In 2013 the sport of cycling has said good-bye to a number of popular riders, some were lucky enough to retire, others unfortunately left us for good. In our minds, they're all legends of cycling, but only one rider can win. Be sure to vote for your favorite rider in our 2013 Reader Poll, and you will be entered to win our Grand Prize: Dan Martin's actual Garmin-Sharp Cervelo R5.
Sandy Casar (retired):
Sandy Casar rode for the Française des Jeux team for the entirety of his 13-year professional career, and during that time he amassed three stage wins in the Tour de France (1 each in 2007, 2009 - awarded later after Mikel Astarloza's disqualification for doping - and 2010) and a second overall and best young rider jersey in Paris-Nice (2002).
Like many of the French riders, Casar rode as an opportunist, never afraid to go into a long breakaway, and with a punchy sprint he could often challenge for the stage victories. His most memorable moment came in the 2007 Tour de France when he won the 18th stage from a breakaway after being involved in a mid-stage crash due to a dog in the road. Despite his ripped shorts and bloodied buttocks, Casar still found enough to out-sprint his breakaway companion Axel Merckx.
In the 2010 Tour de France, he entered into a 10-man breakaway on stage 9 that stayed clear over the Alpine climbs of the Col de la Colombière, Col de Aravis, Col des Saisies and the Col de la Madeleine. Casar, ever calculating and patient, out-sprinted Luis León Sánchez and Damiano Cunego to win the stage as the general classification contenders Andy Schleck and Alberto Contador hurtled to the finish line just behind.
Nicole Cooke, MBE (retired):
Although Nicole Cooke took a relatively early exit from cycling at the age of 29, she accomplished more in her 14-year career than most riders do in twice that time. Her first British elite championship came at the age of 16, her first world title came the following year in the junior ranks in 2000. At 18, she added to her tally with world titles in the road race, time trial and in mountain biking, in addition to British titles in mountain bike, road and cyclo-cross. In 2002, she turned her focus to the road for her first elite year, and won the Commonwealth Games road race.
Cooke won the World Cup series in 2003, including victories in La Flèche Wallonne Féminine, Amstel Gold and the GP Plouay. In her build-up to the 2004 Olympic Games, she became the youngest winner of the Giro Donne. She won another World Cup in 2006, was the number 1 ranked rider in 2007, but an elite world title still eluded her until her magical 2008 season.
In Beijing, in the pouring rain, Cooke became the Olympic road race champion through a perfectly timed acceleration in the final sprint. She followed her gold medal up with a similarly perfect finish in the UCI road world championship in Varese to win her only elite rainbow jersey.
Amy Dombroski (deceased):
The tight-knit cyclo-cross scene was hit hard by the death of American rider Amy Dombroski in October. The 26-year-old was living her dream in Belgium, preparing for her second season with the Telenet-Fidea team in the heart of 'cross when she was hit by a truck while out motorpace training.
While her career was short, and victories in Europe difficult to come by, Dombroski amassed a solid sheet of palmares in the USA before heading to Belgium in 2011: she won three U23 cyclo-cross titles in addition to espoir championships in mountain bike and road, and won UCI races in Providence and Boulder.
Her family has set up a foundation in her name which will benefit young riders.
Marco Pinotti (retired):
Cycling's "professor", Pinotti is a six-time Italian time trial champion who managed to find his niche in a sport which was rife with doping. A clear-headed proponent of clean sport, Pinotti said earlier this year, "It was a pleasure to be seen by the public as being clean," Pinotti said. "I was pleased to be presented as having certain values. It was never something that annoyed me. For the fans, it's important to have people they can believe in."
Pinotti's career began in 1999 with the Lampre team, but it was only after he left Italian teams that he began to excel. In 2007 he led the Giro d'Italia for four stages with the T-Mobile team, in 2008 he won the race's final time trial, and had another day in the maglia rosa in 2011 after HTC-Highroad won the team time trial in the opening stage. He won another time trial stage in the Giro in 2012.
Burry Stander (deceased);
An immensely popular South African mountain bike racer, Burry Stander was tragically killed when a taxi driver hit him while he was out training on the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast in January. He was 25.
Stander showed his promise in the cross-country mountain bike events early, and was a three-time U19 South African champion. He was selected to represent South Africa at the Olympics in Beijing in 2008 at the age of 19, and placed 15th in the cross country race. The next year he went on to win the U23 world championship title.
Stander was working his way up in the elite ranks of mountain biking before his death: he placed fifth in the 2012 Olympic Games in London, and won the Windham World Cup that year. With partner Christoph Sauser, he won the Cape Epic stage race two years in a row in 2011 and 2012.
Ina-Yoko Teutenberg (retired)
With a career spanning three decades, German sprinter Ina-Yoko Teutenberg amassed over 200 victories, but she wasn't ready to be finished just yet. However, in early 2013, a devastating crash in the Drentse 8 van Dwingeloo left her with a head injury from which she has struggled to recover. Teutenberg announced her retirement in October.
Although best known for her sprinting, Teutenberg was also well versed in the Classics and in time trialing - she won the Ronde van Vlaanderen in 2009 - and was part of the inaugural women's team time trial world championship team with Specialized-lululemon in 2012.
Teutenberg made her home in the USA and became a fixture in the American racing circuit. She won the Liberty Classic in Philadelphia five times, including a 2007 sweep of the triple crown in Lancaster, Reading and Philadelphia.
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