The 2018 season is done and dusted, so Jens re lects on his highlights of the year
Our race columnist on the latest events
Another road cycling season has ended, so it’s time to look back at the year in full. At the spring Classics, we saw a thrilling final at Milan-San Remo, with a brilliant Vincenzo Nibali outfoxing the sprinters’ teams and taking the win in glory. In Paris-Roubaix, it was the strongest individual rider who won the race, not the strongest team. We all expected another Quick-Step win but instead, after years of trying, Peter Sagan got it right. We saw action in the Ardennes Classics, with both Amstel and Liège being won with daring breaks instead of the races being decided on the finishing straight.
And, of course, we all remember Chris Froome’s heroic and epic battle to turn the whole Giro d’Italia GC upside down with his 80km solo. That was, for me, the most thrilling and exciting moment of the year. He really put it all on the line there, and took a risky tactical decision. But hey, what do the British SAS say? “Who dares wins.” And that’s what he did.
Here comes my little moment of pride. For years,
I have said that no Giro winner will win the Tour in the same year, and my theory survived another year as Geraint Thomas won in Paris. I couldn’t have been happier for any rider than I was for him. I have known him for many years and apart from being a great bike rider, he is simply a good man and a really humble human. We all remember his tears of happiness when he won and when his wife surprised him just before the end. He was for many years one the hardest-working team members, showed loyalty and helped Froome win the Tour. He is the best example of karma. Good things come to good people. From an emotional point of view, this was my highlight of the year – a little fairytale.
The second remarkable thing about the Tour was the mass exodus of the sprinters. No big sprinter survived apart from Sagan, who, after his crash in the mountains, was unable to fight for the win in Paris. It was a sprint of the survivors there, between riders who couldn’t win in
"Geraint Thomas is the best example of karma. Good things come to good people. From an emotional point of view, his Tour win was my highlight”
the first week. But hey, this is cycling. It’s not always the strongest or fastest who wins. Guts, grit and perseverance play a really big part in our sport and these riders fought and suffered all the way to the end.
The Tour of Spain finally had a happy end for the Yates family, after Simon missed out on the Giro win. It was fantastic riding by the whole team. Also there, the brilliant form of Valverde showed a hint of who was the favourite for the Worlds. Alejandro did not disappoint and delivered like a true champ. He presented his brand new world champion’s jersey at the Italian Classics and he did ride well, but could not stop Thibaut Pinot who took his biggest win ever at Il Lombardia.
If I could have one wish for next year, it would be that Mitchelton-Scott forgets about the Giro and sends both Yates twins and Esteban Chavez fresh, ready and hungry to the Tour. They would cause chaos and mayhem together in the mountains. And we would all love to watch that spectacle, right?!
retired in 2014 following an 18-year career as one of the sport's most loved and attacking riders. He held the Hour Record for 42 days. Commentators never did agree how to pronounce his name.
Jens loved Froome’s attack at the Giro, which secured the Briton’s GC win