Chris Froome (Sky) has been voted as Rider of the Year by Cyclingnews readers at the end of a season that has crowned one of the most rapid transformations of fortunes in recent cycling history.
Just two and a half years ago, Froome was, by his own admission, unsure if he would even have a contract for the following season, but the Briton’s star has risen remarkably since he finished a surprising second at the 2011 Vuelta a España. Last year, he rode shotgun for Bradley Wiggins, an uneasy alliance that yielded Tour de France honours for Team Sky but left Froome a frustrated second in Paris.
Compensation was to arrive in spades in 2013, however. Installed as Sky’s Tour leader from the very outset of the season, Froome’s early-season followed a strikingly similar rhythm to that of Wiggins’ 2012 campaign, as he clocked up victories at the Tour of Oman, Critérium International, Tour de Romandie and Critérium du Dauphiné.
Indeed, victory in Oman was Froome’s first ever triumph in a stage race of that magnitude, yet by the time July rolled around, he was the overwhelming favourite for Tour de France victory.
When Froome’s Sky teammates shredded the field to pieces on the road to Ax-3 Domaines on the first mountain stage, it seemed as though his race would be a mere procession, but a Tour de France is never won easily. The following day, the Sky guard was marked absent in the face of fierce attacking from the gun, but Froome, in his first day in yellow, showed considerable poise to defend his overall lead on a trying day in the Pyrenees.
If that moment of weakness from Team Sky opened the door ever so slightly for his Froome’s rivals, it was slammed shut in emphatic fashion on Mont Ventoux. In a startling few hundred metres, a seated Froome burned Alberto Contador off his wheel and then rode clear while giving the impression that his legs could simply not turn quickly enough.
Though Nairo Quintana and Joaquim Rodriguez were to ask probing questions of Froome in the final week of racing, the Sky man was by any measure the strongest rider on show, and he duly carried the yellow jersey to the innovative evening finale on the Champs-Élysées.
Although the final segment of Froome’s season was less successful, as his bid for the rainbow jersey in Florence ended with an early abandon, the raw statistics of his campaign brook little argument – 13 victories, including three Tour stages and five stage races.
On the Champs-Élysées in July, Froome addressed the scepticism that greeted his performances in some quarters, promising that “This is one yellow jersey that will stand the test of time." Only the passing of the years can confirm if that is the case, but there is certainly no debate that Froome was the dominant figure of the 2013 season.
Sagan pips Vos for second
Froome clocked up some 25.1% of the votes cast by Cyclingnews riders to add the Rider of the Year title to the many accolades he has already amassed in 2013, although his margin of victory was not as emphatic as that of Bradley Wiggins (38%) one year ago.
For the second year running, Peter Sagan (Cannondale) claimed second place in the Cyclingnews poll, with 18.7% of the vote. The Slovak’s year was again punctuated by a steady stream of victories, including a first Classic at Gent-Wevelgem and a second consecutive green jersey at the Tour de France. Although he fell short at Milan-San Remo and the Tour of Flanders, it is sobering to recall that the Slovak is still only 23 years of age.
17.4% of the vote and third place went to another rider who is fast exhausting all superlatives. Marianne Vos is a woman for all seasons. She began the year with a cyclo-cross world title, her spring included Tour of Flanders and Flèche Wallonne victories and she marked the arrival of summer with three stage wins at the Giro Donne.
Vos saved the best for last, however, winning a second successive world road title with an imperious display on the final lap in Florence. In eight attempts, the Dutchwoman has never finished lower than second in the elite women’s road race.
Vincenzo Nibali’s Giro d’Italia victory and pugnacious Vuelta a España and Worlds displays carried him to fourth place in the poll, just ahead of WorldTour winner Joaquim Rodriguez and Fabian Cancellara, who won the Tour of Flanders, Paris-Roubaix and E3 Harelbeke during a dominant spring campaign.
2013 Rider of the Year
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