Letters to cyclingnews – special edition

"Gobsmackingly Brilliant" rides of 2000

David Voller of Sweden started it with a short letter asking which 2000 performances people found most inspiring. It's been a hugely popular topic, so we're giving it its own section, and this is the third page. We have decided to close the nominations now, instead allowing readers to vote for the 15 most popular rides (and win a prize in doing so). The nominations/voting page can now be found here.

Regular letters are here. Previous nominations arein two other pages, the oldest ones here and the last batch here.

Oscar Freire

Although Museeuw, Tafi, Armstrong, Ullrich, Dekker and others all produced great memorable rides, there's no doubt in my mind, that Oscar Freire is the greatest sensation of this season.

He faced the toughest odds possible being a third year pro with no memorable results apart from the rainbow jersey. And as if that wasn't enough, he was injured most of the season and only managed to sit on the bike for 55 races.

And still he managed to win 10 victories. I mean; what rainbow jersey last managed to do that ?

Jeppe Lisdorf
Aalborg, Denmark
Tue, 12 Dec

Vote early, vote often

I specially remember these performances of 2000 :

  1. Kelme in the mountain stages of Giro, Tour and Vuelta with Rubiera, Heras, Botero, Otxoa, Sevilla…
  2. Marco Pantani waiting for Garzelli.
  3. "The Telekoms" in Sydney 2000.
  4. Don Johan Museeuw winning in the Paris Roubaix.
  5. Andrea Tafi and his particular show in the Paris Tours.
  6. Armstrong up the Hautacam.
  7. Cipollini vs Cerezo, boxing.

Jose M Peña
Madrid, Spain
Mon, 11 Dec

Van Moorsel, Museeuw, Armstrong

1 Leontien van Moorsel in the Olympics. The best cycling performance in the modern history of the Olympics.

2 Johan Museeuw's win at Roubaix. From near death to total domination.

3 Lance Armstrong on Hautacam. The best ride by the best rider in the best race.

David R Wooten, Jr
Sun, 10 Dec

Top Nine

1 Javier Otxoa Palacios. Whether Lance Armstrong 'gave' it to him or not, the way in which the young Spanish climber won one of the most challenging Tour de France stages was fabulous. Attacking almost the entire stage, with a lot of help by surprising Belgian Nico Mattan, and coming through first on the Marie-Blanque, Aubisque and Soulor and finally Hautacam is heroic! In general, the performances by the Kelme-team in Giro, Tour and Vuelta are remarkable. Santiago Botero Echeverry's Tour de France was quite impressive, and Sevilla in the Vuelta gave us a hindsight to what we can expect from him the coming years. And Heras, well, he was simply the best Grand Tour-rider this season.

2 Francesco Casagrande. He rode a superb season. His best day certainly was the Giro-stage to Abetone. Fantastic! Killing 'em all on the climb and then perhaps the best descent we have seen this season. Very spectacular.

3 Andrei Zintchenko. For as long as I can remember a Portuguese team is allowed to start in the Vuelta. A very nice habit of the organisers. I think (but am not sure) that in recent cycling history only once a member of a Portuguese team has won a stage. Until Russian phenomenon Andrei Zintchenko. And he didn't win just a stage, but Lagos de Covandonga. Great cycling.

4 Victor Hugo Peña Grisales. I think it is quite a historic achievement if a Colombian wins a time trial on a track that is as flat as a snooker table. The fact that Vitalicio seguros riders won all time trials in the Giro is also worth mentioning. What a shame that this always exciting team (in stage races) disappears.

5 How come nobody mentions Oscar Freire Gómez? He is probably the most succesful world champion since Greg Lemond. He is still very young, wins a lot and has showed in both the classics and the Vuelta that he is a rider from whom we can expect quite a lot the coming years. It's just that he should have chosen another team.

6 It wasn't very much in the classics this year. Only one World Cup comes to my mind, and that is the Tour of Flanders. In a typical Tchmil-way the Belgian-Russian-Ukrainian-Moldavian veteran rushed towards the finish. It reminded me of the way he once won the (I think) E-3 Prijs, when Ekimov simply couldn't keep his wheel.

7 Andreas Klöden. His wins in Paris-Nice and The Vuelta al País Vasco put him on the map as a tough competitor in the more demanding stage races. Unfortunately he wasn't able to show something in the Grand Tours.

8 Piot Wadecki. Being a member of a very small Polish second class team and becoming 42 on the World ranking is fantastic. Winning the Tour of Poland against all strong first class teams shows why. And the Olympic Games when we was one of the first attackers and still finished in front were also remarkable. In fact, how would the World's have ended without the Poles?

