Cyclingnews 2003 Reader Poll Results
Best Stage Race
The devil celebrates the centenary
Photo: © AFP
Previously this has been a reasonably close vote as fans of the Other Two grand
tours make their mark. In 2003, though, the Centenary Tour de France was the
only game in town. Many factors contributed to the drama of Tour 2003: Armstrong
faltering and eventual victory despite illness, dehydration, bag straps, and
the breakdown of his marriage; Tyler Hamilton soldiering on despite breaking
his collarbone and eventually winning a stage; Joseba Beloki's awful, disastrous
crash; two Australians duking it out for the green jersey right to the line;
Richard Virenque re-emerging as the darling of France to take the mountains
contest; the stunning return of Jan Ullrich in a race he had played down as
a rehearsal for 2004 and beating Armstrong in a time trial; Gilberto Simoni's
lousy GC performance and redemptive stage win; David Millar's victory in the
slippery, wet conditions of the final 'death match' time after losing the prologue
to a mechanical and an in-form Bradley McGee; the emergence of Alexandre Vinokourov
as a grand tour contender...
If you wrote a three-week cycling soap opera this eventful, nobody would believe
it, and so packed and engrossing was this year's Tour that we found ourselves
explaining Tour 101 down the pub to complete novices who were captivated by
the unfolding drama. Cycling could not have asked for a better showcase - the
the Tour could not have asked for a better hundredth year.
Nevertheless, the Vuelta and the Giro were not without interest. Roberto Heras
finally repeated his 2000 victory in a Vuelta that went almost down to the wire,
and the Giro was livened by Marco Pantani's last hurrah, some fine tactical
riding by Gilberto Simoni and the redemption of Stefano garzelli.
Here's a selection of the reasons why people voted as they did.
Tour de France
- 3 weeks of spectacular riding with true sportsmanship and team tactics
- 5 wins for Lance, Petacchi sprints to multiple stage wins, Tyler 4th with
broken collar bone...what more do you need?
- An epic year - the most exciting I've ever watched. Ullrich's comeback from
slow start to serious challenger, Beloki's aggression ended by a horrible
crash, Mayo & Zubeldia's climbing, Vinokourov's continual never say die attacking,
Hamilton's suffering, Armstrong's crash and fifth win and Cookie and Robbie
battling till the last second.
- Armstrong's tenacity, his refusal to never give up when most of us would
- Centennial tour had a historic build-up to a great race. Victories by all
the greats: Petacchi, Armstrong, Mayo, Vino, Hamilton, Ullrich, Virenque.
Stage 1 crash, Beloki crash, Ullrich crash, Armstrong crash kept the suspense
high throughout. Unforgettable race.
- Closest in years, Armstrong really fighting, the return of Der Kaiser, Vino
on the front foot, crashes that still take my breath away in horror, Petacchi's
sprinting, Cooke's perservance, everything.
- Every stage is raced harder than a World Cup. The event itself is a cultural
aspect of the French summer.
- Finally a TdF where multiple contenders attack the favorite. Alpe d'Huez
was awesome this year!
- Hands down, this year's Tour had the year's best riders in their best form
at their most competitive. Their were more winners in this Tour than any other
recent Tour and the overall winner was the most uncertain and exciting race
it has been for many years.
- It was a classic Tour, with the winner not really decided until the final
Time Trial when Ulrich fell.
- It's a race where there are no flukes, the best rider always wins.
- Lance Armstrong struggles for his record equalling fifth win, in the process
showing the fighting spirit of a true champion
- Looked like a walk in the park for Armstrong, until Alpe d'Huez.... Attack
after attack made the next week and half of racing the best in GT recent memory.
- Nothing ever compares, especially this year. The drama was unreal!!! The
attacks that Lance and the Posties had to answer were numerous. The fact that
Lance was human this year and had a bad day, the first we have seen since
2000, added more drama than I cared for, but made the end result that much
more exciting!! Vinokourov relentless attacks are to be commended. The list
of reasons is simply endless....
- The drama was relentless-We never knew what was going to occur from day
to day, and the winner wasn't clear until Ullrich fell off in the final TT
- Ullrich likely pulled off the greatest of all individual time trials going
back to whenever the ITT got its start. And to witness a struggling Lance
still finish second to Ullrich's unsurpassed ride also gave the race a uniqueness
that helped stamp it as the greatest ITT of all time. In America, Ullrich
(due to America's overriding ethnocentrism) does not receive the recognition
he most certainly deserves. Ullrich, in addition to many of the other great
European riders, has given me a sport that now look forward to above all others.
Americans simply don't know what they are missing.
