2012 season in review: The year a Canadian won the Giro and a Brit won the Tour

It was the year of the Queens diamond jubilee, that Facebook went public, of Euro 2012, the London Olympics, a jump from the edge of space, Hurricane Sandy, and more mass shootings in the USA. But it was also the year of Boonen dominating the spring classics, Wiggins dominating every stage race he entered, and, of course, the rise of Peter Sagan and the downfall of one Lance Armstrong.

What follows is a review of the year in cycling with stories that were making the headlines at the time and a song that was topping the charts. Then it’s the The Cycle Seen awards for the year … from the Cycle Seens cyclist of the year to the innagural Lance Armstrong award for biggest downfall of the year, it’s all here.

A MONTH BY MONTH REVIEW OF THE YEAR THAT WAS

January Simon Gerrans wins the Tour Down Under to open the UCI season. Sprinter Andre Greipel wins three of the six stages while Alejandro Valverde marks his comeback from a ban with a stage win of his own. Also: The Costa Concordia cruise ship sinks killing at least 11 as the ships Captain is arrested for abandoning ship. Novak Djokovic defeats Rafael Nadal to win the Australian Open Tennis championship; Victoria Azarenka beats Maria Sharapova in the woman’s title.
Song: “We Found Love” by Rihanna featuring Calvin Harris

February Tom Boonen wins the Tour of Qatar. Jose Serpa wins the Tour de Langkawi. Federal prosecutors in the US suspend the criminal investigation into Lance Armstrong without filing charges. Also: The Queen celebrates her Diamond Jubilee. The New York Giants defeat the New England Patriots 21-17 to win the Super Bowl. Whitney Houston dies age 48. Adele wins six Grammy awards.
Song: “Call Me Maybe” by Carly Rae Jepsen

March Bradley Wiggins opens his season account by winning the Paris-Nice. Vincenzo wins the Tirreno-Adriatico. Simon Gerrans takes the first ‘Monument’ of the year at the Milan-San Remo. Michael Albasini wins the Volta a Catalunya. Cadel Evans wins the Criterium International. Sylvain Chavanel takes the Three Days of De Panne. Tom Boonen takes control of classics winning the H3 Harelbeke and Gent-Wevelgem in the space of one weekend. Also: Wales win the Six-Nations title. Bruce Springsteen releases Wrecking Ball album.
Song: “Part of Me” by Katy Perry

April Tom Boonen wins his third straight UCI World Tour race at the Tour of Flanders. Samuel Sanchez takes the Tour of the Basque Country. Tom Boonen strikes back winning  the Paris-Roubaix. Enrico Gasparotto wins the Amstel Gold. Joaquim Rodriguez wins La Fleche Wallonne. Maxim Iglinsky wins the Liege-Bastogne-Liege. Bradley Wiggins wins the Tour de Romandie. Also: Bubba Watson wins The Masters. Neptune Collonges wins the Grand National. The 15th marks the 100th anniversary of the sinking of The Titanic.
Song: “We Are Young” by Fun featuring Janelle Monáe

May Canadian The Giro d’Italia which started in Denmark and finished, as ever, in Milan was won by Canadian, Ryder Hesjedal by just 16 seconds over Joaquim Rodriguez after trading the jersey back and forth for three weeks. Thomas De Gendt was third. In the Tour of California it’s Robert Gesink who wins overall but the story of the Tour is the rise of Peter Sagan who wins five of the eight stages including the first four in-a-row. Also: Chelsea beat Liverpool 2-1 to win the F.A. Cup final. I’ll Have Another wins the Kentucky Derby. Facebook go public. Manchester City score late to win the Premier League title ahead of city rivals, Man United. Chelsea beat Bayern Munich 4-3 on penalties after a 1-1 draw to win the Champions League.
Song: “Somebody That I Used to Know” by Gotye featuring Kimbra

