PEZ Top Riders of the Year 2022!
Ed Hood’s Riders of 2022: It has been a great year for pro racing with the big names of 2021 becoming even bigger in 2022. Ed Hood looks back at last season and picks his ‘Riders of the Year’.
Yes, we know, it’s been done to death but nonetheless here – in no order of merit, with no apologies for any omissions, these are MY choices – we bring you, ‘Riders of the Year.’
Let’s start on the track and the shortest of all world championship disciplines, the 200 metre sprint. The Netherlands, Harrie Lavreysen took his fourth straight title at the ripe old age of 25 years, made more impressive by the fact that this is his 11th world title.
This year also saw him take the keirin, his third straight win in the discipline; but he failed to improve on his four team sprint golds as the usually all powerful men in orange succumbed to a resurgent Aussie team in the final. Dominance at the track worlds is a cyclical phenomenon with nations taking turns atop the podiums – Germany, France, GB and Australia have all had their time and now it’s the Netherlands with Jeffrey Hoogland winning the Kilometre Championship and Yoeri Havik the Points Race.
Annemiek van Vleuten
Sticking with Europe’s lowest country, I must mention their top female rider – I say, ‘female’ because I’m advised that ‘ladies’ and ‘girls’ are now, ‘non PC.’ Annemiek van Vleuten at 40 years-of-age Movistar added another world road race title to the one Martin and I saw her win in 2019 at Harrogate as well as the Setmana Valenciana, Het Niewuwsblad, Liege-Bastogne-Liege, Giro Donne, Tour de France Femmes and Vuelta Challenge. Wow!
And as a Scot I can’t forget to mention the 2022 World Points Race Champion, Ms. Neah Evans – chapeau!
Pippo Ganna’s 56.792 kilometre hour record was stunning, for sure; but I felt that Dan Bigham didn’t get the plaudits he deserved for his 55.548K ride when he broke Victor Campenaerts record. Remember that the Belgian had broken a record which belonged to the likes of Rohan Dennis, Alex Dowsett and Bradley Wiggins. Dan was also a key figure in Ganna’s record bid and reminded us of his quality when he pulled on that Worlds team pursuit rainbow jersey later in the year – definitely my ‘Pistard’ of the year.
Dan Bigham, Ed’s trackman of the year
If Dan Bigham was trackman of the year for me, then Remco Evenepoel is roadman of the year. Quick-Step’s Belgian pocket power house silenced the doubters with a Classic: San Sebastian, a Monument: Liège-Bastogne-Liège, a Grand Tour: The Vuelta – and the Worlds. In addition he won the Tour of the Algarve, The Tour of Norway, Gullegem Koerse, Belgian Time Trial Championship and took bronze in the Worlds iTT. His next big test is the 2023 Giro – it should be interesting with Geraint Thomas, Primoz Roglič and Thibaut Pinot all having thrown their hats into the pink ring.
But despite the beauty of Remco’s season, laid back Slovenian, Tadej Pogačar runs him close: the UAE Tour; Strade Bianche; Tirreno; the Tour of Slovenia; three stage wins, time in yellow and second on GC in the Tour; Montreal; Tre Valli Varesine and Lombardia. He races, ‘old school,’ smiles a lot and is mostly philosophical in defeat – a class act.
Then there’s Wout van Aert, the Jumbo Visma Belgian started his rampage at Het Nieuwsblad, took a stage and the points maillot in Paris-Nice; won E3; was on the podium in Paris Roubaix and Liège-Bastogne-Liège; took two stages and points maillot in the Dauphine; wore yellow for the first week, won three stages and finished in green in le Tour; won the Bretagne Classic and was on the podium in Montreal. And I write this after having just watched him give another display of cyclo-cross excellence to win at Zolder. Another remarkable rider in what is a great era for Belgian cycling.
Giro pink for Van der Poel
Wout’s Dutch, almost lifelong rival, Mathieu Van Der Poel [Alpecin-Deceuninck] was also on fire – a Primavera podium; Dwars door and de Ronde; a stage and spell in pink in the Giro; a perhaps disappointing Tour before a stellar late season – Geraardsbergen, Izegem and Wallonie before that sad Worlds debacle. And, just like WVA he’s churning the mud and sand; the two of them are at a level above the rest – the ‘cross Worlds should be a great gun fight.
Alpe d’Huez glory for Pidcock
Yorkshire’s Mighty Atom,’ Tom Pidcock perhaps didn’t have the season he would have liked due the standards this young man sets for himself but his Alpe d’Huez stage win would be the hi-lite of just about any rider’s career, never mind one of just 23 years-of-age. INEOS are taking no chances at one of the ‘Sugar Daddy’ squadras nicking their boy and have him on the books until 2027.
Mohorič was stunning in Milano-Sanremo
My personal favourite one-day race is the ‘Primavera,’ Milan-Sanremo, the ‘Classicissima’ or ‘Classic of all Classics. Over the years I’ve watched some daredevil drops of the Poggio – Merckx and Kelly spring to mind but none more impressive than the one Bahrain’s 28 years-old Slovenian, Matej Mohorič delivered in March. Crazy, beautiful, stunning.
Van Baarle in the Roubaix dust
Dylan Van Baarle confirmed his great abilities over the cobbles with second in Flanders and the win in Roubaix. The Dutchman however, leaves the freshly ‘Classic combative’ INEOS for pastures new at the already very strong Jumbo Visma team.
Girmay top in Wevelgem
Biniam Girmay reminded us of the cycling talent that must lay dormant in Africa, the continent consistently produces middle and long distance runners of great quality. Those powerful hearts, lungs and slim physiques would translate beautifully to cycling as demonstrated by the Eritrean Giro stage and Gent-Wevelgem winner. Chapeau! to Intermarché Wanty for spotting then polishing this diamond in the rough.
Mark Stewart moving up
And congratulations to my three young Scottish compatriots, Mark Stewart who won the UCi stage races, the New Zealand Cycle Classic and Turul Romanei this year and moves up to Pro Team level with his Bolton Equities Black Spoke Pro Cycling team.
Sean Flynn to DSM in 2023
Sean Flynn has been consistent all year from a stage win in the Istrian Spring Trophy in March to fourth in the u23 Paris-Tours in October; this hasn’t gone unnoticed by WorldTour team DSM who have signed him on a two year deal.
Onley just beaten by Tour winner Vingegaard in the CRO race
And Oscar Onley’s move up from the Dutch team’s development squad to the DSM World Tour team was hardly a surprise after his hill top jousts with Tour de France winner, Jonas Vingegaard in the CRO race.
Win for Calum Johnston
And not forgetting Calum Johnston, the Scot enters his second season with Spanish Pro Team, Caja Rural – Seguros RGA having ridden and finished some of the highest quality races on the calendar this year.
Not long to the TDU
There are just three weeks until the Tour Down Under starts, Euro racing starts with the GP Valencia in around four weeks.
Can’t wait. . .