9 Last but certainly not least: Erik Zabel. He was simply the most consistent and thus best rider this season. A cycling season runs from January until November, and no one did as good as he did during that period. Wins in Milano-San Remo and the Amstel Gold, 4th in Vlaanderen and 3rd in Roubaix tells that he had a formidable early season. Winning his fifth consecutive (!!!) green jersey was perhaps even better, and yes, this time he did win a stage. By the way, Romans Vainsteins is a good second in this category and his world title a justified finish of a great and consistent season.

Ivo Habets,
Den Haag - Netherlands
Mon, 11 Dec

Museeuw & Merckx

A tie - just like Florida - between my main man Johan M's massive Paris-Roubaix and Axel M's stage win in the Giro. Since both chads have been punched I guess I'm disqualified!

Kjell Ljungskog
Mon, 11 Dec

Van Moorsel and Pezzo

Olympic Road Events: Van Moorsel. Simply a dominating performance.

Olympic Mountain Bike Events: Paola Pezzo. Maximum focus.

Terry T.
Mon, 11 Dec


Henk Vogel's First Union USPRO championship ride, hands down. With less than 3k left in the 250 k race, Vogel makes a couple aborted stabs at getting away from a final group that includes America's two best road sprinters, George Hincappie and Fred Rodriguez. Each time he is quickly brought back.
Finally, he launches a vicious attack, gets some air and starts riding balls to the wall. For a few moments, it looks like he has the gap. His head down, he is pushing so big a gear it hurts just to watch. The camera pans back. No one seems to be there as he starts up Lemon Hill.

Then out of the blue the rest are coming back. Vogels glances over his shoulder and sees the jig is up. He sits up, looking fried. Flash forward to 1,500 meter to go. Rodriguez and Hincappie are watching each other as the line draw near. BANG, an attack from the rear. It's, it's, YIKES, it's Vogels back from the dead. The group hesitates. You know the rest.

Chris Hepp
Mon, 11 Dec


No one seems to have mentioned Marty Nothstein's performance in the match sprint at Sydney. After a four year wait following his narrow defeat at the hands (or should I say legs?) of Fiedler, Marty came back to qualify first and dominate every opponent on his way to winning the gold medal, without losing a single ride. Deserves a vote at least, I'd say...

Christopher Moyer (0 and 1 in the match sprint against Marty in my career)
Champaign, IL, USA
Mon, 11 Dec

Virenque! Virenque! Virenque!

ALLEZ Richard! How could anyone forget Virenque's win in Morzine! That was pure class how he dropped everyone bar Heras on the Joux Plane, it was the only time in the entire Tour someone put Armstrong in difficulty.

Tue, 12 Dec


There is only one who in my opinion showed strength and determination beyond most others that being the Johan 'The Lion of Flanders' coming back to lay his ghosts to rest in 2000!

Steve Chitt
Mon, 11 Dec

Tchmil, Tafi, Ullrich, Zabel

Five greats:

  • The old fox Tchmil's ride in Flanders.
  • Tafi on his way to Tours
  • Tchmil in the same direction despite only finishing second.
  • Ullrich down under.
  • And don't forget Zabel who rode strong all over the year.

Alexander Vogt
Tue, 12 Dec


Ken Muhindi of Kenya. For getting out there and riding, for attempting something that people said he couldn't do, and for giving another non-mountain biking country a taste of the good life!

Paul Mirtschin
Melbourne, Australia
Tue, 12 Dec

Pantani - Saabsmackingly Brilliant

Marco Pantani showed a preview of things to come earlier this year with two different traffic accidents, but who would have guessed that he would reach such a level of driving ability as he showed in early November? To hit eight cars within one hour, avoid a breath test and walk away without any serious punishment or jail time is certainly unprecedented in the professional peloton. When you consider his level of distraction and the one-way street, it makes you wonder what he could achieve if he really put his whole effort into it.

For road performances on BICYCLES, my favorites include:

1 Armstrong's climb to Hautacam
2 Dekker's TdF stage wins and Classica victory
3 The collective efforts of Dufaux, Ullrich, Casagrande, Rebellin, and Armstrong at the Championship of Zurich. This certainly was the best one day race of the year.

Dave Hunt
Ivins, Utah USA
Mon, 11 Dec


Museeuw - Paris-Roubaix.

Christopher Lloyd
Mon, 11 Dec

Vainsteins and Wesemann

Vainsteins for his glorious und invisible big "hit" at Plouay. Shaming all the other great favorites he was not seen for nearly the whole race, but when it comes to the line he was the man. The tears at the podium were so sympathetic. He deserves the win for being so often first loser as second man at the line. And my second favorite is Steffen Wesemann for climbing the Muur van Geraadsbergen shocking the big Museeuw at Flandern. Tchmil can't be stopped but this ride of Wesemann was so exciting. He can be the man for next years classics. Look at him.

