TOUR’16: Who’s The Coolest?
TOUR’16 Build Up: Ed Hood asks the big question of the summer, no not who will win, but who’s The Coolest rider in the peloton. To illustrate his thoughts, our PEZ Grand Tour expert reflects on his 2015 Tour de France and those cooler than cool riders. As Ed would say ‘never sacrifice style for speed…’
The Tour is rapidly approaching; it’s time we discussed the most important issue surrounding the race.
Can Froome make it three?
No, not that.
Will we see Frenchmen back on the podium?
No, not that.
The most important question is; ‘who’ll be the coolest?’
‘Cool’ is hard to define; the way a man carries himself, looks, attitude, aura all come into it. A rider just is – or isn’t. Here we take a look back at last year’s Tour and in alphabetical order look at our choice of the coolest dudes in the 2015 race in our book.
Sylvain Chavanel: He may well be nearing ‘sell by’ but the man is still cool; one of the first to sport a mega tattoo, that winning smile, Gallic charm and ‘never say die’ attitude to bike racing more than qualify him. And don’t forget that this is a man who’s worn the leader’s jersey in le Tour, la Vuelta, been an Elite French champion in road and time trial disciplines, and won Dwars door Vlaanderen and Brabantse Pijl.
This is his 17th professional season – ‘respect’ we say.
Pierrick Fedrigo: Another Frenchman who we’ve seen the best of – this is his 16th full pro season – but he’s still winning, he took the GP Cholet-Pays last year and was just off the podium in Dunkerque this year. In his prime – when he was winning Tour stages – if he was in the breakaway then that was the one to go with – past his best or not, he still has the aura.
Bob Jungels: We first spotted this young man way back in 2010. Since then his progress has been seamless – right up to wearing the pink jersey in the Giro, this year. Big, strong, immaculate – we just had to include him because of that head of hair and the attention he pays to it.
Roman Kreuziger: The tall, slim Czech former world junior champion who sits so beautifully upon a bicycle promised much early in his career, winning the Tour de Suisse and Tour of Romandie but couldn’t deliver on the Grand Tour podium that a team like Astana demands. But since then he’s found his niche as a ‘super domestique’ to Contador at Tinkoff; and that old brilliance still shines through now and again – witness his Amstel Gold win in 2013.
We could watch him climb, all day.
Vincenzo Nibali: He’s no Gimondi but when you see him at his best on a climb or one of his spectacular downhill runs then there’s little doubt that he has ‘it.’ He suits the Italian ‘azure’ jersey much better than his Astana Italian Champion’s jersey but he still looks the business.
The fact that – just like Gimondi – he’s won all three Grand Tours is incidental.
Daniel Oss: Is another man we cottoned on to early at PEZ He’s not so fresh faced now but the hair is still big and the ‘tats’ have certainly crept a tad.
Big, strong, we like the look, the smile and his grinta – he seemed to be ‘up the road’ just about every day in this year’s Giro.
Thibaut Pinot: Tall, handsome, smiling and prone to tantrums if things don’t go his way; SO French, we love it – and how do they get that F des J kit so white? His time trials have improved out of all recognition this year – let’s hope it’s not at the expense of his climbing? Irrespective, he’s won on L’Alpe – he’s now part of the legend and will never have to buy another drink in France for the rest of his life.
We’d love to see him back on the podium.
Filippo Pozzato: It’s easy to brand the man a poseur but that’s forgetting he’s won a couple of the toughest races on the planet – in Het Volk and the Primavera; he’s also been ‘right there’ in Flanders, Roubaix and the Worlds.
Palmarès apart he oozes class, charisma, good humor and his position on the bike is without peer – maybe the coolest of them all at the moment?
Peter Sagan: We love him; and this year with his brilliant wins in Gent-Wevelgem and Flanders he’s removed any doubt about whether he’s a ‘Great’ or not. We like the bike handling, the hair, the hang dog air, the bad English and his sheer ‘normalness.’
Our fave recent quote is the one in California where the journo is trying to establish that the Slovak must be under immense pressure as race stage win record holder and rainbow jersey to perform. To which Sagan replies that he’s going surfing the next day.
Samuel Sanchez: In our eyes he’ll be forever in the orange of Euskaltel – that was more than team. It’s hard to get used to him in red and black and we have our doubts about those gold ‘Olympic’ bands on the jersey.
But we forgive him, the pro’s pro, always doing the job for the team, descending like a demented hawk but always the smile and time for the fans – he’s cool.
Michele Scarponi: Yeah, we know, he’s not squeaky clean – but that was ‘the way it was’ in that era. No one works harder than this man; until he can give no more – he rides in empty, head slumped between his shoulders.
But next day he’ll be smiling, chatting to the fans – those eyes have seen it all in this game.
Jose Serpa: One of the first to sport – and just about get away with – facial hair, the Colombian has been around: Pan Am road race, time trial and team pursuit champion; Tour of Venezuela winner; Tour of Langkawi winner and a surprise winner of the much sought after Trofeo Laigueglia two seasons ago.
Always up for a chat and a laugh with the lads, we like the man, he has charisma.
What’s that? ‘Why didn’t we include Chris Froome?’ It would take too long to explain. . .
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 1,100 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.