June In the two big Tour de France build-up events, Bradley Wiggins wins at the Criterium du Dauphine for his third stage race win in as many starts, while Rui Costa takes the Tour of Switzerland. At the Tour of Switzerland, Peter Sagan wins another three individual stages. USADA charge Lance Armstrong and five associates with a doping conspiracy. Also: Euro 2012 gets underway in the Ukraine and Poland. Webb Simpson wins the U.S. Open. Novak Djokovic defeats Rafal Nadal to win the French Open; Maria Sarapova beats Sara Errani in the woman’s final. The L.A. Kings defeat the New Jersey Devils in six games to win the Stanley Cup. The Miami Heat defeat the Oklahoma City Thunder in five games to win the NBA title; LeBron James is finals MVP.
Song: “Payphone” by Maroon 5 featuring Wiz Khalifa

July Lance Armstrong sues USADA in federal court, claiming violation of due process rights. Bradley Wiggins becomes the first British cyclist to win the Tour de France, with another Brit, Chris Froome, in second. Vincenzo Nibali was third while Peter Sagan who won three stages picked up the Green jersey and Thomas Voeckler, winner of two stages, took the mountains classification. For pure sprinting it was Andre Greipel and Mark Cavendish who shared the spoils with three stage wins each. The Tour belonged to Britain though for on top of the one-two overall four Brittons won seven stages in all. Meanwhile, the tour for those not at Le Tour — The Tour of Poland — is won by Moreno Moser. Alexander Vinokourov wins the men’s road race at the London Olympics while Marianne Vos wins the woman’s race. Also: Spain thump Italy 4-0 to win Euro 2012. CERN discover new Higgs Boson particle. 12 people are killed and 58 injured in a mass shooting at a movie theatre in Aurora, Colorado. Roger Federer defeats Andy Murray to win Wimbledon; Serena Williams wins the woman’s title. Ernie Els wins The Open Championship of Golf. The Olympics get underway in London with a fantastic opening ceremony.
Song: “Wide Awake” by Katy Perry

August Bradley Wiggins wins Gold at the Olympic Games individual time-trial; Kristin Armstrong wins the woman’s event. Great Britain take seven of the ten Gold medals available on the track at the London Olympics. Meanwhile in London, Jaroslav Kulhavy and Julie Bresset win Gold medals in the men’s and woman’s mountain bike race respectivly. Lars Boom wins the Eneco Tour. Luis Leon Sanchez takes the Clasica San Sebastian. Arnaud Demare wins the Vattenfall Cyclassics. Edvald Boasson Hagen wins the GP Ouest-France.  Federal judge Sam Sparks dismisses Armstrong’s suit while Armstrong himself announces he won’t fight USADA’s charges. Also: Curiosity Rover lands on Mars. Rory McIlroy wins the PGA Championship. The London Olympics — branded a huge success — come to a close with Britain winning 29 Gold medals on home soil. The first man on the moon, Neil Armstrong, dies.
Song: “Whistle” by Flo Rida

September Alberto Contador wins the Vuelta a España ahead of Alejandro Valverde and Joaquim Rodriguez for an all Spanish podium. In Canada the GP de Quebec is won by Simon Gerrans and the GP de Montreal by Lars Petter Nordhaug. Philippe Gilbert wins the World Road Championships ahead of Edvald Boasson Hagen and Alejandro Valverde. Tony Martin wins the time-trial title, while Omega Pharma-Quick Step wins the team-time-trial title. Joaquim Rodriguez wins the Giro di Lombardia. Tyler Hamilton and co-author Daniel Coyle publish “The Secret Race”. Also: Europe retain the Ryder Cup 14.5-13.5 over the USA after being down 10-6 with a day to play. Andy Murray defeats Roger Federer to win the US Open; Serena Williams wins the woman’s title. The NHL lockout begins. Ryan Hunter-Reay wins the Indy Car championship. Muse release the album The 2nd Law.
Song: “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” by Taylor Swift

