Top-10 performances of the 2020 men's road season

We look back to some of the most incredible rides of 2020

10. Mathieu van der Poel and Wout van Aert, Tour of Flanders

Wout van Aert and Mathieu van der Poel during the Tour of Flanders 2020 (Photo by Luc Claessen/Getty Images)
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The battle that we wanted to see all year finally properly came about in the biggest race on Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) and Mathieu van der Poel's (Alpecin-Fenix) calendar, the Tour of Flanders.

They were head and shoulders above everyone but Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck - Quick-Step), who looked to spoil the party before crashing into a motorbike and out of the race.

Van Aert and Van der Poel powered on without the newly crowned world champion and battled for the win with the Dutch national champion, Van der Poel, coming out on top by the narrowest of margins in the two-up sprint to the line.

9. Nairo Quintana, Chalet Reynard stage three Tour de la Provence

Nairo Quintana wins stage three of the Tour de La Provence 2020 (Photo by Luc Claessen/Getty Images)
(Image credit: Getty Images)

This ride didn't seem too amazing to begin with, as Nairo Quintana (Arkéa-Samsic) was definitely the strongest climber in the race, but looking at it again, the Colombian climber put in a superbly fast ascent up to Chalet Reynard on Mont Ventoux.

So fast, in fact, that he unofficially beat the record by Marco Pantani by eight seconds. While there was a tailwind, this was still an outstanding performance by Quintana and one we hadn't seen from him for some time.

He went on to put in more impressive rides over the season before fading in the Tour de France due to injury and then getting tangled in a French police controversy, but this ride was something special.

8. Jai Hindley, Tao Geoghegan Hart, Wilco Kelderman, stage 15 Giro d'Italia

Tao Geoghegan Hart on stage 15 of the 2020 Giro d'Italia (Photo : Yuzuru SUNADA)
(Image credit: Yuzuru SUNADA)

Up until stage 15 of the Giro d'Italia, João Almeida (Deceuninck - Quick-Step) was in control of the race on his Grand Tour debut, but Team Sunweb had other ideas as they had two riders in the top 10 with Wilco Kelderman in second place.

The pace was ramped up and quickly Almeida started losing touch. Jai Hindley, who had lost time in the time trial, worked tirelessly for his leader Kelderman with Tao Geoghegan Hart (Ineos Grenadiers) just sat in the wheels.

Geoghegan Hart came round in the last few hundred metres to take the stage as he, along with Hindley and Kelderman, dealt their first blow to Almeida's overall hopes.

It would prove to be a major turning point in the 'fight for pink' as the race headed deeper into the mountains.

7. Hugh Carthy, Angliru stage 12 Vuelta a España

Hugh Carthy on stage 12 of the Vuelta a España 2020 (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
(Image credit: Getty Images)

It was only a matter of time before Hugh Carthy (EF Pro Cycling) pulled off a big mountain top finish in a Grand Tour, but to take the Alto de l'Angliru at the Vuelta a España the way he did was exceptional.

The 26-year-old Brit had been superb for the whole race, but it was on the vicious gradients of one of Spain's most iconic and difficult climbs where the climber from Preston really stepped up and put in a stage winning attack that ultimately led him to third in the overall standings in Madrid.

There was a series of attacks from various riders with Enric Mas (Movistar) and Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers) both trying their luck as race leader Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) struggled on the steep gradients.

But it was Carthy who managed to make it over the lip of the climb solo to ride to victory alongside the mountain top lake, joining some of the greats of cycling who have won atop it.

6: Julian Alaphilippe, World Championships road race - Imola, Emilia-Romagna

Julian Alaphilippe wins the World Championship road race at Imola (Photo by Tim de Waele/Getty Images)
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The organisers couldn't have put a more suitable route together for Julian Alaphilippe than this one in Emilia-Romagna, and that showed as the French star put in a masterful performance to take his first rainbow jersey and one of his few remaining career targets.

The race circuit was peppered with short but hellishly steep climbs and the peloton was soon ground down to a small group including Alaphilippe, as well as Roglič, Van Aert, Marc Hirschi (Team Suweb), Michał Kwiatkowski (Ineos Grenadiers), and Jakob Fuglsang (Astana).

Van Aert looked to be in control until the final climb until Alaphilippe put in an immense attack in the big ring on the steepest of gradients.

That decimated the group and saw him power away over the top and solo to victory on the race track in Imola.

5: Remco Evenepoel, stage four Tour of Poland

Remco Evenepoel wins stage four of the Tour of Poland 2020 (Photo by Luc Claessen/Getty Images)
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Attacking before most live TV coverage had even started, Remco Evenepoel (Deceuninck - Quick-Step) put on an amazing show on stage four of the Tour of Poland as he pushed on with just over 50km to go.

