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 second page. We'll continue to add to it as long as you continue to have opinions.
Best Rides? I'm not sure but:
Mari Holden winning Silver in the Sydney Olympics ITT and then on to a World's Gold, in Plouay, France in the same discipline. Pure Class. Best Photo: Mari on the Podium at the World's, the beaming smile saying it all.
Ekimov. The Man.
Armstrong and Zabriskie
Americans dominating the GP de Nations, who would have guessed? Armstrong won the elite race shortly after a bad accident, and young Dave Zabriskie put the icing on the cake by taking the under-23 race.
Erik Dekker's final jump leading to his victory in the Classica San Sebastian was one of sheer raw power and beauty! Elite pursuit group on full speed couldn't catch him.
Gethin Butler at the Merseyside 24 hours
Completely out of sights of international camera's and press, Gethin Butler had a magnificent ride at the Merseyside 24 hours. He managed to log 509.405 miles/815.048kms in this 24 hours individual time trial. Although not cracking Andy Wilkinson's 525 miles WR, he still placed himself among the very few riders in the world who managed to go beyond the 500miles mark. It was magnificent to see him clocking well over 40kms/h average during the first hours of the race, he was racing brilliantly when he passed me (I started about an hour before him).
Dekker, Axelsson, Bruylandts
Dekker's winning rides/attacks in both the TdF and Classica San Sebastian were most remarkable in 2000, because so far he has been a second-line rider, a domestique. He is sympathetic to the bone, non-glamorous, unobtrusive and honest. A true rider of class, but not pretending things like some others in the peloton. It's good to see men like him surprise all those oh-so-fashionable and favourite riders. And maybe he even saved Radobank's season.
Niklas Axelsson's ride in the Tour of Lombardy. Suicide-attacking all the great names in just the right moment and managing to stay away until the very last kilometre, this performance and his eventual defeat made for both goose pimples on the back and tears in the eyes of many a fan. Hopefully, he will show more of this next season with Mercury!
And finally, Dave Bruylandts' performance at Plouay was fantastic. He was always at the front controlling and gave his all to cover attacks and thus protect Tchmil tries for a Ronde-like victory. Riding for Division II Team Palmans last season and aged only 24, he has the potential to be next great potential Belgium cycling has should Museeuw and Tchmil ever retire. No surprise then that he rides for Domo next year.
I can't avoid mentioning the "hard men of Flanders", Tchmil and Museeuw. Their wins at the Ronde and Paris-Roubaix and the way they achieved them show to what extent cycling is alive and inspiring. If a sport's fascination and pulling-power is symbolized by a handful of its individual champions, these two have to be named top protagonists when answering the question of why cycling not only survives the heavy sea it is currently sailing, but also remains the mythical and exceptional sport it has been since the beginning. To see these men winning was to explore the sport's heritage and heart!
And yes, for me like David, the one day (classic) races have always formed and will remain the foundation of cycling in general. While performances of the likes of Indurain's and Armstrong's are stunning and outstanding, it's the memories of and outlooks for epic "if not today then never" rides that make me shiver. For me, it's the gritty and risky rides of, besides many others, Sean Kelly, Eric Vanderaerden, Claude Criquielion, Gilbert Duclos-Lassalle and lately Ludo Dierckxsens, Andrea Tafi, Jacky Durand or Axel Merckx, that deserve the most honour and respect.
Jan Ullrich's Olympic Gold.
This was the demonstration that road racing is a team game. An object lesson for all coaches.
Oh Come ON! How could there be any question of the best performance in 2000? It was Armstrong's Tour - no doubt at all. Not just the rides he did, but the grace, the self-control, the sensitivity, the humour and the sheer professionalism he displayed. I have a confession to make here, incidentally - shows how fickle the public can be, doesn't it? Pantani used to be my absolute hero 'til this Tour, and his response to Armstrong, and everything that was involved. Stuff it, Marco - see what a real hero is like!
Armstrong and Millar
1. Armstrong's Tour de France. He put it all together,
2. Millar's Prologue. Expect the unexpected.
Armstrong, Zabel, Fraser
An easy one for me:
1 Lance Armstrong's TT ride during Stage 19 of the Tour. He may have won by "only" 25 seconds over Jan Ullrich but he did it in Jan's backyard and in front of a gigantic pro-Ullrich audience. Armstrong's speed of nearly 54kph over the 58.5km route was mind-bending to comprehend. Lastly, Lance's superb ride also ensured he didn't leave the TdF as a winner without a stage win.
