One of these guys is really short | Photo by ALAIN JOCARD/AFP via Getty Images
DATELINE- March 17th 2020.
As the coronavirus creeps along infecting more and more people, more and more cycling races get cancelled. Just today Paris-Roubaix, La Fleche Wallonne, and Liege-Bastogne-Liege got cancelled. It is a matter of time before all April races go the same way and we finish off May where the Giro is already goners.
So it is weird. Hopefully sometime we get back to relative. normality and we get bike races again. We can dream of moving the spring cobbles to fall. Or the worst happens and the rest of the season gets cancelled. But either way we are facing at best a very split season where had a pretty normal winter build up then a long hiatus where regardless of what the riders do in training their forms will be way off what they normally are and then…sometime…they resume training for new races like the Tour or Vuelta or Olympics or Lombardy or the Tour Down Under in 2021.
So basically we are in uncharted territory where among other things we just had a de facto separate season from January-early March, from TDU to Paris-Nice and most of the races in between happening (until the end). Let us then have an End of Season Recap! Let’s vote on the best rider of the winter and whatever else! Let‘s start with a recap of the winners of the races:
Skip ahead if this is BORING.
World Tour races:
- TDU GC: Richie Porte; sprint stage winners: stage 1 Sam Bennett, stage 2 & 4: Caleb Ewan, stage 5 Giacomo Nizzolo, Willunga Hill: Matthew Holmes
- CEGORR: Dries Devenyns won with Sivakov and Impey rounding out the podium
- UAE Tour GC: Adam Yates with Pogacar and Lutsenko rounding out the podium. Sprint stages won: Stage 1 Ackers, stage 2 (Hatta Dam) Ewan, Stage 4 Groany. Yates won the 1st big climb and was 3rd after Pog and Lutsy on the second time.
- Omloop Het Nieuwsblad Jasper Stuyven wins beating Lampaert at the line with SKA in 3rd.
- Paris-Nice GC: Max Schachmann wins with Benoot 2nd and the HiguitaMonster 3rd. Stage winners: 1 Schachmann, 2 Nizzolo 3 Ivan Garcia 4 (ITT) SKA 5 Bonifazio 6 Benoot 7 Nairoman
First, single day races
- Race Torquay: Sean Bennett
- The Trofeos: three races won by Moschetti, Buchmann, and Soler
- GP Marseillaise: Cosnefroy
- Trofeo Laigueglia: Ciccone
- Almeria: Ackers
- Faun-Ardeche: Cavagna
- Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne: Asgreen w/ Nizzolo and Kristoff rounding out the podium
- Royal Bernard Drome: Simon Clarke
- Le Samyn: Hugo! (he’s now a one word name like Cher)
- GP Jean-Pierre Monsere: Jakobsen
Now stage races:
- Herald Sun Tour: GC: Jai Hindley with Kaden Groves winning 3 sprints to 2 for Alberto Dainese
- San Juan GC: Remco with Ganna 2nd and Oscar Sevilla 3rd. Stage winners: Barbier, Gaviria, ITT: Remco, Gaviria again, Florez, Stybar, and Gavaria for a 3rd time.
- Tour Colombia 2.1 GC: HiguitaMonster followed by Danny Martinez and John Caicedo in an EF sweep. Stage winners: TTT EF, Molano, Molano, Higuita, Molano, Danny Martinez.
- Valenciana GC: Pogacar with Haig and Tao G-H 2nd and 3rd. Stage winners: Groany, Pogs, Groany again, Pogs again, and Jakobsen
- Etole Besseges GC Cosnefroy. Bettiol won the ITT while the stage winners were Brunel, Cort, De Bondt, and O’Connor
- Tour de la Provence GC Nairoman and how! Vlasov and Lutsy 2nd and 3rd. Stage winners: Bouhanni, Vlasov, Quintana, and Owen Doull
- Murcia: GC Xandro Meurisse
- Algarve GC: Remco then Schachmann and Superman Lopez. Stage winners: Jakobsen, Remco, Cees Bol, Lopez and Remco in the ITT
- Andalucia GC: Fuglsang followed by Haig and Landa. Stage winners: Foogs, Serrano (remember?) Foogs again, Haig, and Teuns in the ITT.
