The rider of the year 2012 will be Alberto Contador, according to an informal poll in the Cyclingnews forum. Assuming, of course, that he is not suspended on doping charges. If so, then Peter Sagan, Philippe Gilbert and Fabian Cancellara all have good chances to dominate the scene in the coming year.
Contador won by a narrow lead. As Hugo Koblet said, “Won many hearts in the 2011 edition of Tour de France with his aggressive riding, especially in the Alpe d'Huez stage where he staked everything on one throw, but in the end failed. In 2012 he won't fail. He will be back, stronger than ever, and do the Tour-Vuelta double.”
Three riders tied for second place behind Contador. Some users found Gilbert a sure number to repeat his outstanding 2011 performance. Panda Claws pointed out, “Philippe Gilbert repeats 'nuff said. We all remember Paris-Tours 2008, '09, The Amstel Gold Race 2010, '11 and Giro di Lombardia 2009, '10. Is there really anything stopping him from repeating 2011 too?”
Cancellara will be the “comeback kid”, according to other users. Afrank said, “I think Fabian Cancellara will have a good year, he came into the 2011 season with a new team and after winning flanders and roubaix in 2010 he had a lot of expectation going into the new season. I think he will be able to prepare better and be under less pressure at the new radioshack-nissan team. Plus he will have Johan Bruyneel to coach him. He had a rough 2011 season just missing out on the win in both flanders, roubaix, and milan san remo. I think he will be going into the 2012 season in much better form and will come out of it strong.”
Sagan is probably the most surprising of the nominees to be tied for second place. “He has been bubbling over for a few years now. This is the year where the next step is the classics. I see him being a major player in the Ardennes, Milan-San Remo, perhaps even Flanders before moving onto the Tour where he can take a stage and then the Worlds.,”' said Nick C.
Other riders getting mentions – surprisingly few, actually – include world champion Mark Cavendish and Tour de France winner Cadel Evans. Other names mentioned include world champion Tony Martin, Denis Menchov, and Andy Schleck.
And since the question was open-ended, Libertine Seguros provided what may actually be the most accurate prediction: Marianne Vos.
Of course, if you read all the answers, you may be surprised at how many riders are sure picks to win everything from Milan-San Remo to the Tour de France to the Olympics to the Worlds – and probably all of those, if not everything in between as well.
An example, and proof that no one takes things all too seriously, from Tank Engine: “EBH. His season will just get better and better as it goes on. He'll scorch them all in the sprint at MSR when Cav can't follow on the Poggio, follow up with a win in GW, podium on a couple of occasions in the Ardennes. He'll win three stages in the tour when he's given days off from leading Cav out and go on to win the Vuelta.
p.s. In October he'll bring world peace.”
You can join in the forum fun here.