Volker Lefkes
Berlin, Germany
Tue, 12 Dec

Unsung Brilliance

Here are a few notable other races that, sadly, were probably not seen by too many people outside those in attendance. But for those that did, I can say with confidence that they will agree with me that these performances were pretty amazing.

1. McGrory and Aitken at the Sydney Olympics, winning Gold in their homeland in the inaugural Olympic Madison. It was an amazing display of courage, speed, strategy and good fortune (and a million other things) that propelled them atop the victors' podium. To have been witness to that performance left me without words. The way that those two guys executed their race tactics was textbook. To know what those guys went through this year and to then perform the way that they did in Sydney, WOW!

2. This one is somewhat self-serving, but none-the-less exciting. Gary Neiwand's campaign in the Keirin at those same Games. He was definitely the underdog going in (not even expected to compete until Hilly stepped aside - probably the greatest move Hilly has ever made, on or off the bike - good on ya', mate!), but his performance throughout the day served notice that he was going to be the man to beat. And, he didn't disappoint. He controlled the final like the true champion that he is, only to have the race not pan out in his favour as he had to take the lead too early for those 'old-timer' legs. As he rounded the final bend, still in the lead, all the determination and grit of his 25 year career was on display for everyone to see. He just didn't have enough 'Gaz' to make it across the line first - that elusive Olympic Gold still one step away on the podium. Three medals in three different Olympic Games - sounds familiar!!

3. The sub-four minute Team Pursuit in the Olympic Finals by the Germans.

Being track-side for these three events was an unbelievable experience. I have to imagine that TV did not do these events justice.

Curt Harnett
Toronto, Canada
Tue, 12 Dec

(Curt Harnett's medal tally includes 3 Olympic medals (2 bronze 1 silver), 2 world championship silvers 2 Commonwealth silver and the a still-unbeaten world record which, he says "still gets me on the start sheet!" h ereckons the Olympics included some of the best racing ever, and with those qualifications we believe him.)

Lister and Garzelli

Trevor Lister's ride at the Gateway Cup. Why? He's the man - what guts!!

Garzelli's Giro. What a young man with a lot of class. The way he rode in that final time trial to defeat Casagrande was unbelievable and so unexpected. I'll be watching him next year on Mapei.

Thomas Lister
Carlinville, Illinois United States
Tue, 12 Dec


Without a doubt, Tchmil at Flanders. Old Johan won Roubaix because he had the team, Tchmil had himself the previous week.

Tue, 12 Dec


So many great races are worth noting: Of course Zabel's World Cup and Green jersey campaigns, Museeuw's awesome Roubaix and embarrasing motorcycle crash, McKenzie's & Merckx's Giro victories, Triple Dekker + San Sebastian, Armstrong (of course), the Olympics...er, Van Moorsel's Olympics...a few other notables were in Sydney, too, Tafi's "in your face" Paris-Tours, Petrov's absolute dominance at Worlds.... But, I'm shocked to see that I'm the only fanatic out there that thinks Stefano Garzelli's Giro victory is worthy of praise!! His ruthless time trial attack on Casagrande at Sestriere is great story material for years to come! I think next year's battle at the Giro will be much more exciting compared to who's going to win the Tour. After Armstrong & Ullrich get done with the Tour, everyone else will be fighting for the scraps. BUT, who will take the 2001 Giro? Casagrande, Pantani, Garzelli will definitely be ready for battle. Will there be a new comer? Garzelli gets my vote for ride of the year.

David Mann
Little Rock, Arkansas, USA
Tue, 12 Dec

Museeuw and Tchmil and more

a Museeuw, Paris-Roubaix. Impossible. Not.
1b Tchmil, Ronde van Vlaanderen. Class.
3 Merckx, Stage 8, Giro di Italia.
4 Ullrich, Olympic road race. Attack of the year?
5 Pantani, Courchevel, TdF. That look on Jimenez' face.
6 Armstrong, Hautacam, TdF.
7 Erik Dekker x 4
8 Axelsson, Lombardy. A glorious defeat.

Kjetil Haaland
Hamar, Norway
Wed, 13 Dec

Oscar Freire

The best cyclist of 2000 has been Oscar Freire! Nine wins (two stages in Vuelta); bronze in Plouay (great race of Spanish team!) ;third In San Remo... and many injuries in this year. So VIVA OSCAR FREIRE

Nacho del Piñal
Santander Cantabria, Spain
Wed, 13 Dec


The man of the year is Erik Zabel. He booked 19 (in words: nineteen!) UCI wins, including 2 WC races, the overall World Cup, and a stage of the TdF. Don't forget the green jersey for the fifth time in a row. Winning races from January (Tour Down Under stage) to November (Six Days in Dortmund) is absolutely gobsmackingly brilliant !