Vuelta a Espana
- 3 years in a row now the race has been decided in the last couple of days.
Wow!!!! Cannot wait for this year!
- Always a much different course which means new challenges and exciting finishes.
- Brilliant comeback by Roberto Heras - St. Roberto Archangel of the Mountains
- Coolest, less conservative race with a surprise every year
- Heras' amazing come-from-behind victory.
- Heras chipping away at an unknown (Nozal) until he finally takes the win
at the last time trial, and an impossible win at that 1:55 secs in 12 kms!!
- In spite of Nozal's loss, ONCE showed the meaning of teamwork as they worked
for the best man at the moment, no matter who it was. Heras' victory was great...
not only is he a great support rider for Armstrong, but when Postal pulled
Hincapie from the race for the world's Heras showed that he could win a Grand
Tour with less support than he himself has given others.
- It is my personal favorite. I like the fact that there are no time bonuses.
I like the shorter stage lengths and the insanely steep mtns that are sometimes
- The birth of Nozal as a champion and the incledible comeback of Heras.
- The real climbers chance to shine
- 1) Saiz's combativeness, and his ultimate expulsion, 2) Nozal's early dominance
and ultimate collapse, 3) Heras's tenacity, and ultimate dominance, due to
his climbing skills. It all added up to a lot of drama!
- Beautiful sights, gnarly riding!
- Because it was a great cliff-hanging battle and FUN to watch: 1. Stefano
clawing his way up a mountain, pulling up sneaky Rumsas, who then tries to
steal second place, but NO! a dead dog tired-looking Stef pulls the sprint
out of nowhere. And the crowd goes wild! 2. A has-been looking Mario breaks
the record. And the crowd goes wild! 3. The Alessandro world-sprint domination
machine is revealed for the first time. And the crowd goes wild! 4. Marco
shows signs of life (albeit breifly). And the crowd goes wild! 4. Popovych
the revelation seems assured of taking the overall second from Stef but Stef
against all odds beats him in a time trial. And the crowd goes wild! 5. Because
Lance wasn't there we weren't subjected to three weeks of back and forthing
neverednign debate"about whether he is or is not the greatest cyclist since
Jesus Christ. 6. The Tour will win anyway because most people lack imagination.
Bonus: Stef is the cutest cyclist in any peloton so three weeks of looking
at him beats three weeks of looking at anyone else!
- 1. It's in Italy. 2. It has great racing without the Tour's super-hype.
- Great way to start the season...love to watch Italy and everyone is so pumped
up for the event. Great way to welcome in spring
- Does not get all of the hype as the TDF, but stages are usually harder &
Italian Fans are the best in the world...
- Gibo just looks insane in that pink skinsuit, aero shell, and pink Cannondale
- Italy is so pretty. Its where cycling is at its best. (AS long as you can
keep those silly Italians off the dope)
- Simoni vs Garzelli really put on a show, particularly in light of last year's
events. Cipo going for the record, Petacchi (and the other sprinters) standing
in his way. Plus Pantani! Every day was an adventure. What more could you
- Zoncolan. 'Nuff said.
1 Tour de France 931 75.4
2 Vuelta a Espaņa 155 12.6
3 Giro d'Italia 82 6.6
4 Paris - Nice 9 0.7
5 Tour de Georgia 6 0.5
5 Tour de Suisse 6 0.5
5 Tour Down Under 6 0.5
8 Dauphine Libere 5 0.4
9 The International 3 0.2
9 Tour of the basque country 3 0.2
11 Cascade Classic 2 0.2
11 Multi-Laser Grand Prix 2 0.2
11 Sea Otter 2 0.2
11 Tour of the Gila 2 0.2
15 Driedaagse de Panne 1 0.1
15 Ecology Center Classic 1 0.1
15 Fitchburg stage race 1 0.1
15 Four Days of Dunkirk 1 0.1
15 Grand Boucle Feminin 1 0.1
15 Grand Prix de Beauce 1 0.1
15 Herald-Sun tour 1 0.1
15 La Ruta De Los Conquistadores 1 0.1
15 Mt Hood Classic 1 0.1
15 Saaremaa Velotuur 1 0.1
15 Tour de Burg 1 0.1
15 Tour de L'Abitibi 1 0.1
15 Tour de Langkawi 1 0.1
15 Tour de Romandie 1 0.1
15 Tour of Germany 1 0.1
15 Tour of Southeast Michigan 1 0.1
15 Tour of Southland 1 0.1
15 Volta a Portugal 1 0.1
15 Vuelta a Cuba 1 0.1
15 Wildside 1 0.1
Total 1234 0.0