Well, what a season 2020 turned out to be. At one stage, thanks to a global pandemic, it looked like there would be little to no cycling, but in the end there was a glut of glorious racing and action. Let the Procycling magazine team take you through the craziest of years in our Review of the Year, which is out to buy now.
At the centre of a lot of the action was Wout van Aert, who seemingly mastered every race he took part in. He won Strade Bianche and Milan-San Remo, before forming an impressive part of Jumbo-Visma’s super Tour de France team, while winning two stages, of course. He didn’t stop there, finishing second in both the time trial and the road race at the World Championships, before also finishing second at the Tour of Flanders. Not bad for a palmarès in a covid-affected year.
Speaking to Edward Pickering exclusively for Procycling magazine, Van Aert addressed the issue of being labelled the best cyclist in the world. He said: “I shouldn’t answer. For me it’s not about having the label of the best cyclist in the world. That’s something for others to discuss if they think it’s interesting. For me it’s more about winning as many races as possible and achieving the goals I have for myself. It’s not something that is a goal for me to become.”
Another of the riders of 2020, Elisa Longo Borghini, spoke to Sophie Hurcom about her passion for cycling and the incredible success of her team, Trek-Segafredo. She said: “The atmosphere in the team is really good, everyone in the team is riding very well. We are very united and go very well along together, both staff and riders, which is like our secret weapon.”
In a season where she won her first Giro Rosa stage and was also instrumental in many of Trek's victories, Longo Borghini downplayed her achievements: “For me, just to win is special because I never win, I’m always there, I never win. It was very special.”
In our review of the cycling season, our Procycling magazine experts pick out their moments of the year, which includes the battle between Van Aert and Mathieu van der Poel, rider power becoming a hot topic, and the returning relevance of time trials. There are also picks by the team of the best rider, race, and team of 2020.
The Giro d’Italia and the Vuelta a España were both out of place this year, the Giro taking place in October rather than May, and the Vuelta not finishing until mid-November. Barry Ryan was in Italy to follow the Italian race which produced an unexpected winner in Tao Geoghegan Hart, and Alasdair Fotheringham took a look at a Vuelta which proved redemptive for Primož Roglič.
Of the Giro, Ryan writes: “Perhaps more than at any point since the era of Coppi and Bartali, this Giro presented itself as an emblem of the country at large and, specifically, its response to the pandemic.”
On Roglič in Spain, Fotheringham argues: “His Vuelta tactics, too, could not have been more different: the Vuelta last year was won thanks to a catenaccio-style strategy of claiming the lead in the time trial and then defending it through the mountains. In 2020 he rode each stage, as he put it, ‘as if it were a Classic’.”
Also in this month’s magazine, a look at one of the other stars of 2020: Arnaud Demaré. The Frenchman was the most prolific rider of the year. As Edward Pickering says: “Nobody has won more races this year. The Frenchman crammed his 14 wins into a two-month period between Milan-Torino and stage 11 of the Giro, which is a win every five days. Or a win per every 2.85 actual race days since the season’s restart. That he has been on a roll is undeniable. The bigger question is inevitable: has Arnaud Demaré suddenly become the best sprinter in the world?”
Sunweb were one of the most exciting things about the truncated season, with their young stars producing impressive results wherever one looked - Marc Hirschi and Søren Kragh Andersen at the Tour de France, and Jai Hindley at the Giro d’Italia. Sophie Hurcom writes: “Proving that not all teams need a leader, Sunweb benefitted from an ethos that saw their band of merry men all given equal opportunities. Their wins were spread across nine different riders, and among them some of the sport’s brightest young talents flourished and emerged.”
There is a analysis of the 2020 Women’s WorldTour by Owen Rogers, which was dominated by the same handful of riders despite the chaotic season. There is also an interview with Nicholas Dlamini, who tells Procycling about growing up in a South African township and his journey to the WorldTour. At the time of going to press, the 25-year-old was still looking for a team for next season. Dlamini told Sophie Hurcom: “I’m just keeping my fingers crossed that I do get something on a WorldTour level and get to stay on this level.”
We also say farewell to our 2020 diarists: Heidi Franz, James Knox and Roger Kluge as they look back on their season’s for the final time. Plus, you’ll find Dan Martin, Laurens ten Dam, Retro and all our regulars inside.
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