Monday, 31 December 2012

2012 highlights

Yes, it is that time of the year and I'm a bit late. But, what better way to end 2012 but to take a look at the very best moments, at least from my point of view.

Readers of this blog will recognize as I say that this is difficult to do as cycling, as any sport, is so connected to emotions. But, where is the fun if one cannot have an opinion, right?

I've divided the year into certain categories, to be a bit systematic in my approach:

Best attack
Tom Boonen's attack during Paris-Roubaix - With some 60 kilometers to go, Tommeke takes off and doesn't look back. I remember his DS saying in a video "Amazing, he's still going over 50 km/h!" Now this number could be all talk but anyway Boonen walked the walk and made the Belgians sing and dance his techno song once more.

Boonen breaks away

Downloaded here.

Honourable mention: De Gendt's long-distance haul on the penultimate stage of the giro, he almost pipped Hesjedal for pink.

Most emotional win
Matteo Rabattini's stage 15 of the giro - arguably the most heroic stage win of the year. What cycling is all about really, an attack just 18 km into the 169 km stage and held off, even as Rodriguez joined him just 400 meters to go.

Best teammate
Edvald Boasson Hagen - Yes, I'm biased but I know I'm not alone as Velonews also awarded him the price. To selflessly put his own ambitions aside and work for Wiggo and Sky like he did during the tour was amazing. Of course, many members of the Sky-train did the same, and deserve a mention as Sky brought some stars to France. EBH dropped Basso and other top notch climbers from his back wheel, not once, not twice but several times in the mountains. Still his palmares in July had of a couple of podium spots. That's what true champions do; when they are not allowed to win, they set themselves new goals and deliver the goods.

Best team

Team Sky and Omega-Pharma Quickstep. Not only referring to the rankings as pictured, but also to other criteria. As mentioned Sky's domination at the tour, and the fact that many different riders did win on OPQS are some of the key elements in my opinion.

Also worth a mention is the total destruction of Radioshack during the tour, which mysteriously gave them the best team award. Anyone watching the last couple of days witnessed teammates not cooperating. Of course you can always blame the UCI point system as always but still.

Best race
The Olympic Road Race for women produced some of the best racing I've seen all year. Hopefully they get the recognition they deserve in 2013.

Best cycling media outlet
1. Velonews - This was a tight race. I have to say it's just the last couple of years I've followed Velonews closely, mostly due to the fact that they traditionally have been more oriented towards the American audience. However, Velonews has taken huge steps the last year, clearly the crew is doing something right.

2. Velonation - this crew has a slightly different approach than Velonews, as Velonation has a more in-depth style, going further and deeper than any other outlet. Perhaps not first with the last but very well connected in the different aspects of the pro cycling world and I do enjoy the interviews.

3. Bikeradar - tech style. I'm not that into tech myself, I want my equipment to function. That said I do care about detail, style and quality. So, James Huang et al - here is to you guys.

Best blogger
Inner Ring - not much to say really. Balancing news, in-depth analysis of everything from races, climbs and teams to the financial elements and UCI rule book, he's on it with an objective point of view.  Funny or sad, depending on your preferences, is that he is seldom mention in #FFs. Probably because everybody is following him anyway. If you don't already, get your head out of the sand.

Worst team
Astana, Katusha - Ethics, finances. Hiring old school dopers, firing old-school dopers whilst being catched for doping yourself, the list goes on. Dodgy as few, they should attend Branding 101. Radioshack's top manager Johan Bruyneel deserves a mention too, dragging a team down. There is a "t" in team, and there are some 70-90 people involved in a team so the responsibility is huge. Sadly, the riders and other staffers suffer, that's how the cycling environment of today. Nuf said.

Best marketing
The RCS and OPQS - Open, friendly, fan-oriented, available and innovative.

Worst downfall
Lance Armstrong - you all know the story and my point of view. I unfollowed Big Tex recently, he's not worth it.

Nice guys
NYvelocity and Cyclismas for setting up the Paul Kimmage fund.

Most embarrassing moment
Phillip Hindes' deliberate crash and the British journalists who defended him - one of the top Olympic controversies during the London Olympics, the place where good sportsmanship should reign took a beating. BC sprint coach Jan van Eijden said, rather blunt and/or arrogantly, that "something must have been lost in translation as Hindes just recently moved to England." Really, on national TV Mr. Eijden, please reconsider before you tell everybody watching that they are fools. To take advantage of the existing rulebook like that was not good, nor was the "national Olympic googles" some of the British journalists had during the Games. Hopefully it will be long until we see this happen again (at least four years).

Hindes on the downside

Downloaded here.

Man of the year
Travis Tygart - without a doubt. He went where very few had dared to go, he did it with integrity, objectivity and with no intention to back down for the immense pressure he and his crew were exposed to. He changed cycling for life, as of now, we are just learning what will happen. This case will tear through cycling for years to come on every level.

Bring on 2013!

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