By Tim Bonville-Ginn published
The WorldTour neo-pros of 2020 had a lot to live up to after the class of 2019 put in such an amazing display with Remco Evenepoel and Tadej Pogačar starting their WorldTour careers. But there were still some stand-out performances.
Here we take a look at the five top performing neo-pros of the disjointed 2020 season.
There was a lot of excitement for João Almeida to join Deceuninck - Quick-Step for 2020 and he really showed why as the Portuguese youngster was consistently performing at all the best races he competed in.
The race that really put him on the map, though, has to be the Giro d'Italia where he started by coming second in the opening time trial to Palermo behind world champion, Filippo Ganna (Ineos Grenadiers).
He then took the overall lead three stages later and held it for most of the race before losing the jersey in dramatic fashion on stage 18 when he was dropped by the Rohan Denni-led peloton on the Passo dello Stelvio.
Almeida's worst finish placing, though, was 28th, which is incredible for a Grand Tour debutant, especially when it was his first year as a WorldTour rider.
Another rider who put in an immense performance at the Giro, albeit in a different style. Danish rider, Mikkel Bjerg (UAE Team Emirates) managed three top-10s in the Italian Grand Tour over various terrain with two third place finishes, one on the opening time trial and one on the summit finish of stage nine.
Bjerg was one of the designated riders supporting their team sprinter, Fernando Gaviria, who didn't manage a win, but the Danish rider got into plenty of breakaways and even wore the white jersey for best young rider on stage two.
Bjerg managed 17th representing Denmark in the World Championships time trial at Imola in Italy as well as some other solid time trial rides in races like the Volta ao Algarve, showing he definitely has a strong future.
Straight in with a win at the Tour de l'Ain beating Vuelta a España winner Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) in a mountain sprint to go into yellow on stage one of the Tour de France build-up race, Andrea Bagioli (Deceuninck - Quick-Step) looks to be a real talent.
The Italian continued his excellent rides with two top-10s at the Vuelta, also managing second place overall at the Coppi e Bartali as well as more top results at De Brabantse Pilj, La Flèche Wallonne, Giro dell'Emilia and more.
A rider that looks to suit the Ardennes Classics perfectly, he should be yet another very talented youngster who can add to the already long list of up-and-coming puncheur stars.
While only taking a solitary win on stage one of the Herald Sun Tour right at the start of the season, Alberto Dainese (Team Sunweb) put in an excellent performance all year with some very promising rides.
The Italian took few top-10 rides at the UAE Tour and the Tour of Poland as well as taking third behind Sam Bennett (Deceuninck - Quick-Step) and Giacomo Nizzolo (NTT Pro Cycling) at the Race Torquay, which added to his excellent start to his season in Australia.
In some sprints he did lose his way a bit and he was also caught out in a couple of crashes including at the Tirreno-Adriatico. But the young Italian does have some great speed and is yet another talented sprinter coming out of Italy.
While CCC Team as a whole did not have a good season at all, Attila Valter along with Jakub Mareczko somewhat saved the year as they both dominated at the Tour of Hungary. It was the young Hungarian Valter who took the final stage and the overall title in his home tour.
He also made his Grand Tour debut at the Giro d'Italia where he had a solid ride getting a top-10 on stage 20 from a breakaway.
Valter will be joining Groupama-FDJ for 2021 after CCC folds at the end of 2020, as he looks to develop further as a potential contender in some big stage races as well as supporting Thibaut Pinot and David Gaudu in the Grand Tours.
Hi, I'm one of Cycling Weekly's content writers for the web team responsible for writing stories on racing, tech, updating evergreen pages as well as the weekly email newsletter. Proud Yorkshireman from the UK's answer to Flanders, Calderdale, go check out the cobbled climbs!
I started watching cycling back in 2010, before all the hype around London 2012 and Bradley Wiggins at the Tour de France. In fact, it was Alberto Contador and Andy Schleck's battle in the fog up the Tourmalet on stage 17 of the Tour de France.
It took me a few more years to get into the journalism side of things, but I had a good idea I wanted to get into cycling journalism by the end of year nine at school and started doing voluntary work soon after. This got me a chance to go to the London Six Days, Tour de Yorkshire and the Tour of Britain to name a few before eventually joining Eurosport's online team while I was at uni, where I studied journalism. Eurosport gave me the opportunity to work at the world championships in Harrogate back in the awful weather.
After various bar jobs, I managed to get my way into Cycling Weekly in late February of 2020 where I mostly write about racing and everything around that as it's what I specialise in but don't be surprised to see my name on other news stories.
When not writing stories for the site, I don't really switch off my cycling side as I watch every race that is televised as well as being a rider myself and a regular user of the game Pro Cycling Manager. Maybe too regular.
My bike is a well used Specialized Tarmac SL4 when out on my local roads back in West Yorkshire as well as in northern Hampshire with the hills and mountains being my preferred terrain.
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