Riding away from the other favourites, who decided not to chase until it was too late, the former European time trial champion remained calm and looked exceptionally powerful even on the final climb.

He took the stage by almost two minutes over his closest rival, stealing the overall title from Richard Carapaz (Ineos), who crashed earlier in the day, a crash he never really recovered from until late in the Tour de France.

Evenepoel paid tribute to teammate, Fabio Jakobsen, who had been involved in the horrific crash between him and Dylan Groenewegen (Jumbo-Visma) and was in hospital with very serious injuries, later in the year. Remco also suffered an awful crash, both riders have now recovered and are now training again.

4. Marc Hirschi, stage 12 Tour de France

Marc Hirschi on stage 12 of the 2020 Tour de France (Photo : Yuzuru SUNADA)
(Image credit: Yuzuru SUNADA)

Marc Hirschi went on to win La Flèche Wallonne, but it was his ride on stage 12 of the Tour de France that really stood out in his season. The day was the longest on the Tour as they headed into the Massif Central and it was a tactical masterclass by Team Sunweb.

The break was brought back with around 45km to go by team-mates Søren Kragh Andersen and Tiesj Benoot, they were shortly followed by Hirschi along with some other riders, the Swiss rider then attacked with 28km to go to ride away solo over undulating terrain.

He took the stage on his own, taking his first WorldTour win with it, and it was Pierre Rolland (B&B Hotels-Vital Concept) who took second on the day with Kragh Andersen taking third.

3. Rohan Dennis, Tao Geoghegan Hart and Jai Hindley, Stelvio stage 18 Giro d'Italia

Rohan Dennis leads on the Stelvio on stage 18 of the 2020 Giro d'Italia (Photo by LUCA BETTINI/AFP via Getty Images)
(Image credit: AFP via Getty Images)

A day that completely flipped the Giro d'Italia on its head. Stage 18, the queen stage, was decided by one unbelievable ride by former world time trial champion, Rohan Dennis (Ineos Grenadiers).

It was Sunweb who went to the front first, dropping the then pink jersey Almeida, but one-by-one they dropped off the front and it was the turn of Dennis to start pacing the pack obliterating the peloton with 50km to go, leaving only Geoghegan Hart, Hindley and Kelderman on the wheel.

But 5km later, Kelderman, the new virtual pink jersey, was in trouble and off the back as Dennis continued to put in an amazing pace, putting in a record time. The two Sunweb riders then struggled to get their jackets on for the snowy descent.

Geoghegan Hart led up the final climb as Hindley sat on his wheel and beat him in the sprint. Kelderman took pink that day but lost it two days later to his team-mate who then lost it the day after.

2. Filippo Ganna, six time trial wins and one road race win

Filippo Ganna riding the stage 14 time trial at the Giro d'Italia (Luca Bettini/AFP via Getty Images)
(Image credit: AFP via Getty Images)

It is impossible to pick just one ride by the world time trial champion Filippo Ganna, so we've gone with all six of his emphatic wins on the time trial bike and one on the road bike.

Starting with the Tirreno-Adriatico, where he averaged 500 watts over the entire 10km course, beating everyone comfortably as he took his first WorldTour victory of the season.

The World Championships came next where the Italian absolutely destroyed the opposition, beating Wout van Aert by 26 seconds on the day.

Then came the Giro, where he put in a real masterclass. Taking stage one and the pink jersey by 22 seconds over Almeida, he lost it a couple days later but then came back with a bang on stage five to win his first-ever road stage as a pro rider.

He then completed his set of four wins by winning the next two time trials by 26 seconds over Rohan Dennis on stage 14 and 32 seconds over Victor Campenaerts (NTT Pro Cycling) on stage 21.

1. Tadej Pogačar, Tour de France stage 20

Tadej Pogačar on his way to victory in the Tour de France time trial (Photo: Yuzuru SUNADA)
(Image credit: Yuzuru SUNADA)

Everyone thought as we went into stage 20 of the Tour de France 2020 that the race was all already decided. Roglič was the stronger time trialist and had dominated the race up until then.

So what happened next was unforgettable. Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) set off at lightning speed, going fastest through the first two checkpoints before the climb up to La Planche des Belles Filles with Roglič losing time.

Pogačar put in the perfect bike change as he hit the climb, whereas Roglič, who now looked to be suffering, made a very clumsy one.

The time ticked against the yellow jersey as Pogačar powered up the climb, winning the stage by 1-21 over Tom Dumoulin (Jumbo-Visma), putting 1-56 into Roglič and taking the overall by 59 seconds.

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