October USADA release their “reasoned decision” explaining why they stripped Armstrong’s seven Tour de France titles and banning him from future competitions for life; the UCI back the findings. The Tour of Beijing is won by Tony Martin. Mark Cavendish leaves Sky and joins Omega Pharma-Quick Step. Also: Felix Baumgartner jumps from the edge of space. The San Francisco Giants sweep the Detroit Tigers to win the World Series. Hurricane Sandy devastates the east coast of the USA including New York City.
Song: “Gagnam Style” by Psy

November Bradley Wiggins is knocked off his bike by a driver near his home town while out on his mountain bike. Also: Barak Obama is re-elected as President of the United States. Israel launch attack on Gaza in response to rocket attacks by Hamas into Israel. Sebastian Vettel wins his third straight Formula One World Championship. Lionel Messi scores his 82nd goal to move ahead of Gerd Müller for the most goals scored in a calendar year.
Song: “Diamonds” by Rihanna

December Katusha lose their World Tour license. Lance Armstrong is nominated for Texan of the year with a Dallas newspaper describing him as “a fighter, a survivor and a cunning, steely-eyed liar.” Bradley Wiggins and Dave Brailsford are knighted in British New Year honours list; Wiggins will become the first ‘Sir’ to race the Tour! Also: A gunman kills 28, including himself, in Newtown school shooting. Mayan long count calendar completes its cycle — the world doesn’t end!
Song: “Locked Out of Heaven” by Bruno Mars

AWARDS AND GONGS

The gong for The Cycle Seen’s most outstanding cyclist of the year
Bradley Wiggins. Hard to look past Wiggo for 2013. He won the overall in virtually every race he entered including, of course, the Tour de France when he became the first British athlete to win cyclings greatest prize. He followed it up just days later by winning the individual time-trial at the London Olympics sparking a Gold haul by British athletes. His achievements were duly recognised at the end of the year when he was named BBC Sports Personality of the Year and Knighted by the Queen in the end of year honours list. Being named The Cycle Seen‘s most outstanding cyclist of the year must surely be the icing on his cake!.

The Steve Bauer Canadian cyclist of the year award
Ryder Hesjedal. Second year in-a-row winning this prize and given that it was a year that was even better than his last, it was never really in doubt. Hesjedal became the first Canadian to win a Grand Tour when he took the Giro d’Italia in May. His ride was a brilliant one and it made a house hold name of him in Canada.

The Sean Yates British cyclist of the year award
Bradley Wiggins. See the most outstanding cyslist of the year award above for more…

The US Postal team of the year award
British Olympic track team. Ok, the title is an ironic one, but there’s no subtle message to be read between the title of the award and the winners. The British track team were one of moral fortitude, no doubt, and deserved every acolade that came their way. They absolutely dominated the Olympics and were no doubt the core of the British success at the Olympics. By the time all was said and done they had won seven of the ten available Golds on the track.

The ‘I swear it was a bad dose of meat’ award for best excuse
Frank Schleck. On July 17, 2012, Schleck tested positive for Xipamide and was removed from the Tour de France. His excuse that he was poisoned by an unknown person was laughable at best. It might have flown twenty years ago in cycling … it might still fly in some sports, but it was never going to wash in cycling circa 2012.

The innagural ‘the next Eddy Merckx‘ award (previous winner had I thought to do it last year might have included Philippe Gilbert or Edvald Boasson Hagen)
Peter Sagan. Stole the show in the first week of the Tour de France and walked the Green Jersey award. A powerful young 22-year old, he can sprint, he can get into a break, he has the makings of a monuments classics winner, he can climb when he has to, and if he dedicated himself to it, there’s a belief he could even one day win a Grand Tour. It’ll be facinating to watch him progress in 2013.

The innagural Peter Sagan award for celebration of the year award
Peter Sagan, Stage three, Tour de France: The running man.

The Graham Obree award for best time-trial of the year
Bradley Wiggins at the Olympic Games. Britain had won their first Gold just a few hours before,  but going into the day the country was still waiting to kick-start the games with a Gold and all hopes rested on the shoulders of Wiggins. He was odds on favorite and the minute you seen him roll down the ramp, you knew it would never be in doubt. He blew the field away and one of the great sights of those games for me will be seeing him charge up towards the finish with the streets lined by fans with Union Jacks cheering him on. Britain had embraced cycling.

