30
Dec
09

ciclirati’s biggest and best of 2009

Ciclirati’s Biggest and Best 2009 Awards of all things two-wheeled have a couple typical categories, but tend toward memorable moments.  With very little pomp and circumstance, the awards go to:

Best Way to Fly – Jens Voigt’s Specialized Shiv TT setup.  Big fan of Jens, his panache, and the ‘little known facts’ lists.  I know that wind tunnel tests show that the height of the rider is less important than the width, but damn.

Biggest Surprise – Cuddles win at the Worlds.  I know I take too much pleasure in kicking this man when he’s down, but he seemed destined to never win a Big One.  Happy to see his “Don’t Step on My Dog” shirts to know he’s got some humor in there…somewhere.

Best Team – Cervelo Test Team. They brought a manufacturer’s team back to the pro peleton.  They chose their riders and personalities very smartly.  Along the way, a Green Jersey, stage wins in all the Grand Tours (including Haussler’s purest victory celebration of the year) and a unique connection to the fans.  Also responsible for the biggest bonehead move in stopping Serge Pauwels stage win, but you can’t win them all.

Best Examples of Cycling Superhuman Toughness – Pedro Horillo and Jens Voight.  Horrific crashes that can only be qualified as ‘near death experiences.’  I live in a less-than-cyclecentric area and get tired of defending how challenging the sport is.  “This NFL player broke his arm and came back with a cast next week.” Really? Jens hit the pavement in less than Under Armour at over 50 mph and bounced face first. He was all but ready to race in a week. Pedro fell off a cliff and broke and punctured everything.  He’s deciding whether or not to come back, but he’s a philosopher.  Educated, even.

Best Person in the Sport You Should Know More About  – Rebecca Rusch.  2009 (and 3x) MTB 24-hour solo world champion, 2009 Leadville champion, USAC Ultra Endurance Series Champion and a Super D victory at Crankworks just for fun.  The “Queen of Pain” has a palmares in cycling endurance and adventure racing that makes mere mortals cringe.  Incredibly nice person to boot.

Biggest Petty Grudge for the next decade – My already seething dislike of Team Sky and Brad Wiggins.  Their methods of getting riders, their handling of the dealings with Garmin, their declaration of being a super team based solely on budget.   Unfortunately, I liked a lot of the rest of their roster.  Boasson Hagen is ready to break through big and now gets to get throttled back.  Hopefully, Wiggo’s fashion sense doesn’t rub off on anybody.

Biggest Disappointment – Big George not getting his day in Yellow.  The classiest man in the sport denied because Garmin was jealous of Columbia’s success. Yes, there were tactical anomalies, green jersey battle, etc.. But Garmin’s own riders knew they were following orders they didn’t want to.  George still handled it as gracefully as anybody could.  Paris-Roubaix 2010 or Bust.

Biggest “What just happened?” – Denis Menchov’s inability to consistently keep the rubber side down.  For an automaton, you would think they’d improve his internal gyroscope.
Biggest “What just happened?” part deux – Bob Stapleton’s declaration that Armstrong is “passing the mantle” to Cavendish.  Sure, they’re buds and did a couple Lance-Channel videos.  Maybe Bob got nervous since this originated from a CNN interview – mainstream media can be scary. Maybe he ran out of different ways to work Cav’s name into a sentence without trying to redefine it as a new word.  Cav’s a star, he gives credit to his team, but there are a few other names sitting on equal footing.  Not to mention the Columbia Express is missing a key engineer and the last engine will be getting a late start.

Best French Hope – Julien Absalon.  Nope, much to the Badger’s chagrin, there is go Great French Hope that will capture the maillot jaune in Paris anytime soon.   However, Absalon reigns supreme on XC dirt, winning five of the last ten World Cup XC titles, including a dominant 2009 where he put together a 4-win streak.  He has also won four World Championship titles along the way, although two years removed from his last.

Biggest Unheralded Victory – Armstrong’s Leadville victory.  He had some ‘teammates.’  But, it was a mountain bike race, he had to keep pace and he rode the last half solo.  He crushed it.  Mix in a spring and fall Mellow Johnny’s Classic and he might just revive mountain biking.  The sport deserves it.

For those that won, congratulations.  Unfortunately, there doesn’t come a lot (or any) of notoriety, but I can send a t-shirt and coffee cup if you want…I mean, people need rags to clean bikes with and everybody could use another coffee cup.  For those wanting to win next year, start campaigning now!

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