DANIEL FRIEBE Writer podcaster and TV presenter
Best male rider of the year It seems extraordinary that until the autumn of 2015 serious doubts persisted over Peter Sagan’s ability to rise to the big one-day occasions that will eventually decide the Slovak’s place in cycling history. Two world titles, a Tour of Flanders and his second GentWevelgem later – not forgetting the usual garnish of a green jersey, Grand Tour stage wins and assorted other delights – Sagan is fast building a palmarès as rich, eclectic and captivating as his o f-the-bike persona. In the po-faced, grizzled post-Armstrong age, cycling needs Sagan’s sense of fun nearly as much as it needs its stars to be and remain credible.
Best female rider If the spring belonged to Lizzie Deignan, the summer elevated Megan Guarnier to new heights. Guarnier’s Giro Rosa, Tour of California and overall WorldTour wins gave her season the look and poignancy of a parable about hard work, stoicism and playing a long game.
Who else impressed me Esteban Chaves’s megawatt charisma and sheer moxie made him the talisman of an OricaBikeExchange team whose smart recruitment, tactical acumen and spirit of adventure are increasingly impressive. Thanks also to Messrs Quintana, Pantano, Gaviria, Atapuma and López, Colombia in general had an astounding summer. Other standout storylines included Cavendish’s resurgence, Bardet’s emergence as a probable future Tour winner and
Van Avermaet inally giving BMC a focal point in the Classics.
Best one- day race of the year A case could be made for Lombardy or Flanders but Paris-Roubaix delivered six hours of uninterrupted, tense, deliciously subtle dramas, and a popular winner in Mat Hayman.
Best stage race of the year Purists can sni f and sco f at the gimmickry – at the goat tracks and their silly gradients – but the Vuelta a España’s role as every season’s last-chance saloon brings it fantastic riders and aggressive racing. Chris Froome’s battle with Nairo Quintana was also the most compelling mano-a-mano of the year, and the stages to Gourette, Formigal and the Alto de Aitana probably three of 2016’s best ive days of Grand Tour action.
Team of the year Orica-BikeExchange, for the reasons outlined above. Sky blotted an otherwise admirable copybook with an aberration that cost Chris Froome the Vuelta a España at Formigal, then the unsettling revelations of the autumn. Of the other contenders, Movistar got overpowered by Sky at the Tour, EtixxQuick Step bombed in the Classics, and Tinko f relied too heavily on Sagan.
Up- and- coming rider of the year Adam Yates. Honourable mentions: Simon Yates, Pierre Latour, Lilian Calmejane, Alberto Bettiol, Gianni Moscon, Magnus Cort Nielsen, Valerio Conti, Miguel Ángel López, Max Walscheid, Christophe Laporte and Egan Bernal.
Cock- up of the year Nacer Bouhanni has assembled maybe the best and most aggressive sprint train in professional cycling at Co idis. Shame that, for two years in a row now, Bouhanni’s rashness at the French National Championships has derailed him and it a week before the Tour de France.