2 Erik Zabel's spring campaign. A sprinter who has transformed himself into an exceptional Classics rider. By the time the spring World Cup races were done, I don't think anyone in the peloton thought they had any chance of winning the World Cup from Zabel.
3 Gord Fraser's win in Stage 1 of the Criterium International. Mercury arrived in Europe and served warning as to their abilities come 2001. Stand by, the next wave is coming.
Best individual performance of any rider in any grade: Jeremy Yates, New Zealander in Junior World Race, ranked last, no team-mates, finished World Champion.
1 Armstrong on Hautacam
I'm embarrassed not to remember the stage but Axel Merckx took a stage of the Giro d'Italia that was breathtaking in its execution. I was fortunate to have seen this on the Outdoor Life Network which offered 2.5 hours of coverage each day of the tour. He made up a large deficit in the final kilometres. A break-away that included a couple of Kelme riders and 3 or 4 others had a large gap. He single-handedly caught them with a sustained drive. On the final decent some kilometres from the finish there was a tight turn and about half of the riders in the break away went down including Merckx. The group split. By the time he got back on the road there was a daunting gap between Merckx and those who remained upright who were working together and flying toward the finish. He caught them just before the finish in spectacular fashion. I was fortunate to see a lot of racing on TV this past year and saw some really good stuff. This was as good as it got.
Ekimov, Bortero, Armstrong, Merckx
1 Ekimov's gold. The dude is about 42 years old.
My vote for best ride of 2000 must go to Chris Boardman for his courageous world hour record, signing off a career of many highs (and, unfortunately, many lows).
Those who have seen Chris before major events know the mental hell he went through before riding. I saw him at close quarters before various Tour prologues - events, because of his misguided season programme, he just HAD to win. And, great credit to him, he often produced the goods. It must be remembered that many riders in the Tour wanted to win the prologue for a variety of reasons - from out-and-out specialists to sprinters eyeing up the jersey for a few days. Yes, the likes of Cipo et al. were valid rivals for the prologue. So the Tour prologues really were unofficial 'World' prologue titles.
Chris' tussles with the great Graeme Obree were one of the highlights of the decade. Two extremely talented individuals: one precise and meticulous to an annoying degree; the other appealingly amateur and off-the-wall. Both enormously talented.
Back to Chris' final ride. It was a huge gamble. Everybody knew that Chris could not be at peak form because of his widely-publicised testosterone deficit, and, to put it bluntly, his best years were behind him. So to end his career with this ride was once again piling huge pressure on himself.
I was on the back straight when Chris rode in for his last professional challenge. He looked drawn and anxious. I was drawn and anxious. Of course, everybody knows the outcome, but it was a roller-coaster ride. The record was comfortably within his grasp for much of the early part of the race, but then it all started to go wrong. Peter Keen had walked forward, round the track, to indicate how far Chris was up on the record. We all relaxed as Peter walked round the track, down the back straight, past us and round the final curve towards the start line. everything under control - no problems. Suddenly, Peter Keen reversed his walk, heading back round the track, past us and back towards the start line. This didn't look too good. Chris' gains were being cut right back. His head twisted to one side, he looked like he was on the limit, and yet he was still losing hard-gained advantage. And then - oh no! - Peter walked BEHIND the line and went back about 20 metres! Unless Chris pulled something out of the bag, the record was gone and his career would end with a valiant failure, but failure nonetheless.
The crowd yelled itself hoarse, with Mike Smith valiantly trashing his vocal cords (he couldn't commentate the next day!) Still no good. Finally, the cavalry, in the shape of Sally Boardman, came down to trackside. And the triumvirate of Sally, the crowd and Mike Smith helped Chris to tip the balance. How he raised the tempo in the last three minutes is beyond me. A true triumph of spirit over flesh.
And now for my close runners-up.
Nicole Cooke has to be there. Her great season was rounded off with a stunning victory at Plouay. Stunning because she dictated the race tactics and dominated the whole field. When she made her moves, you just knew they would pay off. And they always did. If Nicole can listen to advice and play the team game, she can be one of the key players for the next decade. Here's hoping.
Yvonne McGregor must also be there, for her stunning rides this year. She's always been up there with the best, but never quite able to raise the tempo when it mattered. She did this year.
Jason Queally is there as well, for his steady progression to the top. His brilliant ride gave heart not only to our cyclists, but also to Team GB. He raised cycling's profile with the general public, and his manner in winning was a credit to him.
