brought to a severe close the next day when he crashed around 50km into stage nine, being seen led face down at the side of the road after the fall.
The Italian suffered a broken collarbone, ribs, abrasions, as well as bruising and a small collapse in his lung.
7. Rohan Dennis Tour de France abandonment ‘more complicated and more sensitive’ than a single issue
With confusion surrounding Rohan Dennis’ sudden abandonment of the Tour de France, all his Bahrain-Merida team would say at the time was that the issue was “more complicated and more sensitive” than one single issue.
Fast forward a few months and the Australian said the whole debacle was blown way out of proportion, before going on to defend his world time trial championship title in Yorkshire. Days later Bahrain-Merida announced during the men’s road race that they had terminated Dennis’ contract, with the 29-year-old then going on to sign with Ineos in December. A quiet year in all then.
8. Miguel Ángel López lashes out at spectator after causing crash at the Giro d’Italia 2019
Miguel Ángel López (Astana) lashed out at a fan on the side of the road after the spectator apparently caused the Colombian rider to crash on stage 20 of the Giro d’Italia 2019.
With 5km to go, television pictures picked up López off his bike, trying to fix his chain, with team-mate Jan Hirt offering assistance.
After a significant delay, López did get back on his bike but found himself distanced from the front of the race as the GC favourites made their way to the finish.
A television replay showed López stopped by the side of the road immediately after the crash, lashing out at the spectator, who was sat on the floor.
At the start of the replay, you could see the spectator in question running alongside the riders on the left hand side, but the man was then forced into the way of the riders by another fan who was standing in front of the line of spectators.
At the end of the race López managed to escape punishment after he UCI jury apparently called López’s actions a “human reaction” to the incident.
9. Riders pulled from Giro d’Italia and Tour of California as UCI publishes names linked to blood doping scandal
The Austrian blood doping scandal hit the Giro d’Italia and the Tour of California as the UCI published four names believed to be connected with the case.
Bahrain-Merida rider Kristijan Koren was pulled from the Giro, while Kristijan Durasek (UAE Team Emirates) was told he wouldn’t continue in California after both were provisionally suspended by cycling’s governing body.
A statement from the UCI said: “Based on information received from the law enforcement authorities of Austria, the UCI has notified these individuals of potential anti-doping rule violations. The UCI has also provisionally suspended the above-mentioned individuals.”
Durasek was then banned for four years in November, while Bahrain-Merida rider Kristijan Koren and sports director Borut Božič were also banned from the sport for two years
10. Wout van Aert undergoes surgery after Tour de France time trial crash
Wout van Aert was rushed into surgery after his bad fall during the Tour de France stage 13 time trial.
The Belgian cyclocross superstar was fighting for the provisional stage lead on the road with his compatriot Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal), but clipped a barrier in the final two kilometres.
After catching his bar on a banner, Van Aert went down awkwardly, legs splayed, and stayed prone at the side of the road.
He was forced to abandon the stage and was then taken to hospital, his Jumbo-Visma team later confirming the 24-year-old suffered a deep cut to his right leg.
Since then, Van Aert has been focusing on his recovery and in December was named as part of Jumbo-Visma’s squad for the 2020 Tour de France.
That’s all for 2019. If you enjoyed that why not wander down memory lane with the biggest news stories of 2018 if you’re fed up with talking to your family this festive period.
Who knows what the sport of cycling will produce in 2020, the only guarantee is that it’s unlikely to be dull.