Apart from family, what could be more important than wine and bikes? Of course, there might be the odd rant about other topics on here too...

Friday, November 18, 2005

2005, what a year!

I was thinking during my morning commute about the 2005 season. To my mind, it started much stronger than it finished - I feel like the TdF has taken the wind out of the past few seasons. Anyway, I was trying to think about the best riders of 2005, and since rankings and the concept of 'best' don't make that much sense, I started thinking about 10 riders that I think made 2005 another great year in professional cycling:

10 outstanding riders in 2005

  • Boonen - Flanders, Roubaix and Worlds, second in the ProTour classification - not half bad!
  • Hincapie - KBK, 2nd at Roubaix, topping and tailing at the Dauphine, the Queen's stage at the Tour
  • Di Luca - inaugural ProTour, an awe-inspiring 4th in the Giro, Amstel Gold and Fleche Wallone
  • Vinokourov - LBL, mixing it up at the Tour - including his final day stage win
  • Jullich - Paris Nice, Crit International, Benelux Tour
  • Popovych - Catalunya and Giro (and that Dauphine break with Hincapie)
  • Armstrong - #7
  • Leipheimer - Tour of Germany, narrowly missed a top 5 at the Tour, 3rd and wore yellow at the Dauphine
  • Bettini (after mixing it up all season (without the results), pulled Zurich and Lombardy out of the bag)
  • Pettachi (Got his Milan-San Remo win, along with stages from Valencia through Romandie and the Giro (although it took 9 stages to get the first one) all the way to the Vuelta (although by his standards, he had a disappointing Worlds)

10 Notable mentions:

  • Zabel - Got the second place monkey off his back with the Paris-Tours win
  • Zabriskie (one of only three riders to wear this year's yellow jersey at the Tour)
    Botero (for his Romandie win)
  • Flecha (like Bettini, he adds excitement to every race he's in - narrowly/unfairly pipped for a rare classics win for Spain at Gent-Wevelgem and a very solid third in Roubaix)
  • Voigt (wore yellow at the Tour, narrowly lost LBL to Vino, massively influential in Jullich's Paris-Nice win)
  • Heras (4th Vuelta win - assuming it was clean...)
  • Basso (stage wins despite stomach problems at the Giro and second overall at the Tour)
  • Chris Horner (exciting debut Tour and great Swiss Tour stage win)
  • Rujano (helped to light up the Giro along with his Selle Italia colleagues)
  • Wherry - an American winner in Philly...
  • Danielson - Tour de Georgia winner

5 Muted seasons - those that didn't live up to the hype (including due to injury):

  • Freire (injuries followed up his solid Tirreno-Adriatico win)
  • Rebellin (third in the ProTour standings, but in a Thor Hushovd sort of way...)
  • Cunego (lets hope his health holds in '06)
  • Landis (needs to step up to live up to the hype)
  • Valverde (despite his stage win at the Tour)

5 things that were not so good about the 2005 season

  • ProTour event quality/consistency. The Benelux Tour suffered from amazing dis-organization and did any top riders compete in the Eindhoven TTT?
  • Gent-Wevelgem finish
  • 2006 TdF presentation without even a mention of Armstrong's legacy
  • TV coverage in the US after the TdF (Even if they don't cover live races, Cyclism Sunday was something...)
  • Mickael Rasmussen's TdF time trial

5 things worth remembering

  • Amy Gillet RIP
  • Cipo's late night run at the Giro prologue
  • American successes - Jullich, Hincapie, Zabriskie, Danielson, Wherry, oh, and Armstrong
  • The Giro
  • Armstrong overtaking Ullrich in the TdF opening time trial