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Cyclingnews 2004 Reader Poll Results

Best Stage Race

The final Tour podium
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
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The Other Two grand tours rallied a bit in 2004 after taking a drubbing from the action-packed centenary Tour de France in 2003, but the Tour (TIOOYK) still took more than half the votes this year.

The deciding factor in your decision was the sight of history being made this year as Lance Armstrong took his sixth Tour de France. For some of you it was a slightly grudging decision as Armstrong and US Postal's domination of the race was so complete that it lacked the drama of 2003. However, Tour 2004 did feature superb sideshows in Thomas Voeckler's battle to stay in yellow for as long as possible, even though he knew the leader jersey was only on loan, the emergence of Ivan Basso as a contender and the ascendancy of Andreas Kloeden as his team leader Jan Ullrich faltered.

A close vote for second saw the Giro just edge out the Vuelta. Great stories came out of both races this year: the rise of Damiano Cunego from almost nowhere to king of Italian cycling at the Giro, dethroning his own team leader in the process, and US Postal's game of 'pass-the-jersey' at the Vuelta as Floyd Landis showed he has what it takes to lead and, perhaps, next year, win a grand tour.

Here are some of the reasons you gave for your choices.

Tour de France

  • The Tour is the benchmark of cycling. The Olympics means next to nothing compared to it for heavens sake. There are few sports that can say that. It's great and big and impressive and wouldn't it be nice if we got some mainstream coverage of something else. Anything else!
  • It is the race. The hardest. The fastest. The best!
  • Armstrong's dominant 6th win.
  • A record that will never be broken, probably. Also an exciting race.
  • History, tradition, beauty (and it's the only one that I get daily coverage of in my part of the country).
  • Tough decision. The Vuelta is more competitive for sure but at the end of the day it came down to which race the best stage racers train for and it had to be Le Tour.
  • Usually I enjoy the Giro or Vuelta better, as they are more open races, but coverage in the States is harder to come by.
  • It has the most prestige, although the Giro and Vuelta have tended to be more competitive and with fewer politics...
  • As intense as a spring classic but for three weeks.
  • Agony and Ecstasy.
  • The crucible of cycling, meets all three of Webster's versions of that word
  • Most power! Most fun! Best organized! Best filming for TV viewing!
  • It's the biggest and the baddest
  • Lance and Voekler
  • Lance wins 6, along with some exciting racing... and the cobbles where cool... my first child was born during the tour... I would rock her to sleep at night, watching the day's stage... if you have to be up at 2am with a screaming baby, you might as well get to watch Lance & listen to Phil and Paul.
  • I watched Bob Rolls arm-waving while being in the states doing some racing. I thought it might be cool if he started hitting his guests or the desk or something. I wouldn't want to be around him when he's holding a coffee cup.
  • You can't beat it. The vibe, the organisation, the promotion, the commitment of the guys to do well.
  • The historic significance of Armstrong's win and the majesty of his performance
  • Other stage races lacked in any star power, the Tour was the stage race of the season.
  • Even the non-cyclists know of this world class event
  • Yeah it was a bit of a snore this year but it's still biggest. The Tour of Spain was much more interesting.
  • Because for all the hope that Armstrong would fail, USPS showed what good preparation and riding like a team can do even when most of the other teams seemed to follow the same model but could not even come close to the same result.

Giro d'Italia

  • Bit more unpredictable than the Tour, scenery awesome.
  • One team going at it with 2 winners all the arguing, makes me want to turn on the Los Angelos Lakers
  • Watch the Italians attack each other, on and off the bike.
  • The youngster gave it to the old man. This year should be even better.
  • Unlike the Tour, it was a race, not a procession.
  • The mountains are so steep and the roads so narrow
  • Cunego's emergence. Simoni's ego. Fewer dull stages vs. Tour.
  • Because it's always a horse race. You never really know who will win until the last couple of days.
  • Very exciting watching Cunego attack on Gibo, and after losing the lead, fight back and regain in convincing fashion.
  • Suspense, inter-team rivalry. Completely unpredictable-the changing of the guard!
  • Best looking podium girls of all the Grand Tours, and some beautiful scenery too!
  • Damiano Cunego's emergence as a great rider, and the consistently good racing throughout the race by all the riders. The TdF by comparison was boring.
  • It was exciting from start to finish. You couldn't beat the emergence of newcomers like Cunego and Selle.
  • Most passionate fans. Not the crazy spectacle that the Tour is.
  • Three weeks of unpredictable, spontaneous and aggressive racing including 1) a surprise winner (to me, at least) 2) the rise and fall of Simoni, including gossip and speculation 3) a true fight for the honour of every stage win and 4) the sprint king in action. The TdF is booooring, and the Vuelta cast by doping cases.
  • Unexpected drama of intra-squad rivalry between Cunego and Simoni, revelation of a new star
  • Because life doesn't always end out the way the favourites want it to.
  • Days of Our Lives fodder between Cunego and Simoni. TdF was ultimately, a large bore.
  • Damiano Cunego came from nowhere to take the GC win and Petacchi 9 stage wins.

Vuelta a Espana

  • Because it was a wide open attacking race and the best rider still won... wait, so was the Tour... but the Vuelta was more so.
  • Excitement all the way until the end.
  • Unpredictable, plus my boys won stages and wore the leader's jersey
  • Great route, great racing. Doesn't have a whole week of flat dull stages.
  • Stayed exciting, sprinters doing battle in the mountains!
  • Surprises every day. Never know who will take the overall till the very last racer is finished on the very last stage.
  • Wide open for the entire 3 weeks. Heras could have lost that one.
  • The Santi Perez / Roberto Heras duel in the closing stages was fascinating.
  • Very competitive, goes down to the wire every year.
  • More diverse relative to flat and hilly stages with the exception of the Giro. However, this year the Giro was not up to par.
  • Beats every other stage race in suspense, action and has beautiful scenery.
  • Santi Perez winning two mountain stages in a row, plus the final time trial whilst never been known as a stage racer before.
  • Competitive from stage 1 to stage 21, unlike the other Grand Tours.
  • Drama. T-mobile pudding incident, Hamilton doping incident, USPS gold jersey trading, Valverde Crash/ Zabriskie long stage win, Perez's climbing.
  • Great race, and way more action-packed that the other big two. It's usually my favorite.


                                         Votes    %ge
1 Tour de France                           607   54.1
2 Giro d'Italia                            201   17.9
3 Vuelta a Espana                          176   15.7
4 Dodge Tour de Georgia                     27    2.4
5 Paris-Nice                                24    2.1
6 Jacobs Creek Tour Down Under              10    0.9
7 Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré               8    0.7
8 Tour of Switzerland                        6    0.5
9 Tour de Toona                              3    0.3
9 Tour de Faso                               3    0.3
9 Redland Classic                            3    0.3
9 Herald Sun Tour                            3    0.3
9 Fitchburg Longsjo Stage Race               3    0.3
9 Eneco Tour of Holland                      3    0.3
9 Criterium International                    3    0.3
Total                                     1122