Sir Bradley Wiggins' hour record & cycling's other top moments of 2015
We sift through the highlights of the past season
By Matt Westby
Last Updated: 26/12/15 10:53pm
Cycling fans have been treated to a constant stream of action and entertainment in 2015.
From memorable races and unlikely winners to historic feats and individual genius, it has been a year to remember.
Here, in chronological order, we look back on the top 10 moments…
Stannard stuns Quick-Step trio at Omloop
Britain and Team Sky's Ian Stannard went into the final 40km of February's Omloop Het Nieuwsblad one-day classic as part of a lead group of four alongside Etixx - Quick-Step trio Niki Terpstra, Tom Boonen and Stijn Vandenbergh. Heavily outnumbered, Stannard appeared to stand no chance of victory and he started to come under heavy fire when both Boonen and Vandenbergh began to attack him in the final 5km.
Not only did Stannard chase both down, but he then launched an attack of his own that only Terpstra was able to follow. It was now a two-man sprint for glory, and Stannard, despite his previous chase efforts, was able to conjure one final burst of energy to claim the unlikeliest and most impressive of wins.
Degenkolb's Monument double
Milan-San Remo and Paris-Roubaix are two of the most prestigious races in cycling and are rarely both won by the same rider in a single season. Before this year, the last man to achieve the feat had been Sean Kelly in 1986.
However, Germany's John Degenkolb set himself up for the double by sprinting to victory at Milan-San Remo in March and then joining the leading group going into the final 50km of Paris-Roubaix three weeks later. His hopes looked to have evaporated when Greg Van Avermaet and Yves Lampaert escaped from the group with 12km to go, but in a brilliant display of tactics and power, Degenkolb took a risk by chasing them down and subsequently won a sprint finish in the iconic Roubaix Velodrome.
Contador tames the Mortirolo
There are few finer sights in cycling than a pure climber gliding up an Alpine ascent and Alberto Contador's magnificent performance on the feared Passo di Mortirolo during this May's Giro d'Italia was a definitive example.
Leading the race at the time, he started up its notoriously steep slopes 51 seconds behind his closest rival in the general classification, Fabio Aru, after puncturing in the kilometres leading up to the climb, and he was consequently forced to go on the attack as soon as the road reared up.
Despite gradients reaching the high teens of percentage, Contador tore into the climb, overtaking fellow riders as if they were standing still and catching a humbled Aru halfway up. After a short rest, Contador then attacked, dropped Aru and eventually finished 2min 13sec in front of the Italian - a margin that would ultimately hand him overall victory.
Wiggins smashes hour record
Sir Bradley Wiggins has enjoyed many glory days in his career and added another to his collection when breaking the UCI Hour Record in front of a sell-out crowd at the Lee Valley VeloPark velodrome in London in June.
Wiggins covered 54.526km to smash the previous best by 1.589km, the second highest record-breaking margin in the history of the event. He also became only sixth rider to have won the Tour and held the hour record, joining Lucien Petit-Breton, Fausto Coppi, Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx and Miguel Indurain.
Froome reigns on La Pierre-Saint-Martin
Chris Froome was already leading this year's Tour de France when the race arrived at stage 10's final climb to La-Pierre-Saint-Martin, but over the next 15km he effectively sealed victory with a performance that will live long in the memory.
With defending champion Vincenzo Nibali and Alberto Contador both already dropped, Froome attacked 6.4km from the finish and although Nairo Quintana briefly remained in touching distance, he later fell away and crossed the line 1min 4sec down on the rampant race winner-elect.
Sagan tears into Col de Manse descent
Peter Sagan has produced some wonderful displays of descending during his career but perhaps none have been better than his descent off the Col de Manse on stage 16 of the Tour.
He formed part of the day's breakaway and was one minute down leader-on-the-road Ruben Plaza when he went over the top of the Manse and embarked on the 9km descent into Gap, which is renowned as one of the most technical and dangerous sections of road in the sport. Sagan hurled himself down, pushing the limits so far that he almost overshot several corners, and although he was ultimately unable to catch Plaza, it was one of the most thrilling moments of both the race and season.
Quintana fights back on Alpe d'Huez
Despite trailing race leader Froome by a seemingly insurmountable 2min 38sec going into the final mountain stage of the Tour on stage 20, Quintana was not yet ready to concede defeat and duly produced one of the most aggressive performances of the whole season.
The Colombian attacked no fewer than five times on the Col de la Croix de Fer and subsequent climb to the summit finish at Alpe d'Huez and while Froome managed to resist the first three attacks, he could not follow Quintana's fourth acceleration. Quintana was unable to overhaul his deficit in the end, but his thrilling attempt to do so made his climb of Alpe d'Huez riveting viewing.
Dumoulin stuns Froome at Vuelta
The 4km climb to the summit finish at Cumbre del Sol on stage nine of the Vuelta a Espana produced arguably the most action-packed mountain battle at a Grand Tour in years - and also one of the most surprising outcomes.
Alejandro Valverde, Quintana, Tom Dumoulin, Fabio Aru, Esteban Chaves, Rafal Majka and Froome all launched attacks on each other as the race favourites abandoned tactics and instead engaged in an almighty scrap.
Froome finally broke free from the melee in the final 500m and looked on course for victory, but then, seemingly from nowhere, Dumoulin conjured one last attack - his fourth of the climb - to overtake the Briton in the last 50m and snatch a win that also handed him the race lead.
Armitstead bides time to perfection
Lizzie Armitstead's hopes of winning the World Championship road race appeared to have disappeared when a nine-rider breakaway escaped with 27km to go and opened up a lead of a minute.
With her team-mates having already been dropped out of the peloton, Armitstead was unable to chase, but then salvation arrived when Germany and Australia increased the pace in the peloton and made the catch with 3km to go.
From there, Armitstead thinned the main bunch down with an attack on the day's final climb and then won a sprint finish - crossing the line in tears - to become only the fourth British woman to win the rainbow jersey.
Sagan blows the world away
There have been some spectacular attacks in 2015 but none were quite as ferocious or thrilling as Sagan's in the World Championship road race.
Having spent the whole race tucked quietly away in the peloton, Sagan suddenly emerged by attacking on the cobbled penultimate climb of the day and opened out his lead over his pursuers with a breakneck descent down the other side. He then hung on over the final climb to clinch a victory so popular that fellow riders gave him high fives at the finish line.