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Cyclingnews 2005 Reader Poll Results
Rider of the Year
And the winner of the Rider of the Year, by a huge margin this year, is Tom Boonen! The Belgian proved that he is much more than a bunch sprinter this year by scoring some impressive victories. Chief among these were the World Championship Road Race in Madrid, and the Ronde van Vlaanderen/Paris-Roubaix double, arguably the three most prestigious one day races on the calendar. Not many racers can lay claim to that triple.
Boonen won a total of 14 races this year, somewhat less than sprinting rivals Alessandro Petacchi and Robbie McEwen, but he did take some big wins. A week before the Ronde van Vlaanderen, he won the E3 Prijs Vlaanderen with a powerful ride, attacking with Andreas Klier with 55 km to go and beating him comfortably in the sprint. The following Sunday, he attacked the leading breakaway with 9 km to go to win solo in the Ronde, then backed that up in Paris-Roubaix to win a three up sprint against George Hincapie and Juan Antonio Flecha.
Boonen's other triumphs included the overall classification and two stages in the Tour of Belgium, two stages in the Tour de France, Paris-Nice, and the Tour of Qatar, and one stage in the Tour de Picardie. He finished second in the ProTour and in the Omloop Het Volk, and was in action from January through the end of September, when he crowned his season with a huge win in the World's in Madrid. Few can argue that he doesn't deserve Cyclingnews Rider of the Year.
In second place in our poll, with 1494 votes behind Boonen's 3297, is Lance Armstrong. In his final year as a pro, Lance's only goal was to win the Tour de France a seventh time, and he accomplished that with no problems. Lance put a minute or more into his major rivals on the very first stage, a 19 km time trial, and it was clear from then who was the best rider at the Tour. In winning seven on the trot, Armstrong broke his own record of six Tour wins, and it's going to be a while (seven years, at least) before anyone can better that. It is an amazing achievement.
Armstrong was not completely dominant in his last year, winning only two races on a single weekend. Of course, one of those was the Tour, and the other was the final time trial stage in the Tour. In the lead-up races, Armstrong was more measured than he has been in previous years, and did not seem to be hungry enough to get a win or two on the board before the main event. A contrast to Boonen, but again, it's hard to argue that Armstrong hasn't had a very successful 2005.
In third place, with 580 votes, was the winner of the inaugural ProTour competition, Danilo Di Luca. The Italian had his best ever season in 2005, with the highlight being the spring. In April, he won the Vuelta al Pais Vasco, Amstel Gold Race and Fleche Wallonne in just over a two week period. That put him at the top of the ProTour rankings, and he defended his position well with a fighting fourth place in the Giro d'Italia in May, garnering two stage wins along the way. In the second half of the season, Di Luca didn't win any more races, but still performed well enough in the late season classics to finish atop the ProTour rankings by a long shot, a reward for a consistently good season.
Rounding out the top five are George Hincapie and Bobby Julich, who both had excellent seasons by their standards. Hincapie won five races, including a stunning stage in the toughest mountain stage of the Tour de France. Two stages in the Dauphiné Libéré, the GP Ouest France Plouay, Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne, and second in Paris-Roubaix gave big George a lot of shine in his 32nd year. Bobby Julich notched up wins in the Eneco Tour, Paris-Nice and Criterium International among his total of six wins in 2006. He was the first ever leader of the ProTour and showed excellent form in spring and in August.
Finally our Rider of the Year reader prize, which was a set of HED Jet 50 wheels, was won by Richard Elgin. Congratulations Richard!
Votes %ge 1 Tom Boonen 3297 45.6 2 Lance Armstrong 1494 20.7 3 Danilo Di Luca 580 8.0 4 George Hincapie 362 5.0 5 Bobby Julich 281 3.9 6 Alexander Vinokourov 277 3.8 7 Ivan Basso 255 3.5 8 Gunn-Rita Dahle 152 2.1 9 Paolo Bettini 116 1.6 10 Paolo Savoldelli 104 1.4 11 Alessandro Petacchi 79 1.1 12 Michael Rasmussen 73 1.0 13 Robbie McEwen 64 0.9 14 Nicole Cooke 36 0.5 15 Levi Leipheimer 33 0.5 16 Thor Hushovd 20 0.3 Total 7223