Tom Dumoulin was named Dutch men's cyclist of the year for a fifth consecutive time Monday evening, while world champion Anna van der Breggen was crowned women's cyclist of the year for the third time.
The annual wielergala - cycling gala - in Den Bosch sees awards handed out to the stand-out Dutch riders from the past season, based on a combination of votes from fellow professionals past and present, along with the general public.
Dumoulin was unable to attend after coming down with illness, instead appearing via a video message to express his thanks - and surprise. His Team Sunweb manager Iwan Spekenbrink accepted the award on his behalf.
"I find it a bit unexpected, especially considering I was up against Mathieu van der Poel and Niki Terpstra," Dumoulin said. "It was a great year for Dutch cycling, and it's nice to be chosen as the best rider."
While 23-year-old Van der Poel became the first ever Dutchman to hold the 'triple crown' of national titles, across road, cyclo-cross and mountain bike, Terpstra won the Tour of Flanders, E3-Harelbeke, and Le Samyn in a storming spring Classics campaign that also included a podium finish at Paris-Roubaix.
Dumoulin, however, despite only tasting victory twice in 2018, won the award thanks to a string of near misses in the biggest races. He was runner up at both the Giro d'Italia and Tour de France, while at the World Championships he finished second in the time trial and fourth in the road race.
"Victories say something more, but of course I am also very proud of my second places in the Giro, Tour, Worlds time trial and my fourth place in the Worlds road race," said Dumoulin.
"I get a lot of satisfaction in particular from my performance in the Giro. That's because I had a very difficult winter. I really had trouble with my new status and I put a lot of pressure on myself to equal the performance of 2017."
Van der Breggen crowned women's cyclist of the year head of van Vleuten
On the women's side, Van der Breggen (Boels Dolmans) won the award for a third time, following 2015 and 2016.
The 28-year-old was almost unstoppable when it came to one-day racing, winning Strade Bianche, the Tour of Flanders, La Flèche Wallonne, and Liège-Bastogne-Liège in the spring before becoming world champion with a dominant solo ride.
"It was a year in which I achieved a lot of success," she said. "It's great that I can ride in the rainbow jersey next year."
Van der Breggen edged out Annemiek van Vleuten for the prize, who pipped her at La Course and the Worlds time trial as well as winning the Giro Rosa and the Boels Ladies Tour.
However, the was still cause for celebration for Van Vleuten as she was knighted in the Order of Orange-Nassau, a Dutch honours system that rewards people who have made significant contributions to society. She fractured her tibial plateau during the world championship road race but fought the pain to help Van der Breggen and finished seventh.
"You are a huge fighter, someone who never gives up, someone who, after every setback, picks himself up and looks ahead," said Dutch sports minister Bruno Bruins, who handed over the award.
"In that you are an example for many, for athletes and non-athletes."
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