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Lee’s Alternative 2015 Awards

The end of the year in here and so it’s awards time. The World of Lowdown is proud to announce the ‘Lee’s Alternative Awards for 2015’ as always judged by the head of Lowdown – Lee Rodgers. As you might imagine they are not all for good works, but they are all apt. So we roll out the virtual red carpet for our recipients (good and bad).

I admit it, I’m drunk-writing at the moment, even though I haven’t had a real drink since Boxing Day, but you know how heavy rain soaks real deep and raises the water table? Well, yeah, it’s kinda like that. My Ma just passed me a sherry and it’s got me ripped again. If anyone out there wants a date right now, trust me, I’m a cheap one… and I shave my legs, so…

Right, onto my Alternative Awards of 2015, here we go.

Biggest Let Down of 2015:
Got to be Brian Cookson. Yes, the UCI under Cookson brought in the four year ban for EPO abuse and the like but it’s still way too short of what the ban really should be (lifetime for me for EPO, you don’t exactly fall on a needle full of it do you?). However it was the UCI’s failure to deal with Astana and their myriad positives, on both their World Tour squad and their Continental team that truly ushered them in to top spot in the Biggest Let Down category.

On the Conti side Ilya Davidenok, Victor Okishev and Artur Fedosseyev got busted for anabolic steroids (how passé) and on the WT side of things, it was the Iglinsky brothers, Valenti and Maxim that got popped. I rode against these two at the 2011 Tour de Kumano in Japan, was in the break with them and got absolutely ripped apart by them too, ah! Fond memories!

The UCI tried to kick them out but failed miserably, a la Katusha, and thereby in a stroke proved that their lawyers suck and that they have very little real power in the whole scheme of things, despite the fact that they run the show.

Bah humbug, I say!

Stick to the ‘selfies’ Brian

Biggest Personality in World Cycling:
And the award goes to Peter Sagan. Yes, a bit of an obvious choice but I’m not opting for the affable fellow from Slovenia because he won the Worlds when he was one of the most heavily marked men in the peloton, but for other reasons. First off, he managed to put up with that sweet and gentle character that is Oleg Tinkov and all the crap that comes out of his mouth for an entire year! Imagine that. Never mind waterboarding, that is proper torture.

Secondly, he recreated the best scene in Wolf of Wall Street after his 5th second win in this year’s Tour de France, which in all honesty is worth this award in itself.

Thirdly and most importantly, he gave a speech right after he had won the Worlds which showed a depth of humanity that reminded all of us that hey, even though most of them seem like selfish, spoilt brats all the time, they are actually human – or, at least, this guy is. Well, done Pete.

Best Grand Tour of 2015
Hands down this award goes to the Vuelta a España. With the hot favorites having a nightmare – Nibali DQ’d, Froome put with a fracture and Quintana losing minutes on Stage 11 – the race was the most open and closely fought Grand Tour we’ve seen in years.

Tom Dumoulin cited the transformation of Wiggins from track star to Tour winner as his motivation to get into such great shape for the Vuelta, and his ride shocked just about everyone who watched the race. Rafael Majka emerged as a real talent and Fabio Aru finally gained the overall, improving on his 3rd place at the 2015 Giro.

Best Anti-Doping Effort by a Major Organization:
Jointly awarded to the Al Jazeera and the ‘Doping’ Facebook page.

Let’s start with the Doping page on Facebook. Set up by former professional rider and all-round decent chap John Brady, this page grew from a few central folks into a bit of a phenomenon. Entry is by invite and it’s a place where anti-dopers mingle alongside very committed dopers, from Alexi Grewel to Jonathan Vaughters. Inga Thompson is on there along with a host of very enlightened people, and it’s one of my first stop places on my early morning internet round.

And the other half of this award goes to Al Jazeera for this amazing film. It’s not about cycling but it is about doping and what it does is, how easy it is to dope and get away with it, and shows how low people will go to get an edge. Truly a must-see. Shame on WADA and the cycling federations for not doing this kind of solid investigative work themselves.

Best Looking Bike of 2015:
Pro Bike: Alexander Kristoff's Roubaix Canyon Aeroad

Alexander Kristoff’s Canyon. Sex on a stick! Blimey, that is a stunner. And as an aside, just between you and me, what with me being an industry insider and all, I can tell you that Focus also make a brilliant bike in the Izalco Max. They could be and should be charging far more for it than they do but they are trying to compete with Canyon, who have a direct-to-consumer sales model (cheaper) compared to Focus’s distributor model (more costly). So, just a heads up, the Izalco is a heck of a lot of bike for the buck, possibly the best I have ever ridden.

(Focus, please mail the cheque to CrankPunk HQ, Taiwan).

Best Thing Since Sliced Bread Award:
Goes to… Oslo, Milan, Dublin, Paris, Madrid and Brussels! Why? Because all have announced plans to ban cars entirely from their city centers before 2020, some as soon as 2017.

Get on with it! May this become the norm too.

Carfree Cities: The Gritty Details:

Best Website 2015:
Well, alongside the excellent and informative www.crankpunk.com, it has to be PezCyclingNews.

I have been writing stuff that other websites would get their lawyers on to for PEZ and still they publish it. At one point I was sending stuff in thinking ‘well, that’s the end of my work with PEZ’, only to wake up the next day and to see it all there, unedited and in all its brashness, up on the site.

Where several sites have asked me to write for them but demanded too that I try not to write so much about doping, PEZ have been there all the way, brave enough and true enough to tread where others dare not.

Thank you PEZ, and thank you too, for reading my Lowdown! I wish you all all the best in 2016, and may we crank on!


Lee Rodgers is a former professional road racer on the UCI Asia Tour circuit now racing MTB professionally around the world. His day job combines freelance journalism, coaching cyclists, event organizing and consulting work. You can keep up with his daily scribblings over at www.crankpunk.com.

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