Yep, it’s that time of year folks. A time to pause and reflect on the year that’s been, and look ahead to the one about to begin. Hugely subjective, of course. But here’s what we reckon.
Best ride of 2015:
Peter Sagan at the World Championships. Pulled the peloton’s pants down in the closing stages with virtually no team-mates to help him. Superb.
Worst crash of 2015:
There were some shockers, including Lauren Rowney’s in the Netherlands, but it’s still no contest. MTN-Qhubekah’s Matt Brammeier at the Tour of Utah was involved in one of the worst high-speed race crashes we’ve ever seen. Lucky to be alive.
Inspirational moment of 2015:
Taylor Phinney’s win of stage 1 at the USA Pro Challenge, returning from a career-threatening leg injury.
Most improved rider of 2015:
Voila! France’s Thibaut Pinot appears to have finally learned how to descend on par with most of the other mortals in the peloton – and is an infinitely more dangerous rider as an immediate result. Good for him.
‘Oh-shit’ organisation disorganisation moment of 2015:
It was a hot field, sadly. There was not one but two ‘deflating banner’ incidents during the World Tour in 2015. The first happened on the streets of Adelaide at the Tour Down Under prologue/exhibition race in January. The second came a few months later at the Tour of Flanders. Thankfully neither incident affected the outcome. A dishonourable mention goes to the level crossing incident at Paris-Roubaix. But Shimano wins for the multiple incidents involving its spares vehicles in 2015. Doh.
Favourite rider of 2015:
Geraint Thomas (just ahead of Adam Hansen). We already liked the Welshman enormously, then we read his book. Brilliant.
Controversial moment of 2015:
There were many, but Nibali hitching a ride on the Astana team car at the Vuelta gets the gong. It still looks nuts watching it again many months later. What were they thinking?!
Riders to watch in 2016:
Three-way tie. David Formolo (Cannondale), Louis Meintjes (Lampre-Merida) and Rohan Dennis (BMC). Also be very interesting to see how Wiggo goes in Rio.
Biggest cycling stories of 2016?
1) Terror. Given the highly unstable security climate in Europe at the moment you’d have to think there will be a lot of VERY nervous people during the spring classics this year, and later at the TDF. Here’s hoping nothing happens. But it’s hard to imagine how organisers and police could stop something if an individual or group is determined to cause havoc 😦
2) Rio. It’s an Olympic year with all the usual plots and subplots. Sadly, the Olympic cycling track program continues to shrink. But there’s still going to be some cracking racing. The Men’s Team Pursuit should be epic.
3) Qatar. World Championships in the desert. Should be interesting. Surely one for the sprinters this time.
4) Gerrans vs Matthews. Forget the spin doctoring, it’s simmering. Will it boil over? We reckon only an injury to one of the two riders at a key moment in the season can stop it. Hard to see both staying at OGE beyond 2016. Milano-Sanremo and the Ardennes week could be quite tense.
5) Tinkov vs the World. Sure he’s a complete nut. But we still kind of like the guy. Will he follow through with his threat to pull out from the WorldTour at the end of 2016? It’s a story likely to bubble away all year, generating plenty of publicity for himself and his team. At the moment we reckon he might stay on, and this is all just marketing genius.