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Cyclingnews 2008 Reader Poll Results
Best Moment of 2008
Sastre's ascent into yellow
By Peter Hymas
The Tour de France once again provided the defining moment of 2008, as it has for five of the last six Cyclingnews reader polls, with Carlos Sastre's go-for-broke solo ascent of L'Alpe d'Huez on Stage 17 receiving 22.97% of the vote. Sastre attacked at the base of the Alpe and was never seen again by the general classification favourites in the chasing group until he stepped on the victory podium at the climb's summit.
Sastre's attack not only resulted in a prestigious stage win on the Tour's Queen stage, but more importantly Sastre's more than two-minute margin of victory unseated the yellow jersey from CSC-Saxo Bank teammate Fränk Schleck and turned a 41-second deficit to eventual Tour runner-up Cadel Evans into a 1'34 advantage. Sastre donned the maillot jaune for the first time in his career that Wednesday and successfully defended it through the Tour's conclusion in Paris four days later, having to ride the time trial of his life to keep Evans at bay in the penultimate stage.
"I decided to attack from the start because everyone was tired from the CSC efforts on the Col de la Croix de Fer," Sastre explained. "I took off from the start to get as much time as possible. I knew I could do better at my own pace instead of having to face constant attacks."
Sastre said that it had been his idea to attack at the base of the climb, but that this had only been made possible thanks to his teammates. "Without their help I would not have done it. The Schleck brothers sacrificed themselves, and that is the philosophy of the team," he added.
Just as Sastre's Tour de France victory wasn't a runaway, Fabian Cancellara's late-race effort in the men's road race at the Beijing Olympics came in a close second to Sastre's L'Alpe d'Huez attack with 19.9% of the vote. As the extremely taxing Olympic road race entered its closing kilometers, Cancellara rocketed from the main chase group and bridged across to the leading five-man break, which at this moment had split into two groups on the road.
Cancellara towed Michael Rogers and Alexandr Kolobnev back to the leading trio of Sammy Sánchez, Davide Rebellin and Andy Schleck as the now six-man group passed under the red kite signifying just one kilometre left to determine Olympic gold. Despite being taxed from the massive effort in high heat and humidity on a hilly course not favouring his powerful physique, Cancellara dug deep to win an unlikely bronze in the uphill sprint behind Sánchez and Rebellin.
"I saw I had to do something otherwise I would not get up there," Cancellara said. "I knew that I had teammates from CSC – Andy Schleck and Alexandr Kolobnev – but you don't ride with your teammates at the Olympics. I had to do it alone, which shows that I was very good today. I have now achieved my main aim of winning a medal, so there's less pressure for me now."
Cancellara, as expected, won gold in the Olympic time trial four days later.
Mark Cavendish's four stage wins in the Tour de France, undoubtedly one of the factors which garnered him third place in the Rider of the Year poll, put the blazing-fast Manxman in an identical third place rank in the Best Moment of 2008 poll, with 15.12% of the vote.
Votes %age 1 Tour de France - Team CSC/Carlos Sastre's ascent of l'Alpe d'Huez on Stage 17 2652 22.97 2 Olympics - Fabian Cancellara bridges across to the break and takes bronze 2297 19.90 3 Tour de France - Mark Cavendish wins four stages 1746 15.12 4 Lance Armstrong announces his return to cycling 1479 12.81 5 Paris-Roubaix - Tom Boonen's sprint win 817 7.08 6 Olympics - Nicole Cooke wins after slipping behind on final corner 766 6.64 7 Olympics - Chris Hoy's three gold medal haul 559 4.84 8 Scheldeprijs - Mark Cavendish pipping Tom Boonen at the line 402 3.48 9 ASO and UCI settle their differences 311 2.69 10 Olympics - Samuel Sanchez's gold medal ride 307 2.66 11 Tour de France - Sylvain Chavanel's sprint win on Stage 19 208 1.80 Total: 11544