Michael Kubis
Wed, 13 Dec


Best rider of 2000? That could only be Francesco Casagrande, being the only rider excellent in grand tours and the classics.

E H Elzinga
Wed, 13 Dec


I really tried to pick one, but it is absolutely impossible! My personal favorites: Lance at The Tour overall, especially Hautacam. Millar's prologue. The Spanish climbers. Tyler and Kevin's commitment to Lance.

The rest:

  • Paris-Roubaix: Museeuw's recovery over the last two years and his amazing strength at the end of this years race. Hincapie and Postal rode to win.
  • LBL: Bettini, Etxebarria, Merckx, Rebellin, Belli - what an amazing finish!!
  • "Little Matty White" (Phil's name for him): Unselfish work all year long. AND he's coming to the Posties!
  • Tyler up Ventoux and the overall GC at Dauphine.
  • That mountain bike/roadie kid Jess at the Zinger in Colorado.
  • Ullrich's Gold, Eki's Gold.
  • Axel's stage 8 at the Giro. Axels National Jersey.
  • Casagrande up the Mur de Huy at Fleche Wallone.
  • Tchmil at all the classics.
  • Mercury for showing we have more than the Posties over here... and for hooking up with Greg!
  • Tifosi.
  • Captain America running up the climbs at Le Tour.
  • Holden on the Podium (go California!)
  • Frankie's Diary.
  • Rob Coppo's daily Tour reports.

Sam Nainoa


Marty Nothstein, winning the only gold for the USA in the Olympics, qualifying first, then beating all comers on his way, undefeated to the gold medal, an incredible display or will, power, and determination to come back from the silver medal in 1996, even the class of the worlds best sprinters said he was untouchable. Thank you

Dave Hansen
Wed, 13 Dec

Van Moorsel

Leontien Zijlaard (Van Moorsel)

Who else has achieved more than her?

Lucy Vignes
Sydney, Australia
Thu, 14 Dec

Top five

  1. A steam train to Meerbeke: Andrei Tchmil.
  2. Saving his Tour on the Joux Plane: Lance Armstrong.
  3. Revenge in Roubaix: Johan Museeuw.
  4. Rebirth on the Izoard (Giro): Marco Pantani.
  5. Always at front: Erik Zabel

Jonas Coertjens
Thu, 14 Dec

Andrei Tchmil


  • Freire - What rainbow curse? This guy is good!
  • Armstong - The Champion, the Tour.
  • Museeuw - The legend, Roubaix).
  • Zabel - The Powerhouse in nearly every bunch gallop
  • Ullrich - Pure Class - I was at the Olympics, I saw it for myself.
  • Aitkin & McGory - For the greatest night of track racing ever seen in Australia.
  • Dekker - the form rider of 2000. If ya hang in there, your day will come.
  • Renshaw - Junior of the year (World Junior Kilo champ) - I am biased
  • Zijlard/Van Moorsel - she killed 'em!

But the best was the toughest: Tchmil - now that's how to ride a bike.

Mark Windsor
Bathurst NSW, Australia
Fri, 15 Dec


I agree with most everything written so far so I decided to include one not mentioned yet. I was a big fan of David McKenzie's stage win in the Giro this year. The typical laughed-at "suicide break", a la Jacky Durand. But he pulled it off, got the publicity for his team, and lots of well deserved praise. And all without meat! Even better!

Gurantz Oded
Berkeley, CA
Thu, 14 Dec

Memorable/Inspiring/Heartbreaking Rides

  • Paris-Nice: Kloden. A surprise to me and many others, I'm sure.
  • Flanders: Tchmil. He went away and nobody followed, dumb. It isn't like they hadn't seen this from him before.
  • Paris-Roubaix: Museeuw. A man among boys on that day. Used Andreau like a derny for a little while toward the end and then just went about his business.
  • Giro Stage 8: Merckx. Like father, like son, at least on this day. Awesome determination.
  • Dauphine: Hamilton. Probably the best form of his career. Good to see Lance pay it forward.
  • HP LaserJet Women's Challenge Stage. 10: Demet, Wilson. Lapped the field to give Anna the overall. Great gameplan, crazy strong.
  • TDF Stage. 10-Hautacam: Armstrong. Legendary ride.
  • TDF Stage. 12-Ventoux: Pantani. Christmas came early.
  • San Sebastian: Dekker. Great performance. You'd think that at least one rider would have had his M.O. by this point.
  • BMC Tour of Arlington: Woeful day. Still can't believe it. Nicole had such promise.
  • Olympic RR: Ullrich, Vinokourov, Kloden. I wonder what Kloden said to Vinokourov as Ullrich went away? Did you see the look on Vinokourov's face? I bet he would have beat them in a three up sprint.
  • Olympic TT: Ekimov. A surprise. A wonderful ride, certainly not undeserving, but a surprise nonetheless.
  • World's RR: Vainsteins. Super, and with no help. A very deserving win for the most consistent rider of the year.

