10. Marco Marcarto, Paris-Tours
Paris-Tours was good fun as usual this year as the breakaway dueled with the sprinters, before John Deglenkob left the sprinter camp and broke away single handedly, but failed to catch the break. Ahead, the break was busy messing around and trying to get each other disqualified. General all round fun for the family.
9. Francesco Gavazzi, Tour of Beijing Stage 3
Yeeeesss, the Tour of Beijing was good as a race this year, if still a rubbish political statement, and the best stage was this third stage, where Boassen Hagen had the win wrapped up for Sky before it transpired the final climb was actually quite nasty. His legs failed, and with seconds to spare, he was passed to finish only third.
8. Sven Nys, Zonhoven Cyclecross
Before you complain, Cycle-cross is proper racing. This one was an excellent example of the discipline, with sand, road and mud as well as all the crashes and technical wizardry of the riders. The downhill sand pit played its part and when it cam down to Nys v Albert, the pair had a tetchy fight on the last lap with some questionable blocking moves and tactics.
7. Phillipe Gilbert, World Championships
A rather dull World Championship until the last lap, Gilbert charged off on the Cauberg, and then the break behind had a bit of a muddle deciding whether to chase or not. Boassen Hagen and Valverde eventually got away to chase, but couldn’t catch the Belgian.
6. Tom Boonen, Paris-Roubaix
Not a instant gratification excitement race, Paris-Roubaix was a long tense thriller pitching Tornado Tom against the combined might of all the other riders. When he went early, he seemed doomed to failure, but the time kept creeping up and it was only in the last 5km that it seemed certain he wouldn’t crack.
5. Matteo Rabottini, Giro d’italia, Stage 15
Rabottini, resplendent in that fluro kit, had been in the mountain breakaway for a while, but then Joaquim Rodriguez charged out of the pack to catch him up. Rabottini seemed doomed, but somehow summoned the strength to beat the punchy Spaniard.
4. Alberto Contador, Vuelta a Espana Stage 17
Contador’s ridiculous mountain break was initially missed by the cameras, but then it became a pursuit between him and Valverde, with Rodriguez slipping away in the back ground. Worth enjoying again.
3. Thomas De Gendt, Giro d’Italia Stage 20
The Giro came alive on this stage, as Thomas de Gendt rode away on the Mortitolo, and everyone concentrated on battle between Rodriguez and Hesjedal. But then de Gendt started riding away, gaining time, and for a while, it looked like he could be riding into the lead. He didn’t quite manage that, but set up a podium placing whilst Rodriguez hauled himself away from Rodriguez in stunning scenery to try and win the race overall.
2. Alejandro Valverde, Vuelta a Espana Stage 8
Contador looked to have wrapped this one up with a couple of hundred metres to go, with no one else in the picture. Yet somehow he was still caught. Crazy stuff.
1. Iijo Keisse, Tour of Turkey
If you have seen this before, you’ll watch it for the mesmerising story. If you havent…well, its arguably the best finish to a race ever, especially in the context of the tragedy that has befallen the victor across the years.