Now that the 2013 season is over, it's time to look back and decide which were the best one-day and stage races of the year. Cyclingnews has nominated 10 races in each category as part of the 2013 Reader Poll for you to choose from.
Regarding one-day events, Italy's Strade Bianche is a relative newcomer on the scene, but its signature white gravel roads, Tuscan scenery and finish in Siena's famed Piazza il Campo provide quite a backdrop for racing. This year Cannondale's young guns of Moreno Moser and Peter Sagan stole the show to finish 1-2 on the day.
The first Monument of the season, Milan-San Remo, marks the longest day in the saddle of the year for the pro peloton and while of late it's typically favoured the sprinters one never knows what can happen in the finale. After severe wintry weather forced the peloton onto buses to bypass the Turchino and La Manie climbs, the race resumed and grew to a gripping finale with Gerald Ciolek taking a breakthrough win for both himself and his African Pro Continental squad MTN-Qhubeka.
The peloton raced aggressively throughout the Belgian semi-Classic Dwars door Vlaanderen with Thomas Voeckler nearly stealing the show with typical panache. A determined chase group, however, hunted the Frenchman down in the closing metres with Oscar Gatto, seemingly impervious to cold, prevailing in the sprint finale.
The Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix mark the pinnacle of the cobbled spring Classics, but which to choose as a favourite? A powerhouse Fabian Cancellara won them both in a rare double, soloing away on the Paterberg to win the Tour of Flanders for a second time and then prevailing in a thrilling two-up sprint finale a week later in the Roubaix Velodrome versus Sep Vanmarcke.
To close out the spring Classic season, who can forget the Liège-Bastogne-Liège finale replete with Daniel Martin prevailing ahead of Joaquim Rodriguez and a pursuing panda?
As the pro peloton built up to the world championships in Italy, the Canadian WorldTour race Grand Prix Cycliste de Montréal provided a thrilling endgame from a who's who of Grand Tour contenders as well as Classics specialists. Atoning for a loss two days prior in Quebec, Peter Sagan opted not to sprint for victory but instead time trialed away from a select group in a stunning display of power and determination.
Both the elite women's and elite men's road race world championships in Florence provided plenty of drama. Marianne Vos held her powder dry until late in the final lap when she rode away from a select group to win the second road title of her career. On a taxing finishing circuit made treacherous by rain, the men's road race was whittled down to a two-man drag race between Spain's Joaquim Rodriguez and Portugal's Rui Costa. Costa made history as the first Portuguese rider to win the elite men's road race and the post-race polemic was dominated by questions involving the actions (or inactions) of Costa's trade teammate but Rodriguez's national teammate Alejandro Valverde in the closing kilometres.
While Rodriguez lamented his lost world championship, he finished his season on a high note with a repeat performance at the season's fifth and final Monument: Il Lombardia. Featuring arguably one of the season's most stunningly beautiful courses, the Italian race never fails to deliver a worthy champion.
Regarding 2013's stage races, each of the three Grand Tours provided copious drama, storylines and excitement. Vincenzo Nibali showed his class and character as he won the first Giro d'Italia of his career on an exceptionally hilly route that was also afflicted with more than its fair share of wintry weather. Mark Cavendish won five stages and snatched the points classification away from Nibali on the final stage while Colombian riders came to the fore with Rigoberto Uran winning a stage and finishing second overall plus Carlos Betancur placing fifth and earning the young rider classification in a tight contest against Poland's Rafal Majka.
Chris Froome dominated the mountains and the time trials of the Tour de France to become the second straight Briton to don the maillot jaune into Paris while runner-up Nairo Quintana confirmed his remarkable talent with a stage win, the mountains classification jersey plus the best young rider jersey. Marcel Kittel won four stages, including the opener on a day where the Orica-GreenEdge bus likely got more press as well as the finale in Paris where the German fastman ended Mark Cavendish's four year reign.
The Vuelta a Espana featured a riveting rivalry between Nibali and 41-year-old Chris Horner with the American becoming the oldest Grand Tour winner in history. What a showdown there was on the penultimate stage finale on the Angliru ascent.