- Var GC Quintana with Bardet and Porte 2nd and 3rd. Stage winners: Anthony Perez, Nairomann and Julien Bernard
Okay!@ Those were the races. I wish we could put multiple polls in one thread but alas, leave your comments in the um comment section. One thing in writing up the stage race winners was how certain riders just dominated certain and multiple stage races: Remco won two stage races as did Quintana. Fuglsang was rampant in Andalucia while Adam Yates was all over UAE Tour. Pogs owned Valenciana. So who was the best GC rider?
To me it was Nairo Quintana with Remco, Yates, and Foogs tied for 2nd. An argument could be made for each and you can do so below. But to me Nairoman’s climb halfway up Ventoux was THE most spectacular day in racing this winter. He just buried the opposition including Pinot and others. And then he did it again in the Haut Var race. I give him the nod over Yates because of how he beat basically the same competition in Haut Var or whatever it is called this year as opposed to Yates being 3rd the 2nd time up Jabel Hafeet. Though it must be said Adam Yates’ 1st win was spectacular also and over Pogs etc.
Then there was Foogs in Spain just all-round better than the others. My guess is that Q and Yates would beat him on a HC climb right now but not by much and Foogs’ was so good in all the stages. He just throttled his one race. Remco was different of course. Not the climber the other three are but the best TT guy. And he beat the Paris-Nice winner in San Juan.
So best climbers of the winter:
- Wrong Yates
- Lopez? Hindley? nah Lutsenko! Unanimous winner of the Rider You Least Want To Team Up With Cause He’s Gonna Make You Miserable Then Beat You At The Line.
Now on to the sprinters. This is really tough because there were only a few real head-to-head matchups. But my uninformed rankings:
- Nizzolo! Stage winner at both TDU and Paris-Nice. 2nd at Torquay and KBK (1st from the bunch). He’s back baby!
- Groany. Beat Jakobsen 2-1. Just looked awfully fast.
- Ewan? Sure. 1st @ Hatta Dam is 1st in my heart. Don‘t @ me.
- Ackers? They both won races against decent competition and also lost some. I dunno.
- Jakobsen. Did beat Groany once and did win once in Algarve but also lost twice to Groany and was 3rd to Bol and Modolo.
- Bennett Started off hot winning stage 1 of TDU and Race Torquay then was a fading 2nd to Caleb on Hatta Dam and then disappeared.
Now for the puncheurs:
- Remco. His TT skills aren’t strictly applicable here but to me they just magnify how good a puncheur he is.
- Schachmann. Algarve puts Remco 1st but Max’s Paris-Nice win was a nice step up in all-round goodness.
- Jasper Stuyven. A strong 3rd here. Omloop winner and yeah I know for some of you that makes him the best rider this year. He’s third here so there! Great stage 2 at Paris-Nice and a tasty 5th at KBK.
- Tiej. 2nd @ Paris-Nice with a stage win was setting him up for a killer cobbles campaign. And yes, next year when I make the VDS prices I will remember the form he was in. Sorry/not sorry.
- Ciccone. let’s go outside the ‘ol box for 5th place. Nice win he had in Italy.
Best Young Riders- non-Remco edition
- Pogs. 1st at Valenciana, and 2nd at UAE. Imagine at the Vuelta: Pogs, Wrong Yates, Nairoman. HiguitaMonster. Foogs. Gives me chills.
- Higuita 1st at the not very climby Colombia 2.1 then 3rd at Parfis-Nice where he won best young rider by 15 freaking minutes. So nice. So small. Loved seeing him in the echelons at Paris-Nice.
- Vlasov. Pretty damn stunning stage 2 win at Provence 2nd overall there. Want to see more of that.
- I’m gonna put Eddie Dunbar here! Along with David Gaudu! Nice racing at Provence and UAE for both of them.
- Hindley. Nice team win really at Herald Sun Tour but he’s showing promise- as is his whole team. Doom? What’s that?
- Young sprinters are hard to come by this year but let’s give a mention to Groves and Dainese who provided fun at the Herald Sun tour with their duels.
- SKA. Seriously good ITT @ Paris-Nice.
- Teuns. Did he seem to be losing his form in Paris-Nice after a great start to his year? Like Bennett?
There. Correct me in the comments please.