What with the Linda McCartney team, David Millar (if he can knuckle down), Rob Hayles and all the other top class riders who are breaking through, it looks like British cycling is in for a few halcyon years.
Two rides I won't forget from 2000:
First, watching Chris Boardman (Mr Clean) being lifted from his bike after breaking the hour record. Although he only just broke it, it was at sea level which is 1km slower than altitude where Merckx set his - gets it into perspective doesn't it?
The other was 17 year old Nicole Cooke attacking again and again and again until she broke all of the other (older) riders in the women's junior World's. And the IOC said she was to young for the Olympics - hah!
Best ride for 2000: Casagrande winning Fleche Wallonne. His form was unbelievable, in fact he didn't even need to open him mouth. He just put down the power down to catch a flying Axel Merckx, and then simply rode away on the Mur de Huy. It looked so easy.
His attempted defence of the pink jersey during the final time trial stage of the Giro was remarkable in its contrast to his ride in Fleche Wallonne. On that day he looked decidedly ill - foaming water pouring from his mouth - yet he was giving it everything. It was a pity he couldn't hold the Maglia Rosa. Lets hope he can grab it next year.
Museeuw, Merckx, Tafi
1 Museeuw in P-R
One ride that really stands out is the last few kilometres of the Tour of Flanders. The mental and physical strength of Tchmil was awesome with the chasing pack literally breathing down his neck. Beautiful stuff. The other I 'm sure doesn't qualify but I'll tell you anyway. I managed to get home on my bike even faster than usual completely tanked up on Guinness and didn't even fall off! As good as Tchmil? Keep up the good work for all you guys who must spend more time in front of computers than on bikes.
Lance Armstrong’s ride up Hautacam has to be the ride of the year. Every key rider was there, and no one, NO ONE, could hang on to Lance. The Hautacam stage decided this years Tour and all competitors new this afterwards (and before). Lance demonstrated his superior athletic ability at this years tour on this stage. It will be a long time before we see a performance of this calibre in the Tour or any other bicycling race.
Chris Boardman, bone disease and all, breaks Merckx' record by 13 meagre feet. The last clean cyclist in the peloton prevails in the last 750m.
Jan Ullrich and Co exhibiting the brilliance of German efficiency in the Olympic team time trial aka road race.
Johan Museeuw's win at Roubaix!
Thomas Frischknecht: 2000 Olympic Mountain Bike Race
In front of the whole world, against athletes who had trained specifically
for this event, he laid it all on the line and exploded off the start
leaving all but a few of the top favourites in his wake and setting
a pace few could even imagine. He took one of the biggest gambles possible
and almost made it stick. Alas, it didn't pan out but my god that was
an exciting race and a gutsy move in a race of that magnitude. There's
a reason he's won more world cups that any other rider by far.
Vinokourov and Tafi
Two votes for the gobsmackingly brilliant:
Hautacam, stage 10.
US Postal, Armstrong, and Ekimov
There were a lot of amazing rides this year, but two stand out:
1 The US Postal team's France campaign. From taking Hamilton to the top of Ventoux and the top of the GC in the Dauphine to Armstrong's power moves on Hautacam, US Postal was impressive in 2000. Finishing with all 9 riders in Paris says something about the character of the team, not just about its leader.
2. Ekimov's year. Eki rode a strong support in le Tour, followed it up with a smashing victory with Armstrong in the Grand Prix des Nations, and put the icing on the cake in Sydney. This from a guy who's been in the peloton for a decade. Amazing stuff.
Armstrong up the Hautacam. Without a doubt, THE RIDE. One man against the mountain, alone and the suspense of the ride was would he or would he not catch the breakaway rider ahead.
My second place would be Museeuw's ride at Paris-Roubaix.
Another Top Five
My favourite performances for 2000:
Zabel - World cup victory + green jersey = STUD
I was lucky enough to be in France and watched on TV as Marco Pantani won going up Courchevel. I remember the TV commentator saying that Pantani couldn't catch José Maria Jimenez, who at the time was 4 minutes up on Pantani with only a few kilos to the finish. What the Pirate did in those last kilos was awesome. The commentator went from "he can't" to "he probably can't" to "can he?" to "this can't be!" Pantani passed Jimenez as if he were a second class climber, which he isn't, not to mention what he did to Armstrong, Heras, and company on that day. We know that Pantani was far from being in top shape in 2000, so we can just imagine what he has in store for us in 2001. I am from Montreal, Canada where we get very little cycling news never mind TV coverage, so the images of that day when the Pirate ruled supreme on Courchevel will be with me forever. And yes, I am a Pantani partisan.
