Top eight news stories of the year: Olympics, Tour de France, Jumbo-Visma, and more

The most-read news stories from 2021

Top news stories of 2021
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The cycling calendar returned to somewhat normality in 2021, leaving plenty for us to get our teeth into.

With the Grand Tours and some dramatic Classics accompanied by the year-late Olympics, the news schedule provided some brilliant moments throughout the year.

From confusion in Tokyo to some astounding physics-defying skill, we detail the top eight news stories of the year, so relive 2021 with these picks.

BMX rider crashes after official walks onto course at Tokyo Olympics

Tokyo Olympics

(Image credit: Getty)

A few days before the beginning of the Tokyo Olympics, Dutch BMX rider Niek Kimmann was warming up around the track by navigating a couple of jumps and moguls. 

However, he inadvertently crashed into an official who was attempting to cross the course during his training lap, resulting in a Kimmann suffering a small fracture in his kneecap. 

Fortunately though, this did little to affect he 25-year-old's preparations, as he managed to win the Men's BMX gold medal days later, despite the pain in his knee. 

Dutch riders thought they were racing for gold in Tokyo Olympics women's road race

Annemiek van Vleuten

(Image credit: Getty)

Annemiek van Vleuten crossed the line at the Fuji International Speedway circuit at the Tokyo Olympics celebrating, believing that she had secured the gold medal in the women's road race.

However, she failed to realise that Anna Kiesenhofer had already finished minutes before, the Austrian collapsing to the floor after the finish such was the magnitude of the amateur rider's achievement .The Dutch team, meanwhile, looked absolutely shellshocked.

Anna van der Breggen also believed the Dutch squad was riding for gold, not noticing the fact they hadn't managed to catch up with Kiesenhofer yet. She claimed the communication in the race was confusing, meaning her teammate had to settle for silver.

Government finally responds to concerns about ‘stay local’ advice for exercise, telling people to use common sense

As the UK went back into lockdown at the start of 2021, cyclist's attentions turned to how far they were allowed to go for their daily exercise. Authorities issued restrictions on everyday life in the hope of reducing the spread of Covid-19, including limitations on exercise like cycling and running. 

The guidance stated that exercise should be limited to once per day and that people shouldn't travel outside of their local area. 

Campaign groups and cyclists worried the vague rules could dissuade people from exercising, and sought guidance on the situation. 

Minister for sport Nigel Huddleston attempted to clarify the rules, stating that people should use “common sense” to define staying local. However, this did little to make the situation clearer, with organisations interpreting the ruling as ambiguous. 

'There had been some warning signs': The ride that changed one cyclist's life forever

One day in 2019, Damien Bird set out on a ride that would change his life forever. In this news story, he explained what happened and why he's thankful that he's still alive and able to ride his bike, albeit at a considerably reduced intensity.

Speaking exclusively to Cycling Weekly, Bird describes how feeling dizzy and light-headed at the end of one ride resulted in him discovering that he had irregular rhythms in his heart, while blood tests revealed an iron deficiency and that he had coeliac disease. 

It wasn't until a couple of months alter though that he had another dizzy spell while cycling, though this time he blacked out and woke up lying on the road. Bird explains that he had fallen unconscious on the bike, smashing his helmet, injuring his shoulder, lacerating his liver and suffering a contusion of the lung from the fall. 

A consultant later informed him that he likely suffered a cardiac arrest.

Confined to hospital for three weeks, doctors ran a series of tests. Their best guess was that Bird had arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy (ARVC), and so to guard against future risk they implanted a cardioverter defibrillator (ICD).

A compelling story, Bird is still riding, but understandably cannot go above an effort where he can't speak in full sentences

Under-23 rider defies laws of physics as he grabs onto back of rival's bike to avoid crash

Trofeo Sportivi Sestesi

(Image credit: CiclismoLive)

This video had the cycling world in disbelief. 

How had this Under-23 rider managed to avoid falling from his bike by grabbing onto a fellow cyclist beside him? 

Leading Ag2r rider, Paul Lapeira, swerved to avoid a dog running back up towards the riders, causing the second Ag2r rider, Valentin Retailleau, to become unsettled behind him. 

As Retailleau starts to fall, he grabs onto the back of Beltrami's Lorenzo Balestra, holding into his thighs as Balestra somehow manages to stay upright and slows at the side of the road.

A remarkably baffling moment.

Tour de France 2021 LIVE stage 21: Pogačar's coronation and Champs-Élysées sprint

With the entire cycling world gripped by the Tour de France, Cycling Weekly's live blog had huge audiences following along, desperate to be informed about the latest events in the race.

All jerseys were basically decided by the final stage - expect for the points jersey. Mark Cavendish led Michael Mathews by 35 points, and was looking to break the record of most Tour de France stage wins ever with victory along the Champs-Élysées. While Wout van Aert denied him that achievement with a win in Paris, Cavendish's four stage wins in 2021 saw him equal Eddy Merckx's record of 34 at the Tour.

Relive the 21st stage by reading back through the live blog, with the race report summarising the key points from the race too. 

Mathieu van der Poel 'didn't know they would remove ramp', which caused crash at Tokyo Olympics

Mathieu van der Poel

(Image credit: Getty)

Mathieu van der Poel fell heavily in the opening laps of the mountain bike event at the Tokyo Olympics, claiming that he didn't know a ramp on the course during practice laps, situated on the downhill section where he crashed, would be removed for the actual race.

The Dutchman did manage to get back to his feet, but was well off the pace and subsequently abandoned before the finish. He also went to hospital with an injured hip afterwards. 

A controversial moment from the Olympics, but Dutch coach Gerben de Knegt dispelled van der Poel's claims, stating that he had been told several times the ramp would be removed. 

Young fan who 'led' Tour of Britain breakaway presented as Jumbo-Visma's additional rider ahead of final stage

Jumbo-Visma

(Image credit: Getty)

Perhaps the most heart-warming moment of 2021, the Tour of Britain saw a young fan, who managed to keep the pace with a stage seven breakaway, presented as Jumbo-Visma's fifth rider on the final day of action. 

Xander Graham rode ahead of the six escapees during the stage to Edinburgh for around 50 seconds, and when the break pulled alongside him, the youngster was awarded a bottle from Jumbo-Visma's Pascal Eenkhoorn.

It was a moment captured on live television, and the images that accompanied it went viral during and after the stage, many fans pointing out that the UCI's early-season and since changed ban on gifting bottles to spectators contradicted the spirit of the sport.

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Hi, I'm a Trainee News Writer at Cycling Weekly. 


I have worked for Future across its various sports titles since December 2020, writing news for Cycling Weekly, FourFourTwo, Golf Monthly, Rugby World and Advnture. I am currently studying for a NCTJ qualification alongside my role as Trainee News Writer at the company. 


Prior to joining Future I attended Cardiff University, earning a degree in Journalism & Communications.