Ed Picks The Fastest Sprinters On The Road
The Top 16 Sprinters of ’17: Ed Hood’s November contemplative mood and has taken a look back over the 2017 season to see who has been the most ‘winningest’ sprinter in the pro peloton. Here’s his Top 16 fastest finishers – a thorough list with a couple names you might not expect.
Marcel Kittel – No.1 fast-man for 2017
Who’s the fastest around?
PEZ takes you through the ‘pure’ sprinters who did the business in 2017 and what we think they’ll do in 2018.
Whilst we’ve included Pete Sagan and Alex Kristoff who you might say aren’t ‘pure’ sprinters they’re both pretty damn rapid – however we’ve excluded Michael Matthews, John Degenkolb, Edvald Boasson-Hagen and Matteo Trentin, quick though they may be.
16: Mark Cavendish: On just one win in 2017, stage 1 of the Abu Dhabi Tour (two if you count the Saitama Crit on Sunday, a non UCI event), but we can’t exclude the formerly fastest man alive. His season has been compromised by illness and injury – what about 2018? Even the fastest slow down eventually; that said we’d have bet the house on him NOT winning four Tour stages in 2016, so he’s surprised us before. The Manxman stays with Dimension Data for 2018.
One win in Abu Dhabi
15: Sacha Modolo: When he debuted as a neo pro with fourth place in Milano-Sanremo in 2010 we thought the Italian was the ‘next Cipo’ but two of his four wins in 2018 came in the Tour of Croatia. It’s hard to see him winning big with EF Education First-Drapac (formerly Cannondale-Drapac) in 2018.
Tour of Poland win for Modolo
14: Andre Greipel: With stage wins in Paris-Nice and the Giro among his five wins, one can’t say the big German had a poor season – but go back two seasons and he was winning a stage in every race he started. Like Modolo we think he’s on a snake rather than a ladder on the sprinters’ game board – he stays with Lotto Soudal for next year.
Giro stage win for the ‘Gorilla
13: Bran Coquard: The little Frenchman first caught the eye with silver medals in the U23 Worlds road race and Olympic omnium in 2012. He’s quick but hasn’t really progressed like we expected; his fall out with management at Direct Energie won’t have helped and he’ll be hoping to better his five wins with Vital Concept in 2018 – and get a Tour ride.
A tough win in the Belgium Tour for Coquard
12: Nacer Bouhanni: Fast, fearless, aggressive, seven wins – but why can’t he win big?
Nokere Koerse was a nice one but he must build on that. He’ll be hoping that his new boss, the hugely experienced Cedric Vasseur will breathe new life into him and the ever present but ineffectual Cofidis equipe in 2018.
Yorkshire stage 2 for Bouhanni
11: Jon Aberasturi: Who? All of the Spaniards eight wins with Team UKYO were achieved in Asia but for 2018 he moves up to Pro Continental with Euskadi Basque Country-Murias so we can see how fast he really is. . .
Jon Aberasturi got the better of Jakub Mareczko in stage 1 of the Tour of Hainan
10: Sam Bennett: The man from the Emerald Isle coming along nicely, he won a stage in Paris-Nice, came close in the Giro then there was that orgy of stage wins in Turkey, four of his season total of nine. He sticks with Bora-Hansgrohe for the next two years and we only see him climbing the ladder.
Bennett is no Turkey – Tour of Turkey stage 2
9: Alex Kristoff: Perhaps he shouldn’t be in with these ‘pure’ guys but his Worlds silver reminded us there’s life in the Old Norge yet. He took nine bouquets, albeit there were no Grand Tour stages or Classics in there – and that’s what Katusha were paying the big roubles for. He’s with UAE-Team Emirates from 01:01:2018 – change of jersey, faces round the dinner table and all that. . .
Rund um den Finanzplatz Eschborn-Frankfurt
8: Dylan Groenewegen: Us hacks always like a ‘Flying Dutchman’ to talk about and at 24 years-old he’s coming nicely to the boil with nine victories – that win on the Champs Élysées in July means he’s major league now. Team LottoNL-Jumbo remains ‘home’ for 2018.
The big Paris win for Groenewegen
7: Elia Viviani: We had down as a ‘nearly’ man – no longer, ‘only’ nine wins but real quality in there with Hamburg and Plouay late season announcing his arrival. He joins mega squadra Quick-Step Floors for 2018; with Fernando Gaviria remaining aboard for 2018 Mr. Lefevere isn’t going to be short of wins next year. Oh! And he WILL get Grand Tour rides with the Belgian team, not like some teams we could mention.
A classic sprint from Viviani in the Cyclassics Hamburg
6: Caleb Ewan: Giro stages never come easy so ‘respect’ for that but four of the diminutive antipodean’s 10 wins came in the Tour Down Under, we’ll watch his progress with Orica in 2018 with interest.
Tour Down Under win for Ewan
5: Arnaud Démare: Stages in Paris-Nice, Dunkerque, the Dauphine, the French Nationals and le Tour mean he passes muster on his 10 successes but you get the feeling he could be even better. F des J hold on to their prize for another year.
Tour stage for the National champ Démare
4: Jakub Mareczko: Currently rampaging across China’s ‘Country Garden’ of Hainan with five stage wins we’ve had our eye on him for a while – those two stage wins in Turkey in 2016 were impressive. This year there were two second places in the Giro and many of his 15 wins came in Asia; but he’s quick, only 23 years-old – we’re looking for bigger wins in 2018; he sticks with Pippo and the boys at Willier Trestina-Selle Italia.
Jakub Mareczko – Five stages and the points jersey in Hainan
3: Peter Sagan: Not really a ‘pure’ sprinter but he’s so damn fast we have to include him. He won 12 in 2018, including Kuurne, stages in Tirreno, The Worlds, California, Suisse, le Tour, Pologne, Binckbank and the GP Quebec. It wasn’t a bad season. . . He stays with Bora hansgrohe.
Sagan making history at the Worlds
2: Fernando Gaviria: There were 14 wins with four stages coming in the Giro; granted four were in Guangxi, China but the Championship of Flanders is never a soft win nor are Tirreno stages.
He stays with Quick-Step Floors for 2018 and we see him as ‘The Man’ for next year.
There will be a lot more from the Colombian in 2018
1: Marcel Kittel: Quantity and quality from Kittel, 14 wins with five coming in the world’s biggest bike race, the Tour de France. Yes, there were desert wins but they came too in De Panne and the Scheldeprijs where he took his record fifth win. Whilst he’s the undisputed king of the sprinters this year, we see his move to Katusha-Alpecin as one which will do his bank balance no harm but will mean he doesn’t win like he has this year. We wait to be proved right. . . or wrong.
New team in 2018 and more wins for Kittel
# How long is it ‘til Gent-Gent? #
It was November 2005 when Ed Hood first penned a piece for PEZ, on US legend Mike Neel. Since then he’s covered all of the Grand Tours and Monuments for PEZ and has an article count in excess of 1,500 in the archive. He was a Scottish champion cyclist himself – many years and kilograms ago – and still owns a Klein Attitude, Dura Ace carbon Giant and a Fixie. He and fellow Scot and PEZ contributor Martin Williamson run the Scottish site www.veloveritas.co.uk where more of his musings on our sport can be found.