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GC riders

Geraint Thomas (Sky)

Geraint Thomas won the 2018 Tour de France (Sunada)

In a year when so many big names attempted ambitious Grand Tour doubles, Geraint Thomas ultimately enjoyed the greatest success by putting everything into the Tour de France. He neglected his usual classics program to focus on stage racing, and followed up promising early season performances with victory at the Dauphine and a perfect ride at the Tour.

Annemiek van Vleuten (Mitchelton-Scott)

Annemiek van Vleuten is the 2018 time trial world champion as well as Giro winner Photo : Yuzuru SUNADA

36-year old Van Vleuten enjoyed a plethora of success this year, reflected by her being crowned champion of the WorldTour, but it was in stage races where she really excelled – not just in her crushing victory at the world’s toughest race, the Giro Rosa, but also for defending her Boels Ladies Tour title.

Climbers

Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott)

Simon Yates on stage 15 of the 2018 Vuelta a España (Sunada)

No rider attacked more relentlessly in the mountains than Simon Yates, and he was rewarded with wins on summit including Gran Sasso d’Italia, La Colmiane, and Alto Les Praeres. Plus, of course, a maiden Grand Tour overall victory at the Vuelta a España.

Amanda Spratt (Mitchelton-Scott)

Amanda Spratt, winner of the 2018 Tour Down Under. Image: Sunada

One of the year’s most improved riders was Amanda Spratt, who climbed her way to victory at Emakumeen Euskal Bira and third at the Giro Rosa. Were it not for the irrepressible might of Anna van der Breggen, the Aussie would also have been the year’s World and Liège-Bastogne-Liège champion.

Sprinters

Elia Viviani (Quick-Step Floors)

Viviani cleaned up at the Giro and the Vuelta (Sunada)

A transfer from Sky to Quick-Step Floors turned out to be a masterstroke from Elia Viviani, who this year flourished to become an elite sprinter capable of beating anyone. The Italian accumulated 18 wins in total, over a third of which came in bunch finishes at the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a España.

Marta Bastianelli (Ale Cipollini)

Bastianelli wins the 2018 Ghent-Wevelgem (Photo by Luc Claessen/Getty Images)

No woman, not even Jolien D’Hoore (Mitchelton-Scott) or Kirsten Wild (Wiggle-High5), got anywhere near Marta Bastianelli’s total number of eight sprint wins in 2018. That tally included some high profile coups, too, most notably Ghent-Wevelgem and gold at the European Championships.

Rouleurs

Niki Terpstra (Quick-Step Floors)

Niki Terpstra on the Paterberg, 2018 Tour of Flanders. Photo by Yuzuru Sunada

Quick-Step Floors performed formidably as a team to achieve unprecedented success during the spring, with all of their riders happy to alternate between domestique and leadership roles. But there was one individual who stood out – Niki Terpstra, who stormed to solo victories at E3 Harelbeke, Le Samyn and the Tour of Flanders.

Anna van der Breggen (Boels-Dolmans)

Anna van der Breggen wins 2018 women’s Tour of Flanders. Photo by Luc Claessen/Getty Images

Even by her own high standards this was a stellar year for Van der Breggen, with four WorldTour-ranked Classics picked up in the spring and a first ever Worlds title achieved in the autumn. When she pulled out a gap there was simply no bringing her back, as reflected by the considerable winning margins of her biggest wins – 49 seconds at Strade Bianche, 1-08 at the Tour of Flanders, and a whopping 3-42 at the Worlds.

Puncheurs

Alejandro Valverde (Movistar)

Alejandro Valverde after winnings the 2018 Worlds road race Photo : Yuzuru SUNADA

Back in the spring, it had seemed as though the 38-year old Alejandro Valverde was at long last set to cede his status as the world’s best puncheur when for the first time since 2013 he failed to win an Ardennes Classic. But the Spaniard was resurgent towards the end of the season, following two uphill sprint wins at the Vuelta with the Worlds title he has long dreamed of.

Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (Cervelo-Bigla)

Ashleigh Moolman Pasio on stage nine of the 2018 Giro Rosa (Photo by Luc Claessen/Getty Images)

Before departing for pastures new at CCC Liv, Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio gave her Cervélo-Bigla team plenty of valuable leaving gifts throughout the year. She was a constant presence in most of the year’s biggest races, featuring at the business end of all of the key spring Classics, as well as podiuming at both the Giro Rosa and La Course.

Time triallists

Rohan Dennis (BMC)

Rohan Dennis on stage 16 of the 2018 Vuelta a España (Sunada)

Somewhat ironically, given his intention of developing into more of a GC rider, 2018 was the year that Rohan Dennis fully came of age as a time triallist. He won stages at the Giro and Vuelta, before trouncing Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) at the Worlds to confirm himself as the best in the peloton.

Ellen van Dijk (Sunweb)

Ellen van Dijk gives it everything on the line (Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images)

As was the case in many races this year, the Worlds time trial was dominated by Annemiek van Vleuten and Anna van der Breggen, but behind them another Dutchwoman, Ellen van Dijk, road to a very respectable bronze medal. That result followed three other victories against the clock, most impressively at the European Championships in Glasgow.

Domestiques

Egan Bernal (Sky)

Egan Bernal guides Geraint Thomas on stage 14 of the 2018 Tour de France (Sunada)

This 21-year old Colombian is too talented a rider to remain a domestique for much longer, but shone in the role at the 2018 Tour de France. Following a run of jaw-dropping performances, including overall victory at the Tour of California, Bernal was called up for Sky’s Tour squad – and, despite it being his first ever Grand Tour, played an essential role through his devastating pace-setting in the mountains.

Chantal Blaak (Boels-Dolmans)

Chantal Blaak wins the 2018 Amstel Gold Race (Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images)

Despite sporting the attention-grabbing rainbow jersey following her 2017 Worlds success, Chantal Blaak was often content to play a support role, making decoy attacks and setting the pace for the likes of Van der Breggen at the expense of her own ambition. Individual success was nevertheless still forthcoming, most notably in victory at Amstel Gold.

All-rounders

Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe)

Peter Sagan had another glittering year in 2018 (Photo : Yuzuru SUNADA)

He has made the extraordinary mundane, but we should never take for granted the achievements of Peter Sagan. To combine winning Paris-Roubaix with such success at the Tour de France while remaining competitive in all terrain from January to September, is the work of a true genius.

Marianne Vos (WaowDeals)

Marianne Vos (Waowdeals) at the 2018 GP Plouay Agglomeration Lorient where she finished in second place. (Owen Rogers)

This was the best year for Marianne Vos since injuries derailed her peerless career back in 2015. Only Van Vleuten bettered her haul of eight wins, which were picked up in all sorts of circumstances and terrain, ranging from a hilly final stage of the Giro Rosa, a clean sweep of sprints at the Tour of Norway, and an audacious late solo attack at the Postnord Vargarda classic.