by Kate Smart
It’s that time of year when we reflect on the year that was.
So, in no particular order, and, at times, with tongue firmly planted in cheek, here’s my two cents worth of the moments in the 2013 cycling season that I enjoyed the most.
Cyclists with magnificent hair
As I’m talking about my highs for the year, no pun intended, Marcel Kittel and his magnificent quiff takes first prize.
Dear reader, I must confess to being an absolute sucker for a quiff and Mr Kittel has provided one of the best I’ve drooled over in a mighty long time.
In fact, I’m almost tempted to change my position on bike helmets. Surely, it must be some kind of travesty to hide a mane that superb under such a bulky and unflattering piece of kit.
Let that beautifully sculpted hair run free, I say.
In all seriousness, though, Kittel had a successful 2013, capped off with four stage wins in the Tour de France and ending Mark Cavendish’s grip on the final sprint along the Champs Elysée.
I do look forward seeing more of the German sprinter in 2014.
This year’s Giro was one of the best three week races I’ve stayed up very late for.
At times, I thought I’d wondered into The Lord of Rings, as Gandalf bravely attempted to take the fellowship over Caradhras, with Saruman sending a violent and punishing snowstorm crashing down them to stop them.
But alas, it was not a movie. The snow was all very real and the action was fascinating.
Vincenzo Nibali won his first Giro and he did it with style. The Italian showed us how you can lead a three week race, for almost three weeks, and not bore us to death.
Were you watching Team Sky?
Spring didn’t get the memo
This year’s spring classics never eventuated, instead we were treated to what I call the ‘prolonged winter classics’ and what a chocolate coated treat it was.
First mention, here, goes to Milan-San Remo.It was bloody cold and in this instance, I’m sure you’ll agree that pictures speak louder than words.
If a Norwegian is feeling the cold, what hope is there for anyone else? Thor Hushovd.
The team bus had better have good heating. Left to right: Robbie Hunter, David Millar, Fabian Wegman.
Why I love Spartacus
He may not have finished on the top step at Milan San Remo, but the big Swiss, Fabian Cancellara out foxed and out rode Peter Sagan, attacking for the final time on the Paterberg Hill and winning his second Tour of Flanders. It was fitting for the Easter Sunday Easter Egg race, I mean bike race to be won by the Swiss maestro.
Then came Paris-Roubaix.
We may once again have been robbed of a Cancellara v Boonen showdown, but we were not robbed of an exciting race.
Spartacus took this as an opportunity to give young Belgium, Sep Vanmarcke of (what is now Team Belkin) a lesson in how to play cat and mouse and come out the victor in the Roubaix velodrome.
I suspect, that even the most ardent road cycling fan, for just a second, discovered a new love for the tricks of track cycling.
Surely everybody enjoyed watching the young Columbian attack and attack again during the Tour de France.
He didn’t win on Mont Ventoux, and it wasn’t through lack of trying either, but he wasn’t put off from trying again and again to win a mountain stage. He then went on to give a mountain stage victory another crack on Alpe d’Huez, although it wasn’t until stage 20, that he finally took a stage victory.
Quintana finished the TdF 2nd overall as well winning the white and polka-dot jerseys.
I just want to put this little munchkin-like South American on my mantle piece.
Quintana has put the goat into mountain goat and I can’t wait to watch him climb next year.
Yes, yes, I’m a biased Australian and I’m gloating over our Ashes victory and now you’re all subjected to my patriotism.
Cadel Evans has once again proved his detractors wrong.
The gutsy Australian rode a fantastic Giro to claim a place on the podium. Evans is the first Australian to podium on all three Grand Tours and just when everyone is sticking the knives in, writing him off, out he comes and shows his tenacity on a little roll around Italy.
There are some who just can’t help themselves, though and insist on taking continued pot shots at Cuddles.
You know how it goes, “Oh, he only did so well because they had to reroute some of the stages”.
Or how about, “Yeah, but one more day and he would have been off the podium”.
Seriously, the last time I watched the Giro, and yes it is rather late at night for me here in the Southern Hemisphere, but I’m pretty sure all of the riders ride the same days in the same conditions.
Orica GreenEdge at the Tour de France
Ok, jokes about the bus stuck under the gantry aside, finally, the stage victory we Aussies had been sitting up all night for arrived.
Admittedly, I think many of us were hoping for a Gossy victory after coming so tantalizing close last year, but we were undoubtedly super excited for our first World Tour team, claiming their first TdF stage victory.
Simon Gerrans surprised everyone, including Peter Sagan, when he rolled across the line first on stage 3. The two riders were separated by what my mother would describe as ‘a bee’s dick’.
The team then won stage 4 by what was a similarly narrow margin, over OPQS.
What a wonderful tour for the Aussie team and with a couple of days in yellow to boot, we were all gloriously delirious with TdF love.
I have left my favourite rider and favourite Australian til last.
7 Grand Tours in a row is an awesome feat.
Winning his first stage in a Grand Tour at this year’s Giro in the pouring rain was priceless and well worth sitting up to the wee hours of the morning.
The man is also a twitter champ. His posts are hilarious, especially his posts chronicling Lotto training camps. Take a look if you haven’t already done so.
He’s also named his whippet, Lotto, which I think is fantastic. I love dogs and I desperately want a puppy, a term I attribute to all canines and seeing Lotto curled up on his owner’s lap, just makes want a dog more.
And as with Crankpooch, I am, in my spare time, plotting an abduction of Lotto.
These are some of my top moments from 2013. There were a few others that didn’t quite make the cut and I’m sure your list may be a little less Aussie centred, but I hope you enjoyed it anyway.
For those of you reading this who celebrate Christmas, I hope you have a very merry and safe one.
For those of you who don’t, you’re super lucky as I suspect you won’t be on the verge of a diabetic coma in the coming days…