The Jens Voigt hard man of the year award
Johan Van Summeren. He came down hard in a crash on stage six of the Tour de France as it seemed did almost all his Garmin team-mates. Van Summeren was ripped to pieces though yet got back on his bike and rode alone into the finish at Metz. He came in last that day over sixteen minutes behind stage winner Peter Sagan, and though he abandoned the next day he proved just how tough the the professional cyclist can be.

The mud, the blood, the guts and the pavé award for spring classics rider
Tom Boonen. The Belgian had a spring for the ages. Every time you watched a classics race you expected him to be in the mix such was his hot form. Aside from winning two stages and the GC at the Tour of Qatar, Boonen won at the Paris-Roubaix, the Tour of Flanders, the Gent-Wevelgem, the E3 Harelbeke, the Paris-Brussels and a stage at the Paris-Nice.

Most disappointing win award
Alexander Vinokourov at the London Olympics road race. Sorry, but he never fully admitted his past drug use yet has come back into the sport like nothing ever happened. It was a fine win on the day but even if it was clean, it was hard to watch and left me asking the same old questions. Vino collected his medal and promptly retired from the sport.

The bonehead of the year award
Spanish cyclists Alberto Contador, Alejandro Valverde, Samuel Sanchez and Miguel Indurain for all continuing to back Lance Armstrong despite overwhelming evidence to the contraray. It was Contador who said, “At certain times and places Lance is not being treated with any respect.”

The non-cyclist suit-wearing bonehead of the year award
Pat McQuaid and Hein Verbruggen. Could you really be bothered to have me going over why this duo have won the award? Suffice to say their actions played a big part for the reason the whole Armstrong affair and the doping stories from that era in general only came to a head this year when it should have been years before. And it’s likely one or both will win this award in twelve months time again unless there is a dramatic overhaul, which is highly unlikely.

Crash of the year
Roberto Ferrari on Mark Cavendish. When the Italian brought the World Champion down in the final dash for the line during a stage of the Giro d’Italia, Cavdendish took to Twitter after the race to vent his anger saying: “Ouch! Crashing at 75kph isn’t nice! Nor is seeing Roberto Ferrari’s manoeuvre. [He] should be ashamed to take out Pink, Red & World Champ jerseys.” He added: “Is the team of Roberto Ferrari or the UCI going to do the right thing? Other riders, including myself, have been sent home for much less.”

The Bradley Wiggins [2009 Tour] gong for coming from nowhere to be a contender award
Tejay van Garderen. So he wasn’t quite a ‘contender’ in that he finished 11-04 behind Bradley Wiggins at the Tour de France but he came in expected to be a super-domestique for Cadel Evans only to ride away from his leader when it became clear the Australian was not up to the task of beating Wiggins in the mountains. He finished ahead of Evans overall in fifth place and won the White jersey and marked himself out as a potential future winner of the Tour.

Book of the year
The Secret Race: Inside the Hidden World of the Tour de France: Doping, Cover-ups, and Winning at All Costs by Tyler Hamilton and Daniel Coyle. It is the most indepth, dramatic and honest protrayal of drugs in cycling ever written. A lot of it you might already have known or even suspected, but reading it really brought it home how dirty things in cycling had gotten. You won’t feel especially sorry for Hamilton but that’s becasue he’s brutally honest and it’s what makes it such a good book. I do hope it’s the last of it’s kind, at least I hope there’s no more like it from future generations. Read a full review here.

The most tedious story of the year award
Lance-gate. Yes it needed to come out and yes we should be better for it … at least future generations of cyclists should be, but there’s no doubting that it began to get a little tedius after a while and some cycling fans, media and bloggers on social media have talked of little else for months on end. Yes it’s better to have had it unfold during the cycling off-season where it didn’t take away from the actual races but I couldn’t help but wish there was a good race to watch instead every now and then. Books have been written about it and more will be written, and while the whole shambles cannot be forgotten if only so it isn’t allowed to happen again, I do hope it doesn’t become the main talking point through 2013.

