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Insiders look back at the past season
What are the memories that will remain from the 2009 season? The best, the most memorable, the most surprising, the most disappointing? And who showed promised for the coming year?
Cyclingnews asked various industry insiders how they saw things this past year, and here is what they had to say.
Best performance: Emma Pooley soloing to the win in the Montreal World Cup after breaking away from the first kilometre. It's not as if the peloton didn't know her modus operandi - she has a history of solo breakaways. This one was extraordinary - who stays away from kilometre zero in a World Cup?
Best Team: Team Columbia-HTC men and women. Who can argue that a team that wins so many races doesn't deserve this title?
Biggest disappointment: Davide Rebellin getting popped for CERA, especially coming right after his win in La Fleche Wallonne.
Rider to watch in 2010: Serge Pauwels. After his ride in the Giro d'Italia, and being relieved of domestique duties for Carlos Sastre after switching from Cervelo to Sky, Pauwels will have an opportunity to shine in 2010. Borut Bozic will also be a big factor in the sprints.
Most memorable race: World Championships, without a doubt the most exciting finish to a race this year. Or maybe it's just because I watched it on a herky-jerky streaming video from the Las Vegas airport.
Biggest surprise: Contador beating Wiggins in the Paris-Nice prologue. He'd shown his prowess over longer time trials, but his beating the Olympic pursuit champion over such a short distance was a shock.
Best performance: Alberto Contador at the Tour de France.
Best Team: Team Columbia.
Biggest disappointment: I couldn't come up with one.
Rider to watch in 2010: Andy Schleck.
Most memorable race: Contador's climb on Verbier.
Biggest surprise: Cadel Evans winning Worlds.
Best team: Columbia-HTC - Such a strong team on so many fronts (albeit without a Grand Tour win). They seemed to feed off every win, and their enthusiasm never waned. Watching them genuinely savour their victories and thank their teammates was terrific to watch.
Biggest disappointment: Cadel Evans' Tour de France - Following up two second places was never going to be easy in a Tour that had a better field than in 2008, but Evans appeared to be in best form at the start. His forthcoming 3rd in the Vuelta a Espana and World title win will hopefully show his Tour result was an anomaly.
Rider to watch in 2010: Robbie McEwen - After a season dogged by injury and a long rehabilitation, it will be great to see how a refreshed and very hungry McEwen tackles 2010. His match-ups with the young brigade led by Mark Cavendish and Tyler Farrar should be epic. McEwen has not said his last word. A huge win will be a great story to write.
Most memorable race: Tour de France - the build-up to the Tour was great with a number of contenders, foremost being the clash between now former teammates Lance Armstrong and Alberto Contador. With both on the podium on Paris and then publicly confirming what many thought - that their divide is for real - the 2010 Tour should a doozy.
Biggest surprise: Bradley Wiggins - Those who know Wiggins have said his Tour performance was not a surprise, but to the outside world his effort was. And a great one to watch! It is always great to see a track rider convert to the road and be so good. His best (I hope) is yet to come. His result should also add to the weight of evidence against the current trend to eliminate events like the individual pursuit is wrong. It is the individual pursuit that has helped nurture such great riders ... pfft!
Best performance: Cadel Evans winning the World Championships in Switzerland.
Best team: I don’t know, I thought Rabobank did all right to help Denis Menchov win the Giro. That was a pretty strong ride from a bunch of guys that weren’t really up to controlling a Grand Tour.
Biggest disappointment: (No response.)
Rider to watch for 2010: I’d have to say Edvald Boasson Hagen, my new teammate at Sky. I just met him last week and I’ve raced with him before. He’s only been a professional for two years but from the things I’ve seen and the stories I’ve heard, he doesn’t know how good he is.
Most memorable race from 2009: For the most memorable race I would have to say World Championships again.
Best performance: Cadel Evans winning the Worlds. The best answer to those who say he never attacks will be racing in the rainbow bands for a year.
Best team: Columbia. Whether it was their men or women, they hoovered up the victories like no team has since Mapei in their pomp.
Biggest disappointment: Mark Cavendish missing out on the green jersey at the Tour after winning six stages. Maybe Christian Prudhomme and his team should look at the points system again.
Rider to watch in 2010: Peter Velits. The Slovak should benefit from Columbia's ability to get the best out of underperforming riders.
Most memorable race: Paris-Nice. Contador came, saw and, for once, did not conquer. Don't expect him to make the same mistake again.
Biggest surprise: Bradley Wiggins's sensational ride at the Tour. I don't think anyone outside the Garmin camp saw that one coming.
Stay tuned for more highlights from the press and peloton!