Monday Musette – End of Season Awards (You Haven’t Heard of Yet)

It’s the end of the year, a time for reflection, renewal, relaxation, and—awards. To me, most of the serious ones have already been awarded to deserving recipients. But here are a few that might have been missed:
The “This Contract’s Not Worth the Paper Upon Which It’s Written” Award
Maybe we need to blame EU labor laws for this, but it’s hard to not give this one to Bradley Wiggins. Here’s hoping he’s able to make good on the potential Sky sees in him. If he doesn’t, it could prove to be one of the costliest blunders in the history of transfers.
The “A Promise is a Promise—Until It Isn’t” Award
Specialized shocked everyone this fall, first by signing Alberto Contador to an individual deal then by leaving Quick Step to supply bikes for the entire Astana team. Was a contract broken? No, the agreement between SBC and Quick Step was due to expire anyway. But reading between the lines, one can’t help but sense that Patrick Lefevere felt a bit betrayed by Specialized’s sudden change of heart.
The “Wasted Breath, Wasted Time, and Wasted Blood” Award
This past year, several teams and riders signed agreements with independent doctors to monitor and publish their “health” findings—only to end these agreements later. First it was Lance, then Team Saxo Bank followed suit. Have you ever read The Great Gatsby? Do you remember the part when the narrator, Nick Carraway, tells us “he’s one of the few honest people that [he] has ever known”? It’s an important moment, for Nick is ironically one of the most dishonest characters in the novel. A fact made doubly important due to the fact that he’s the one narrating. The lesson: never trust a person who boasts of his or her own honesty—especially if they take it back soon after.
The “Innovation Most Likely to Actually Innovate” Award
At first, I think we all thought Shimano’s Di2 electronic group would prove to be nothing more than a passing fancy. Skil-Shimano and Rabobank domestiques were the early testers, but that was attributed to nothing more than a result of their sponsor-team relationships. But soon other, more important riders began choosing to use it—including George Hincapie. And now, several of the World’s fastest cyclocross racers are riding it and winning with it—in some pretty adverse conditions. I won’t be fully sold until it wins a major one-day road race, thus proving its reliability in races where one untimely mechanical problem can be most costly (like on the Poggio, at the foot of the Muur, or in the Arenberg Forest). But I think that day is coming—soon.
The “Innovation Least Likely to Actually Innovate” Award
It’s cool, it’s clever, and it might even work. But it’s not likely to gain a serious foothold in the marketplace.
The “Rider of the Year Who Has Not Already Won a ‘Rider of the Year Award’” Award
I’m not sure about you, but I think one of the best sub-plots of this year’s Tour de France was the mini-Renaissance of French cycling. I say “mini” because it will be difficult to fully proclaim France’s return to Tour prominence until they can boast of a true overall contender. That said, Brice Feillu gave it his best shot this year, winning the stage to Arcalis and finishing 25th overall—in his first Tour. Whether or not he has the talent to win the race outright remains to be seen, but he certainly deserves credit for a classy stage win that lifted the hopes of a nation in desperate need of someone to cheer for—all the way to Paris.
The “What Were They Thinking?” Award
When it was first unveiled to the press, I thought AG2R’s new kit might look pretty cool in a retro sort of way. Then I saw it for real.
And finally…
The “Best Blog That Uses European Cycling Jargon in its Title” Award
La Gazzetta Della Bici is a great choice, but it’s already won something. To me, the winner here is a recent addition to my Google reader: El Cyclista. It’s well-designed, offers focused coverage, and doesn’t overwhelm me with kitsch or angst. (A lesson I’m still trying to learn myself.) It deserves your regular visitation.
(Did you really think I’d create an award just for myself? Puh-lease…)
So I guess that’s it for the last Monday Musette of 2009. Who did we leave out? What awards do you have to share with the rest of us?
Would you like me to take a serious stab at identifying some “real” awards for 2009? I’m happy to offer my insights on the season’s important performances if you wouldn’t consider it redundant. If so, what would you like to see recognized?
Please leave your ideas and comments below. Thanks for reading!

About Whit

My experiences might easily fit many cycling fans' definitions of “living the dream.” Since getting hooked on the sport watching Lance Armstrong win the 1993 U.S. Pro Championship, I've raced as an amateur on Belgian cobbles, traveled Europe to help build a European pro team, and piloted that team from Malaysia to Mont Ventoux. As a former assistant director sportif with Mercury-Viatel, I've also seen the less dreamy side of the sport – the side rife with broken contracts, infighting, and positive dope tests. These days, I live with my lovely wife in Pennsylvania and share my experiences and views on the sport at Bicycling Magazine, the Embrocation Cycling Journal, and at my own site, Pavé.
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