Phew. Yesterday’s news that Bradley Wiggins has signed on the dotted line for team Sky has finally drawn a line under the 2009 road season, and now we can all look forward to what promises to be an equally intriguing 2010.
But before we consign 2009 to the history books, we want to know who you consider the star performer of the year from the shortlist on our end-of-term poll.
Let’s cast a quick eye over the contenders.
Love him or loathe him, the seven-time Tour de France winner’s comeback in 2009 was perhaps the big story of the year, and he was rarely out of the headlines, whether for his performances on the bike – many believed a podium place in Paris was well beyond the Texan’s reach – or for his activities off it, whether that be organising bike rides flashmob-style via Twittter in the cities he visited, or auctioning his custom-painted Trek bikes off for charity. Only Armstrong himself knows for sure whether his failure to make up ground on Alberto Contador in the Tour de France was down to not wanting to attack a team-mate, or whether that extra burst in the legs has disappeared.
Four stage wins in the Giro d’Italia, including the opening day time trial that saw him become the first British rider to wear the maglia rosa. Six in the Tour de France, taking his career total into double figures and surpassing the record eight stage wins in the race by a British rider of Barry Hoban. Becoming only the second British rider to win Milan-San Remo, 45 years after Tom Simpson had won it. No fewer than 25 wins on the road during the season, and while cynics may point to some of his success being due to Columbia-HTC’s tireless train, it’s up to Cav to be in the right place at the right time to put the hammer down for the line.
This time last year, all was right with the world. Wiggo had won two gold medals in his natural element on the track at Beijing, and fans could look forward to him perhaps picking up the odd individual time trial win on the road in 2009. Enter Twiggo. The newly-svelte Garmin-Slipstream rider put in a phenomenal performance in the mountains during the Tour de France, right from the first Pyrenean stage up to Andorra when we realised he could climb a bit, right up to Mont Ventoux on the penultimate day when he grittily held on to his fourth place in the GC. He may not have made the podium this year, but Team Sky now have a genuine GC contender to work with next year.
It’s difficult to think of a Tour de France winner in recent years who has won the race with seemingly so little support from their team. Returning to the race he won in 2007 after a one-year absence due to Astana’s exclusion in 2008, Contador waited till the mountains then seemingly threw the team tactics book out of the window to put distance between himself and his GC rivals, most notably Lance Armstrong. By the time he took the yellow jersey on Stage 15, the cracks in the Astana squad were all too apparent, and the Spaniard’s isolation was subsequently confirmed when several of his apparent team-mates followed Armstrong to his new Team RadioShack outfit.
Over to you for the voting - and if there's anyone you think should have made the shortlist but didn't, feel free to let us know who and why in the comments below.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.