I was there at the finish line when Eric Zabel took his stage at the Tour Down Under after a long break with Massimiliano Mori. They came in together, and right in front of me, with 50 meters to go, Z stepped on it and Mori just blew out a breath in frustrated admiration. After a brief salute Zabel wheeled around and gave Mori a big high five. I thought it was the classiest gesture I've ever seen in sport.
Alistair Sponsel: Who?
This isn't a tale of a brilliant professional victory; rather, it is a story of determination and perseverance. Nonetheless, to me, it is "gobsmackingly brilliant".
The feat was completed by my good friend and team-mate, Alistair Sponsel. It occurred during the utterly gruelling Zinger Bike Race which occurred July 15th, 2000 in the high mountains of Colorado. We were riding on the composite Rod East VW/Sugoi team, which was comprised of Texas-based amateurs. For those of you who haven't heard of or don't remember this epic race, it was a 140 mile "jaunt" over multiple 11,000 foot passes. The race was won by Scott Moniger of the Mercury squad in a time of 7:15 or so.
When Ali got dropped from the already diminished field (about 35 of the 110 starters were still together), he still had some 95 miles to go. On the descent of aptly-named Oh My God Road, a hair-raising, white-knuckle affair on gravel roads without guardrails and certain-death precipitous drops off the edge of the cliff, Alistair wrecked. Fortunately, he didn't plummet to his death. Unfortunately, his hopes of rejoining the main field were dashed. Unabated by the mishap, he pressed on. He headed towards the mammoth 3,000 foot partially paved climb of Guanella Pass.
By this time, the heavens began to open up. A once-pleasant (temperature-wise at least) day of 80 degrees and sunny soon became downright nasty with the mercury heading south some 30 degrees and light rain falling. As he churned upwards, riders calling it a day were headed back down the mountain for the warmth of team vehicles.
With incredible bullheadedness, he pressed on. Eventually he crested the climb and proceeded the descent of Guanella. On the descent he flatted. Neither our team van nor neutral support were to be found, so he was forced to descend the road, which hardly qualified as a road, on a front flat. This was the same section on which Moniger chose to use a mountain bike. At the bottom of the descent, he finally received a wheel change and picked up some additional clothes for the rain was now coming down good.
Only 45 miles and three passes to go. Yet, the stubborn kid pressed on. By the time he reached Breckenridge, the winners' interviews had long since been conducted, the barriers were coming down, and the temperature rested in the low 40s . Nine hours and 15 minutes after he began (and two hours after Moniger), Alistair had completed the most difficult one-day race in American history. He was the 23rd and final finisher on a day having ridden the last 95 miles solo. To me and my team-mates, his effort was heroic and inspirational.
Not to sound repetitive, but to me, the finest classics win of the year was Tchmil's win at Ronde. I find myself pulling for this guy in every classic. He is always near the front, and with the heart of a Clydesdale, he has to be considered a threat to win. He is a character of mythology! It's like he is hopelessly compelled to smash his body and talent on the sharp rocks of a race. Win going away, or die trying. I love to see characters like this get their wins.
Second, being from the States, Armstrong's ride up Hautacam was simply astounding. I was unable to see it live, but watching it I was reminded of the year Indurain did the same sort of ride. He lost to Leblanc that stage, but he ended the Tour. Seeing Lance power up the climb I could see him carving his name into the legend of the Tour. People will talk about that ride the way they talk about Chiapucchi's ride over five passes to win the stage. The ride of Lemond in the final TT of 89. The devastating rides of Merckx. If you have ever struggled up a steep grade, even as a kid, you have a benchmark by which to measure his super human effort.
And lastly, rarely have I paid attention to the team competition during the Tour. I enjoyed when the American teams were doing well, but never really cared who finished on top in that competition. But Kelme lit a fire this year. I was constantly checking to see where their 5th rider was. I cheered on Heras, Otxoa, and Botero daily. This team sponsor has been in the tour longer than any other, it was exciting to see them do so well. In winning both the team competition in the Tour and Vuelta, as well as the GC in the Vuelta, this team has got me anxious for '01.
Armstrong, Heras, Hamilton
1 "Lance Armstrong has taken nine whole minutes off the leader, and it will be more like nine and a half minutes by the end." Phil Liggett on Hautacam. For me, Lance takes the best ride of the year. He won the Tour de France in just under 30 minutes of riding.