T Sexton
Rochester, NY
Thu, 14 Dec

Another pack of faves


  • Millar in the TdF prologue - I wish I had a bet on that one.
  • Tafi in Paris Tours - What an attitude
  • Queally in the Olympic kilo - last British medalist in the kilo was Tommy Godwin (1948), my own club president!
  • Pantani any time he gets on a bike - Despite his history and problems he makes races so interesting.
  • Kelme attacking - As with Pantani, they just make racing that much more interesting to watch. Their attitude on how to win a race is just great.

But the Best Ride is:

  • Armstrong on the Hautacam - Gobsmackingly Brilliant, just as he was last year and they were all there to be blown off his wheel this time. No excuses.

Ryan Clark
Fri, 15 Dec


I think the mountain guys of the Kelme team made the season for me. Threatening everybody with their attacking on all the major climbs in France and Spain they turned the races into an action sport where you hardly had the time to take a nap on the long days. I'm sorry to hear that the team are falling apart but I'm sure they will find some new ones to replace the guys going for the money.

Bo Fibæk Sørensen
Sat, 16 Dec


Tchmil at Flanders - simply classic !

Ohio, USA
Sat, 16 Dec


When he won the Worlds, everybody said "Who?" and wondered what this nobody was doing there on the highest spot of the stage. Well, he really showed us this year what he was made of. And I truly hope he will continue to do so! I have followed him from the moment he finished second at the under 23 in San Sebastian and I sure he is capable of a lot more.

Marieke van Steijn
Haarlem, Holland
Sun, 17 Dec


I know he didn't win anything that day, but to see Stu O'Grady get back on his bike and ride 80km+ on a broken collarbone (breaking it in two more places in the process) in the TdF shows some serious determination. Watch out for him next year.

David Millar surely has to get the gutsiest rider award. Anyone who has ever raced will know how mentally and physically hard a solo break is, and to hold one for 164km - his mental attitude is an inspiration to anyone.

And Leontien (sp?) Van Moorsel/Zijlaard at the Olympics - to pull off gold in two separate disciplines has not been widely enough recognised. It's a pity she didn't have a crack at the mountain bikes too!

Simon van der Aa
Adelaide, Australia
Mon, 18 Dec


Casagrande, period. Unlike the rest of the rides listed here, Casagrande's ride started in March with the KOM at Paris-Nice and went all the way to the final sprint for victory at Lombardia.... and he performed throughout. In this day and age of keying on one or two races a year who else has had a ride like that recently?

Mon, 11 Dec


For me the best cyclist the Belgian Nico Mattan of the French Team Cofidis. He was good on the one day races and rode a great Tour. When he didn't have to help his captain and friend Frank Vandenbroucke he showed what a good rider he is.

Christine Kroth
Mon, 11 Dec


Without any doubt, Lance at Hautacam!

Ken Kontowicz
Tucson, AZ
Mon, 11 Dec


Armstrong at Hautacam; Museeuw at Roubaix; Tchmil at Flanders; all incredible, but all more or less the kind of excitement we expect from these champions. Most gobsmackingly brilliant ride of 2000? Leontien at Sydney was good, but it was a series of rides, not one ride in particular. My choice is Dufaux at Zurich. World Cup race, possibly the highest calibre breakaway in the history of the sport (a virtual rainbow jersey winners' reunion with the world number one and the TdF first and second place holders thrown in for good measure), and the man who has been down and out since the scandals of '98 wins it all in a brilliant tactical sprint! How does it get any better than that?

Keith Vandevere
Carmel Valley California USA
Mon, 11 Dec


Casagrande was the rider of the year. From Fleche all the way into late September, which is the mark of a true champion. Think how much more respect he would have if all those world cup second places and the Giro had been wins! He could have reasonably won the world cup if things had been different earlier in the season. It's been a long time since someone has had a palmares like that. And now under Ferretti's wing he will do even better next year, but will probably be overshadowed by Bartoli.

Matt Jennings
Tue, 12 Dec