Wednesday, 30 December 2009

2009 Review of the Cycling Year

Another year, indeed another decade, has almost passed and it's time for the first, maybe annual (if I remember), definitely not at all prestigious, Muse-ette Awards

(Disclaimer: no actual awards will be presented ... it's just me thinking out loud).

In my opinion 2009 has been a good year for the bike world. It's been a year that has seen triumph and tragedy, high profile comebacks and (hopefully) good riddances, spectacular TV viewing, great racing, farcical administrative decisions and lot's of talking points.  What more could you want?

So here, in no particular order, are the 2009 Muse-ette Awards:

Best Stage Race: Le Tour. Thrills, spills, politics, bitching and, for a change, no early morning arrests.

Best One Day Race: Paris-Roubaix. OK, I've always loved Roubaix but this years was particularly good. Who wouldn't have been rooting for "Charlie" Boonen to do over Pozzatto after his tactics in Flanders the previous week.

Best Performance: Cadel Evans at the Worlds. He kept his head down all day, looked like he'd missed the boat, and then defied every one of his critics by launching a devastating attack at the foot of the final climb to win almost within sight of his European home. That it came off the back of a disastrous Tour was even more impressive. Not sure about his move to BMC though! Honourable Mention: Alberto Contador for winning the Tour so emphatically despite the sore losers in his own team and Andy Schleck for his win at Liege-Bastogne-Liege.

Best Irish Rider: Philip Deignan bags us a Grand Tour stage again at long last and what a fabulous place to do it. Honourable Mention: Nicolas Roche for being in every (it seemed) break in the Tour, made even better by his being in the Irish Champions jersey.

Best Young Rider: Sam Bennett. What a Rás! Honourable Mention: Edvald Boassen Hagen and Jacob Fuglsang

Best Celebration: Fabian Cancellara. Who else could afford to take time to celebrate winning the Worlds TT as if he was away in a road race? 

Most Embarrassing Result of the Year: Valverde wins the Vuelta. How can he be winning a Grand Tour in one country when he's banned in another? Farcical.

The Bertie Ahern Play the Man not the Ball Award (coupled with the Anglo Irish Bank Self Interest over Ethics Award): Lance Armstrong, for trying to bully Contador out of a Tour title when his legs couldn't do it for him, and for never once taking a position against doping.

The Shackleton Award for Defying the Odds Through Epic Hardness: Joe Barr for not just completing, but winning, the Race Around Ireland with a broken foot. Have you seen the state he was in on that BBC documentary?

The Thierry Henry Cheat of the Year Award: Danilo Di Luca for making us want to believe his Giro exploits were real even though we should have known better. (Dis)Honourable Mention: Rebellin,  Hamilton, Astarloza, Colom, Jimenez Sanchez, Bosisio, Nozal, Guerra, Ribeiro, Dekker, Biondo, Landaluze, Serrano, Astarloa, Cauchiolli, etc, etc

The Woodward and Bernstein Award for Asking Awkward Questions: Paul Kimmage for that press conference at the Tour of California.

The "As Welcome as a F**t in a Spacesuit" Award: Jointly to Vino, Basso, Ricco and Rasmussen. Need I say more. Although it was nice to see Basso reduced to attention seeking breaks at the Giro now that he's not got the pharma-boost of old to rely on.

The Martin Cullen E-Voting Machines Award for Stupid Decisions: UCI and IOC for dropping the individual pursuit from the Olympics in favour of the Omnium. Who could argue with swapping the spectacle of the worlds best endurance track athletes (Phinney, Thomas, Wiggins, Romero, etc) fighting it out, head to head, over 4 minutes or so for an event no-one knows anything about and which is won over six days without  necessarily winning any of the races?

Finally, 2009 has also been a year when the cycling community sadly lost some of it's finest members including:

Paul Healion, 31, Irish Criterium Champion tragically killed in a car crash just days before the Tour of Ireland.
Frank Vandenbroucke, 34, a sad end to a sad life blighted by drugs and depression.
Johnny Helms, 85, Cycling Weekly cartoonist for over 63 years drew his final Dog Chases Bike scene.
Mark Bell, 48, British RR Champion in the 80's also sadly succumbs to depression.
Frederiek Nolf, 21, promising young Belgian rider died in his sleep during the Tour of Qatar.
Dimitri DeFauw, 28, sadly committed suicide three years after he was involved in a freak accident which took the life of Spanish World Champion Isaac Galvez during the Ghent Six.

May they all rest in peace.

Finally it's only left for me to thank you for visiting my blog and wish you all a very Happy New Year and many enjoyable miles in 2010.

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