Highlights of 2011 – Part V

Thursday, 15 December 2011

In the fifth and final part of the highlights of the year I’ve realised one thing. 2011 has been such a good year that you cannot take five highlights of the year because there have been so many more. So I’m going to cheat in this final look at the best moments of the year with five more moments from the year.

  • Tirreno-Adriatico is always a good race but watch Cadel Evans in Stage 6 as it’s quite special. The cold conditions and long shadows suggest the Tour de France is far away but the future winner of the race covers all the moves in the finish to take the stage win in Macerata. The roads twist and turn, the gradient changes but Evans is consistently near the front and times his final effort perfectly. He went on to win the overall and his consistency in stage races is impressive.
  • Where to start with the spring classics? Milan-Sanremo was thrilling all the way from the descent of the Turchino when the race split. The lead group stayed clear and if Goss’s sprinting abilities were well known the result was not predictable until the final seconds of the 300km race. Paris-Roubaix saw Van Summeren take a great win, a surprise and if some felt let down by the lack of a battle between the main favourites, there was again suspense all the way. Finally, Philippe Gilbert went on the rampage in the Ardennes and Amstel and if his wins were predictable, watching him to it was impressive.
  • Mark Cavendish hit peak form in the Tour de France and added win after win and then claimed the green jersey. He is not a sprinter in the mould of, say, Freddy Maertens who wins classics as well but nevertheless his tally of wins in the Tour de France alone puts him amongst the greats. And if people say he wins thanks to teamwork and an express train of a leadout, he can cope by himself as he showed at the Worlds. At times he always won but in the Giro and Tour we saw Petacchi, Greipel and Farrar prove capable of rivalling him so the contest is often exciting.
  • The Giro was mixed for me. There was Wouter Weylandt’s death of course (I’ll mention this in another post soon). Contador controlled his overall lead with ease, he even started handing out stage wins to José Rujano and Paolo Tiralongo. But the individual stages were often great with the constantly changing scenery and the variety of finishes. I don’t compare the Giro to the Tour because you don’t have to chose, both are excellent races with their own character and identity. By any measure, a grand tour is great for the way it is more than a race but a collection of stories with battles for the jerseys and even the tales of those struggling to stay in the race.
  • A final highlight was the video clip below. It was a popular item on the blog and I was impressed by the dedication of the riders involved. It is blowing a gale but these Dutch riders decide it is a fine day to practice riding in echelon formation, to film the riding and then to dub the video with some manic Euro techno. At one point a rider struggles to hold on to his bike. Madness.

Overall 2011 has been a great year. So many more races provided excitement and thanks to the internet it is possible to watch more races than ever.

Pin It

{ 11 comments }

Jeff December 15, 2011 at 11:50 am

Agree, it’s been a great season. I would have added a couple more moments. Like the rainy stage to Gap in the Tour. Everyone remembers Andy Schleck losing but Contador and Evans seized the day.

TomH December 15, 2011 at 1:01 pm

I also loved the decent in the Tour where Contador and Sanchez gave it their all while Voeckler overshot a curve and ended up in someones backyard. Luckily no one got hurt but it was drama beaucoup. Impeccable stagewin by Edvald Boasson Hagen.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jLQqOGl5sp0

Larry T. December 15, 2011 at 2:57 pm

Thanks for the T-A clip! I miss Le Marche as interest in our tour there has slacked off recently. Still a great place to ride (and eat and drink) though. Highlights for us are races we saw live, the Finestre stage at Il Giro and the Pinerolo (as mentioned by TomH above) stage at LeTour. In 2012 it should be Paris-Roubaix and perhaps a few stages of the Giro if we’re lucky.

Gary B. December 15, 2011 at 3:24 pm

Once again, you’ve articulated the emotion I felt during what I think was one of the most exciting seasons of the past 20 years. The advent of YouTube allows us to enjoy the moments all over again.

BTW, you have my vote for Cycling blog of the year, hands down. As Joe Parkin says in “A Dog In A Hat”, there’s no one else in the photo.

Rider Council December 15, 2011 at 4:42 pm

That’s just you average day out on a bike in Holland. You can see why the Spanish are afraid of their sh.te to race up there (with the exception of Freire and Flecha).

Here is a blow for blow of the finale of that stage into Macerata, ‘Marche’. Hincapie and Ballan rode their guts out on the Marchigiani roads and dropped Shleck at the beginning of a 2 km climb. Their amazing work didn’t go to waste but what was even more incredible was how Evans managed to outfox Visconti and Nibali and ride into the last corner before Scarponi (on roads he knows very well). Evans is now the man and will go on to make history in July. Ciao Andy.

http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150107780630980.278124.207693355979&type=3

bikecellar December 15, 2011 at 7:56 pm

“He is not a sprinter in the mould of, say, Freddy Maertens who wins classics as well.” Time will tell. :)

Larry T. December 15, 2011 at 9:52 pm

Evans there reminded me of his win in the muddy “strade bianche” stage of the 2010 Giro. I don’t know why he’s not-so-well-liked by TV’s Heckyl and Jeckyl who fawn all over the Schlecks, who are almost as boring to watch (for me) as Ivan Basso.

Darren December 15, 2011 at 10:09 pm

I remember during the Worlds 2010 where in the last 25 km Evans was storming along at the front, and one of the commentators was saying that one of the trainers/coaches at the Mapei Centre of Aldo Sassi said how Evans has one of the biggest engines he has ever come across!

I enjoyed watching the vid of those guys in The Netherlands! I often cut across the border and ride along the coast for some hard training, man & machine against the forces of nature, keeping my nose on the cockpit to prevent my front wheel from lifting up! Try that riding all the way in the hard gears/big wheel! Good workout!!! The seduction of suffering!!!

Matt December 15, 2011 at 10:37 pm

Just a thought on Cav. I wonder whether Sky will give him a shot at Milan-San Remo, Gent-Wevelgem, or Paris-Tours this year, or whether they’ll reserve these for Swift, Appollonio or EBH. It would be great to see him really have a go at some of the sprinters Classics. Obviously, you can’t really see him ever being able to win races like Tour of Flanders, but there’s no reason he couldn’t dominate in the flatter races.

Alan December 16, 2011 at 6:53 am

Agree X 10. Great choices so far.

Simma December 29, 2011 at 1:03 pm

best moment of the year for me was the in car footage @ flanders, it should be added to every race for such golden nuggets as in this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r2duy6kDu5Q

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: