It’s time for my favourite post of the year: The Pro Cycling Pub Quiz! Questions will (hopefully) get progressively harder and will test your memory of the entire season. Don’t bother visiting Procyclingstats.com – you’re only cheating yourself! Answer by commenting below or messaging me @justprocycling on Twitter. Enjoy!
The best race you (might) not have been watching returns on Thursday, for ‘just’ its 98th edition. The first race was actually held in 1876 which means it’s older than Swan Lake, Tomato Ketchup and even the Gramophone. Some sources state the modern bicycle wasn’t even invented until 1885 – what were the ten original starters even using?
Okay, so what happens if it’s not Peter Sagan, Greg Van Avermaet or Michael Matthews? What happens if Michal Kwiatkowski goes missing or Julian Alaphilippe cracks?
The World Championships attracts anybody with even a whisper of one-day form as well as a whole host of Grand Tour stage winners. We’ve seen aggression in the U23 races with superstar-in-waiting Elena Pirrone going solo in the women’s race and both Benoit Cosnefroy and Lennard Kamna holding their advantage to the end of the men’s. I’m expecting a great race on Sunday and there’s plenty of eye-catchers further now down the list.
We’ve never seen a hat-trick of World Championship victories at either the men’s or women’s elite road race. Two-timer Gianni Bugno didn’t ride in 1993, whilst his compatriot Paulo Bettini was unable to complete a hat-trick in 2008 (the jersey did, at least, stay with Italy). On the women’s side of the sport we’ve seen Giorgia Bronzini and Marianne Vos complete doubles in the last ten years. Bronzini was dropped when going for a third straight title whilst Vos jumped early before tiring in a reduced sprint in Ponferrada. This year Peter Sagan is lining up a famous treble and the bookies are saying he’s the most likely winner.
It’s time to talk about Australia and in particular Michael Matthews. The current cycling calendar starts with an Australian flavour and I’m sure the Aussies heading to Bergen would love to put their country back in the spotlight at the end of the year.
The perfect storm! Chris Froome completes historic Tour/Vuelta double – the first of its kind – on the same day that multiple Grand Tour winner Alberto Contador – the last of his kind – bows out in home race following fairytale stage win. Forget BBC Sports Personality of the Year, Chris Froome wasn’t even the highest trending pro cyclist on Twitter. Well, not at first anyway. By the time he sprinted to 11th to deny four-time stage winner Matteo Trentin the green jersey Contador was almost a distant memory.
Move over Vincenzo Nibali there’s a new threat to Chris Froome. Miguel Angel ‘Superman’ Lopez is also challenging ‘The Shark’ to the most popular nickname in pro cycling. His performances this past week have certainly showcased his superstar potential and you’ll see plenty of superman references floating around Twitter. The origin of his nickname is a little less fun. Swarmed by knife-wielding thieves on a training ride in Colombia, Lopez fended offer any threat and, presumably, saved his much-loved bike. It’s no wonder he’s so cool in the face of the Vuelta’s most daunting summit finishes.