2 Heras on Angliru. He went face-to-face with Casero on what is probably the hardest climb in the world, and walked away with the Vuelta in his pocket. And to think, he and Armstrong will be on the same team next season!
3 Tyler Hamilton's Dauphine Libere. This guy just rocks. I hope the Posties let him go out and try to win some more races, 'cause he does it with such class.
Got to be Johan Museeuw, the Classics master. Despite his old injuries he had been jumping and looking for the break in most of the early season one days and it was poetic but also almost inevitable that he would blast off in Roubaix forcing the rest of the field into surrender. "Top Mentions" obviously for Millar, Armstrong, McKenzie (in the Giro), Hammond (Ghent/Wevelgem) and the GB World's and Olympics teams. Well Done!
Six of the best
Although many moments from the past season are worth to be remembered, I've chosen the following personal highlights:
1 Lance Armstrong in the Tour: so much pressure, so much weight on his shoulders, so much unjust criticism. And yet winning in a very impressive way. Whatever juridical procedures the French are preparing, Armstrong is a real champion!
2 The big rivals: Museeuw and Tchmil: If they could, these 'old' men would drink each other's blood. Especially in the Spring classics, it's a pleasure to see the way these two try everything to be in front of their eternal enemy. Besides this heroic clash, these two know how to concentrate, control the course and to attack. They don't need any help, their ambition is sufficient to win. I really hope Museeuw is able to return at his best level.
3 Euskatel: Few things surprise me any more, but the great results of the pride of the Basques I didn't predict. It will be a pleasure to see the orange shirts during all the Classics and World Cup races. The promotion to Division I certainly is a great result! I'm just wondering if those Mediterranean climbers ever dreamt of conquering the bricks in northern France.
4 Erik Dekker: Without being nationalistic, someone who was expected to be no winner, but then wins three stages in the Tour in an unbelievable way and also wins in San Sebastian has to be mentioned in this context. No one, I think, was more surprised than Dekker himself!
5 Kam Po Wong: Globalisation is everywhere, even in cycling. But when someone from Hong Kong is able to finish in the top 400 of the UCI rankings, this man must be a great rider! Not to mention the wins in Langkawi, Korea, Okinawa and the South China Sea. And during the spare top races in which he was allowed to start (like the Olympics), his results were often better then those of many European professionals. What a shame that he turned down the offer of Mobilvetta, so we can't see him in next seasons European races!
I would have to nominate Ekimov for his brilliant ride in the Olympic Time Trial, Tchmil for Tour of Flanders and Brad McGee for his bronze in the Olympic Pursuit.
Ekimov has long been one of my favourite riders - who can forget the picture of him keeping a storming bunch at bay in the last kilometre of a Tour stage! To watch him win the Olympic TT (yes, I was there) was absolutely amazing. He looked so smooth and powerful that everyone could see he was on a good ride.
Tchmil in Tour of Flanders screaming along at 60km/h inspired me to go out and train (the first time I had done so in weeks with work and all). I must have bored my non cycling friends with the story countless times. Sorry guys!
And then there was Brad McGee in the pursuit. He did not seem to have the speed to beat Rob Hayles in the ride for bronze until the crowd started getting behind him. Once it looked like he was closing the gap everyone was up on their feet screaming their lungs out for their boy! With his surgery just before the Olympics it had to take so much guts just to go and try. After he won he kept thanking the crowd, showing his medal and pointing at us. What a man!
Museeuw. Paris-Roubaix. Obviously
Lance Armstrong on Hautacam! Why waste your time with these obscure rides and riders? Lance destroyed all the premier climbers and stage racers so thoroughly that it ended the race right there. And it was not just any old race.
I absolutely agree with David Voller. The history, the drama, the amazing feats of bravery and shear power of these men on bicycles through all sorts of terrain and weather. The one day World Cup Classics rule! A favourite is hard to pick for the year. With Museeuw, Tchmil, Zabel, Axelsson (almost) and Rumsas in the end, but I think I read and reread Tafi's the most. My all-time favourite is 1997 Giro di Lombardia where Jalabert won the day and Bartoli drove the break so hard for the final kilometres that the other three in the break could barely hold his wheel! He won the World Cup with that ride.
Ullrich in the Olympic Road Race for mine. I was there and it was as exciting as sport gets - the boy is back. And I'd also like to get the video.