The younger generation of stage racing talent were on display at Paris-Nice as Andrew Talansky (Garmin-Sharp) won the third stage and took over the leader's jersey but would ultimately succumb to the climbing and time trialing talent of Richie Porte who took back yellow with a win two days later and sealed victory with a second stage victory on the famed uphill Col d'Eze time trial course.
Vincenzo Nibali proved he was on form in advance of the Giro as he won Tirreno-Adriatico for the second straight year. It looked like the race was Chris Froome's to lose as Nibali lost time to his Sky rival on the first two mountain stages, but everything turned on its head on the penultimate and decisive sixth stage. During driving rain, the amazing Peter Sagan won from a three-man break (with Nibali and Rodriguez) on a day featuring a triple ascent of a 27% gradient, while Froome cracked and lost the lead. Froome took some time back on Nibali on the closing time trial, but Nibali held strong to clinch overall victory.
Daniel Martin achieved a milestone victory as he claimed the queen stage en route to overall victory at his "home" stage race at the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya, holding off Joaquim Rodriguez by 17 seconds. 23-year-old Nairo Quintana won the stage 3 summit finish for his first win of the season.
Quintana took the biggest win of his career two weeks later as he won one stage and the overall of the Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco (Tour of the Basque Country). Quintana actually never wore the leader's jersey until the conclusion of the final stage time trial. Sergio Henao led both Quintana and Richie Porte by six seconds while Alberto Contador and Simon Spilak trailed by 10 seconds heading into the taxing race against the clock replete with pouring rain, climbs and narrow, twisting roads. Tony Martin won the stage, but Quintana's second place finish earned him the final leader's jersey by 23 seconds over Porte.
Mara Abbott punctuated her return to cycling in 2013 with a second career victory in the Giro d'Italia Internazionale Femminile, the premier stage race for the women's peloton. Abbott, the 2011 winner as well, used her climbing talent to win two stages en route to 1:33 victory over Tatiana Guderzo. While the women's peloton's marquee talent of Marianne Vos won three stages and held the leader's jersey, she couldn't match Abbott in the mountains and ultimately placed 6th at 4:08 down.
The two remaining stage races in contention for best of the year are the flagship events in the United States: the Amgen Tour of California and Colorado's USA Pro Challenge. Tejay van Garderen endured the scorching heat of the Palm Springs desert, brutal crosswinds into Avila Beach and stamped his supremacy on the Tour of California with a victory in the San Jose time trial to win the first stage race of his professional career.
Peter Sagan turned on the speed to win four of seven stages at the USA Pro Challenge, but van Garderen once again used his climbing and time trialing savvy to secure another overall victory on home soil. After finishing a close second to season revelation Janier Acevedo on stage 4 into Beaver Creek to take the leader's jersey, van Garderen scorched the uphill Vail time trial course the following day to seal the win.
So which were the best? Only you can decide. Vote today and be entered to win Dan Martin's Garmin-Sharp Cervelo.
Strade Bianche (won by Moreno Moser)
Milan-San Remo (won by Gerald Ciolek)
Dwars door Vlaanderen (won by Oscar Gatto)
Tour of Flanders (won by Fabian Cancellara)
Paris-Roubaix (won by Fabian Cancellara)
Liège-Bastogne-Liège (won by Daniel Martin)
Grand Prix Cycliste de Montréal (won by Peter Sagan)
Road Race World Championship-Elite women (won by Marianne Vos)
Road Race World Championship-Elite men (won by Rui Costa)
Il Lombardia (won by Joaquim Rodriguez)
Paris-Nice (won by Richie Porte)
Tirreno-Adriatico (won by Vincenzo Nibali)
Volta Ciclista a Catalunya (won by Daniel Martin)
Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco (won by Nairo Quintana)
Giro d'Italia (won by Vincenzo Nibali)
Amgen Tour of California (won by Tejay van Garderen)
Giro d'Italia Internazionale Femminile (won by Mara Abbott)
Tour de France (won by Chris Froome)
USA Pro Challenge (won by Tejay van Garderen)
Vuelta a España (won by Chris Horner)
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