The Lance Armstrong memorial award for refusing to just admit it
Johan Bruyneel. After years of denial even Lance Armstrong decided not to conest USADA’s findings against him once he realised there was little point. Whether that can be taken as a sign of his own acceptance or just his lack of interest anymore is still up for debate because his decision not to contest is still a far cry from an admission, but Bruyneel still maintains his absolute innocence and because of it the case against him will likely surface sometime in the new year. The evidence against him is overwhelming so seeing whether he has a joker card up his sleeve or is simply deluded will be interesting to watch.

The Lance Armstrong tribute award for the biggest fall from grace
Lance Armstrong. Not a lot needs added here.

The ‘This guy is the new generation and has to be a clean cyclist’ award (A prestigeous award with such past winners (if I’d been doing this in the past) as Richard Virenque, Jan Ullrich, Ivan Basso, Alberto Contador and Riccardo Ricco)
Peter Sagan. How much I hope this guy ends up being out of place with the ‘past winners’ on this list when hindsight looks back on it ad that he truly is the ‘new generation’. Looking at him right now he’s the best young talent in cycling, he’s spoke out against doping in the past and he’s brilliant to watch. It’ll be facinating to see where he goes.

The Cedric Vasseur memorial award for best loan attack of the year
Thomas Voeckler. For his ride on stage 16 of the Tour de France over four major mountains — including the Hors cateogories Col d’Aubisque and Col du Tourmalet — to a solo victory into Bagnères-de-Luchon. He went away in a large group after just 25 kilometers before eventually riding off on his own. He crossed all four big climbs in first though it wasn’t quite a monumental solo ride in that he only shook his final rival — Brice Feillu — with two climbs to go, but he hung on to win the stage by 1-40 over Chris Anker Sorensen. The stage win set him up to eventually win the King of the Mountains jersey.

The Mario Cippolini award for best sprinter — and he knows it, award
Mark Cavendish, again. Of course.

The Djamalodine Abdoujaparov award for dangerous sprint of the year
Roberto Ferrari. The one on Mark Cavendish … see crash of the year above!

The mountain goat climber of the year award
Joaquim Rodriguez. He was second in the Giro and third in the Vuelta and was right in the mix to win both races. He won two stages at the Giro and three at the Vuelta in the mountains and was always willing to put in an attack to keep the races on a knife edge to seal this award.

The holywood script writters story of the year award
Lance-gate. Books have been written, books are probably being written and certainly more books will be written. Someone will make one of them into a movie, surely. The only question is who will play Armstrong?

The Cycle Seen’s best result of the year
Ryder Hesjedal winning the Giro. As a British citizen living in Canada I was torn on whether to go with Wiggins or Hesjedal on this one and their respective Grand Tour wins. Wiggins’s win was monumental because it was the Tour de France and it’s the race I have watched annually for two decades and at one time seeing a Brit win a stage was a big deal nevermind even competing for a Grand Tour. But Hesjedal takes it because of how close it was … because of the drama, the edge of the seat action, the back and forth for the GC and how it all came down to the final day time-trial for a Canadian to win it all. Hesjedal was brilliant to watch and it was the first time I watched a Grand Tour win in so long that I just knew was being ridden clean.

The Cycle Seen’s moment of the year
The final time-trial at the Giro d’Italia. As mentioned briefly above: Hesjedal came into that final stage in Milan 31 seconds behind Joaquim Rodriguez having traded the Pink jersey with him back and forth for three weeks. Hesjedal was a big favorite to overcome the time gap, but we all know what riding in a leaders jersey can do for a rider and it was far from a given that Rodriguez would lose it. And so it proved to be at the time checks … Hesjedal was pulling back time, but it was going to be very close. When Hesjedal finished it looked good and when Rodriguez crossed the line minutes later it only then became official. Hesjedal had done enough … by just 16 seconds overall.

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