Cycling 2009- The Year in Review

Lance Armstrong & Alberto Contador - Tour de France 2009, stage 6 Barcelona (La Conreria)

This is by no means an exhaustive retrospective. There are plenty of riders and/or events I left out. I basically touched on the guys that made me sit up and take notice for one reason or another over the course of the year.


Alberto Contador

Is there any doubt he’s the best rider of his generation?

The one fear I have about him is that he’s going to turn into Lance II and only focus on the Tour. Maybe that was Johan Bruyneel’s influence this year? I don’t know. I’m just hoping he rides some other races. I especially hope he continues to attend the the Giro and La Vuelta (doing a double with the Tour and one of those races would be great), but I’d love to see him actually race at the Worlds (on a course like this years, for example) or take a shot at one of the "climby" classics.

Alejandro Valverde

Just in time for his suspension he finally breaks through in a Grand Tour. I can stop dissing him now :)

Andy Schleck

Can he time trial well enough to really challenge Contador? If not, he’ll have to live with whatever Grand Tours Contador doesn’t race. Next year’s Giro might be a nice place to start. It’s a climber’s course if there ever was one. An uphill time trial evens things for Andy in a big way.

Cadel Evans

Cadel, wearing the rainbow jersey for BMC next year. Crazy times. Nice win for the Aussie.

He’ll have a few strong men around him with BMC. Should be interesting. I don’t think he’s going to best Contador, but he’ll make it competitive for the 2nd spot on the podium.


Mark Cavendish

Clearly the rider of the year. An unstoppable force in the sprints. Along with Contador, he’s going to be dominating cycling for years to come.

Get used to him.

Everyone else is riding for second.

Philippe Gilbert

Not a bad year: Giro di Lombardia, Paris-Tours, Stage 20 of the Giro d’Italia and a solid spring campaign (3rd in the Ronde van Vlaanderen and 4th in both Amstel Gold and Liège-Bastogne-Liège.) He makes things happen.

Damiano Cunego

Looks like he’s fully committed to being a one day specialist/stage hunter. He’d always been one, but based on recent interviews it seems like he’s stopped pretending he’s going to be riding for the GC. Which is good. He should play to his strengths and he’s massive in the one day affairs.

Ivan Basso

4th (after The Killer is wiped out of the Giro) at two Grand Tours in his first year back is solid, if somewhat disappointing. It’ll be interesting to see year two. What does a full year of riding in competition do to his form? Can he crank it up another notch?

I think he needs to spend some time in the wind tunnel. He can still climb with the best riders in the peloton, he just gives up too much time in the race against the clock.

Denis Menchov (Rabobank)

Denis Menchov

It was a great win in the Giro for the quiet Russian. Especially coupled with his victory in one of the best stages of the year at the Cinque Terre time trial. He didn’t do much else all year, however.

I’m sure he’ll take it as the centenary Giro is a real prize.

Fabian Cancellara

One of the most exciting riders in the peloton. His time trial abilities are insane, of course, but he’s an exciting rider in the one day races as well. When he sets his mind to win a race he’s guaranteed to stir things up even if he doesn’t walk away with the final prize. We need more of that- guys animating races.

I’d love to see him win the double at the Worlds one year.

Lance Armstrong

Not a bad result in the Tour. He was clearly the third best rider in the race, so he ended up where he belonged. Will he improve next year? It’s going to be tough, but he’s not the kind of guy you bet against.

I do know it’ll be a wonderful story for the press- Contador v. Armstrong. Many, many words will be written about that match-up. Even though Contador’s real battle might be with Menchov, Evans or Schleck.

Levi Leipheimer

He won the Levi Invitational, surprised Contador to win the Vuelta a Castilla y León and then bonked his way to a slightly disappointing 5th in the Giro. Personally, I’d been hoping he could land on the podium and become the first American to podium all three Grand Tours, but it was not to be.

And then came the crash in the Tour.


Well, there’s always next year…

Heinrich Haussler

Haussler was all over the spring classics. 2nd at the Ronde and 2nd at Milan-Sanremo and involved in plenty of other races throughout year. A very memorable campaign.

Johnny Hoogerland

What Haussler was to the spring, Johnny Hoogerland was to the fall. If you watched the Vuelta you knew his name. He was constantly attacking. He was so much fun to watch.


Me, in front of the Astana Truck


The stage race team. The drama team. The star power team. Love them or hate them, there’s no question that Astana was one of the most interesting teams to watch all year. Everything from the return of Vinokourov, to the pay scandals, the rivalry between Contador and Armstrong and the Contador contract controversy kept the Kazakh team in the headlines throughout the year. It’ll be calmer next year, if less powerful. Which leads to the big competitive question- will they have enough team to keep Contador safe in the Tour?

Team Columbia

My team of the year. So deep with talent and so successful throughout the year. Having Cav helps of course, but they’re stacked with stage winners- including the number 2 man in the peloton in terms of stage wins, André Greipel.

Team Saxo Bank

A juggernaut in their own right. Stacked with talent and managed to perfection, they’re consistently one of the prime movers of the peloton. With the power of the Schleck brothers, and Spartacus’ big engine they’re poised to remain so for many years to come.

Kreuziger Leads Liquigas


What pro tour jersey do I sport? You guessed it. A powerful grand tour team anchored by Basso and Pellizotti.

Pellizotti’s assault on the polka dot jersey this year was one of the Tour’s great subplots. He won a very classy victory in the event and styled into Paris on a polka dot bike.


Garmin Slipstream

On the positive- Wiggins surprised, climbing as well as he did in the Tour and Tyler Farrar proved he’s in the running for the title of second fastest man in the Peloton.

The negative? The terrible, classless decision to chase down the Hincapie breakaway during the Tour, costing the American what was probably his last chance at a yellow jersey. I don’t care who they sign for the next few years, I’m going to be rooting against Garmin at every turn. Which is a shame, because the individuals on the team are pretty cool and should be rooting for American teams, not against them.


I can’t wait until next year. Counting down the days until the Tour Down Under…

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