Cycling review of 2013
We look back on a pulsating season on the road and track
Last Updated: 27/12/13 1:08pm
Chris Froome's victory in July's Tour de France was arguably the main highlight, but Becky James's four-medal haul at the Track Cycling World Championships in Minsk and dramatic scenes at races such as the Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a Espana will also live long in the memory.
Here, we look back on the best of 2013...
Male Rider of the Year: Chris Froome
If 2012 was the year of Sir Bradley Wiggins, 2013 was the turn of Chris Froome. The 28-year-old Briton won no fewer than four stage races - the Tour of Oman, Criterium International, the Tour of Romandie and Criterium du Dauphine - during the build-up to the crux of his season: the Tour de France. Entering the 100th edition of the race as the hot favourite, he lived up to that billing with a dominant performance over three weeks, culminating in a 4min 20sec victory in the general classification. As well as the yellow jersey, he climbed to victory on the summit finishes on Ax 3 Domaines and then, memorably, on Mont Ventoux, before taking a third stage victory on the individual time trial on stage 17. He was clearly the best all-round rider in the race and the manner of his win hinted he could go on to dominate the Tour for several years to come.
Female Rider of the Year: Marianne Vos
The Netherlands' Marianne Vos is arguably the pound-for-pound No 1 cyclist in the world right now and produced another typically dominant season in 2013. The headline achievements were a second successive world road race title, victories in the women's Tour of Flanders and La Fleche Wallonne and an overall triumph at the Trophee d'Or Feminin, but it is the statistics from her year that are most impressive. The numbers are simply staggering. Of her 39 race days, she won 20 of them, finishing on the podium in another nine. She finished out of the top 10 on only three occasions, with her worst placing being 17th, which was in a time trial. If you include the general and points classifications she topped, Vos notched up a stunning 25 wins in 2013, a number bettered in professional road cycling only by Peter Sagan (27), who raced more than twice as days (91).
Breakthrough Rider of the Year: Becky James
A close call between Britons Becky James and Simon Yates, but James just steals it. Yates, for the record, had an outstanding year, winning gold in the points race at the Track Cycling World Championships in Minsk in February, claiming two stages of the prestigious Tour de l'Avenir and then finishing third overall at the Tour of Britain. James, however, collected two golds - and four medals in total - in Minsk with a string of stunning performances that announced her as one of the top sprinters in the world. She then followed that up by winning two silvers and a bronze at the Track Cycling World Cup in Manchester in November to prove that her success in Minsk was no fluke and underline her status as Britain's new sprint queen in the wake of Victoria Pendleton's retirement.
Moment of the Year
Chris Froome's stage victory on Mont Ventoux on stage 15 of the Tour de France was not only the best moment of the year, but also one of the most memorable days in British cycling history. Froome became only the second man after Eddy Merckx to win on the fabled mountain while wearing the leader's yellow jersey and, in doing so, effectively won the race overall. The Briton produced a magnificent performance on the 21km ascent, first dropping arch rival Alberto Contador 7km from home and then leaving Nairo Quintana behind 1.3km out, as he climbed into Tour folklore. The win also carried historic significance, as he distanced Quintana on almost the exact spot where fellow Briton Tommy Simpson had collapsed and died 46 years and one day before.
Race of the Year
It would be so easy to say the Tour de France and Chris Froome's magnificent overall victory was the race of the year, but the cold fact is that it wasn't. The honour instead goes to the Tour's Spanish sister, the Vuelta a Espana. The overall lead changed hands no fewer than eight times over three pulsating weeks, mainly between Vincenzo Nibali, the favourite, and Chris Horner, the surprise package. The duo fought out a compelling battle over a brutal 11 summit finishes and went into the last of those, the legendary Alto de L'Angliru, separated by just three seconds. On slopes as steep as 23 per cent and in thick mist, Nibali and Horner produced pure sporting theatre as they attacked and counter-attacked each other all the way up the climb. In the end, it was 41-year-old Horner who got the better of his Italian rival and went to to win a Grand Tour that will live long in the memory.
Disappointment of the Year
Sir Bradley Wiggins had it all his own way in 2012, but in 2013 hardly anything went right for British cycling's favourite son. His main aim for the year was May's Giro d'Italia, and while he started solidly enough, things swiftly started to go wrong. He crashed and lost almost a minute and a half on his rivals on a rain-soaked seventh stage and with a knee injury later being compounded by illness, he was forced to abandon the race ahead of the 13th stage. He then turned his focus towards riding the Tour de France, but the after-effects of his problems at the Giro left him behind schedule in his preparations and he was consequently withdrawn from contention for selection for Team Sky's squad. He returned to action later in the season and won the Tour of Britain, but then had to settle for silver in the world championship time trial in Florence as another of his ambitions for 2013 went unfulfilled.