Ullrich, Armstrong, Freire, Martinez
My nominations for the best performance of 2000:
1 Jan Ullrich - The Olympics. This guy takes way too much crap from the press, he peaked when it counted, and second spot on the tour podium is not exactly a bad performance either.
2 Lance Armstrong - Life. Why say any more?
3 Oscar Freire - The whole season in the Rainbow Jersey. This guy is overlooked way too often. He spent a good portion of the season on the podium, including a near miss at the World's.
4 Miguel Martinez - 2000 MTB Season. OK, I know this isn't road cycling, but. World Cup Champion, World Champion, Olympic Champion. This guy must be from Mars.(or France).
The Naumann Awards
Winning the Tour for Armstrong was great. Ullrich confirming he is a great champion in the Olympic Road Race also deserves top nods. And how about Zabel? But the ultimate ride for 2000 happened in Italy. Not on a bike but in a car, as Il Pirate himself managed to bang up 8 cars in one shot and walk away with clean hands. Marco proves he is still in a class by himself.
Even though many of us have spent a good deal of time over the past
couple of months unsuccessfully trying to leave the tragedy of Nicole
Reinhart's passing behind us, we would be remiss not to recall the fantastic
season she had in 2000. Nicole was building on a stream of brilliant
races too numerous to list here. Nicole was a wonderful person-she was
also an awesome cyclist. There was no one better on the bike in the
US in 2000.
It seems many contributors have chosen their favourite riders wins plus the usual suspects. Well for the usual suspects Lance without a doubt, with great contributions from USPS in the tour. Ullrich in Sydney, and especially Museeuw at Paris Roubaix. At my sentimental favourite Flash Gordon for all his wins especially the spring victories in Europe, as well as 15th plus third in pack sprint at the Five Ring circus, too bad the rain let up.
Among the ladies van Moorsel-Zijlaard at the O's. Jeanson at Fleche Wallonne, Clara Hughes TT's around the globe, and Pia Sundstedt for all the support to the Italians and Lithuanians.
I would have to say that there are two epic rides that come to mind when considering "gobsmackingly brilliant" rides. I would say that David McKenzie's great victory on stage 7 of the Giro d'Italia, would have to be up there as one of the best! I read a report from an Australian publication, Ride Cycling Review, and the way that Macca described the battle he went thru was awesome, he cruised up along-side Robbie McEwen, and said "he felt the desire to try a long move", Robbie replied "here's your chance", so off Macca went and quickly gained a lead. The peloton wouldn't see him again for the next four hours.
Over the ensuing 164kms a lot went thru Macca's - mind his wife, his family, and the doubters. We've all come across them, people that have no idea. David used those words as fuel, to put his body on the line, and go it alone. Imagine a long, lone ride through the heat, just like a training ride, except maybe for the Giro D'Italia. His lead measured 12 minutes at one stage, but as the end of the stage drew closer, the sprinters' teams could almost smell the finish line, David held on and managed to hold off the chasing peloton by 51 seconds, imagine the sensations he was feeling, at the sentimental home of cycling, thousands of fans offering encouragement, to push through the pain barrier, to basically suffer and suffer some more. David was awarded a special commemorative trophy named after the late, great Gino Bartali for his amazing exploits the previous day. "Macca" left for Prato with the roar of crowd still ringing in his ears, and a lump in his throat, David 'Macca' McKenzie awesome mate, and then some.
The second ride that I feel is worthy to mention is Scott Sunderland's ride at the World's in Plouay. I have previously scribbled a response when I read the report, courtesy of "CyclingNews.com", I can't say enough about Scott and his great ride. He has had a long battle with all sorts of problems, mental and physical, but the guy dug deep and came up trumps when he needed too. He was left out of our Olympic squad, but I won't go there- as they say that's "water under the bridge". I felt saddened for Scott for I feel the course was custom made for him, but he continued to train- in the Rain, and wet roads of Belgium- he could have quite easily chucked in the towel, and decided my seasons over, but he wanted one more parting shot at the doubters- and ohh what a shot it was!!!. So Scott you have showed us all what to do when you're down in the dumps and you think that everyone is having a go at you, just continue training- rain or shine. So yeah, you deserved that cigar, now all you have to do is to get Neil Storey to work on his map reading skills, and watch out Belgium 2002, well done Scotty.
In a year filled with great rides by great riders, for me, the guts ride of the year was Axel Merckx' win in stage 8 of this year's Giro. No one would have thought the less of him if he had been caught by the bunch after the crash, but he toughed it out. As Phil and Paul noted in the broadcast, it was a real lesson in not giving up.