2011 Classic Season Awards – Part 1

Fotoreporter Sirotti

With the Giro d’Italia imminent, the terrible truth is that the Classics Season has drawn to a close. We here at Pavé thought it would be fitting that in lieu of bestowing Rider of the Month (which we have probably already made quite clear) and Team of the Month, as we are accustomed to publishing, we could commemorate such a spectacular set of races with a series of awards. The award articles will be unveiled in two parts; stay tuned for Part Two shortly. As with Rider of the Month and Team of the Month, any of the winners may feel free to be in touch with us for a gift basket.

Best Team

Despite the team’s failure to win a Monument, Leopard-Trek was the spring’s most consistent team, placing a rider on the final podium in Milan-San Remo, the E3 Prijs (the squad’s lone victory), Ghent-Wevelgem, the Ronde, Paris-Roubaix, and Liege-Bastogne-Liege, with Frank Schleck also winning the Criterium International. While the squad failed to live up to the hype it created heading into the season, Leopard certainly performed better than any other first year team in recent years, and many if not all of the peloton’s younger squads like Sky, BMC, and Vacansoleil.

Most Spectacular and Amusing Crash

Congrats to Bjorn Leukemans (Vacansoleil) for winning this dubious award for one of his many crashes during Paris-Roubaix. The Belgian rider crashed just before the race entered the Mons-en-Pevele sector, slowly sprawling over Europcar’s Said Haddou in a comical fashion: let’s go to the video tape. Unfortunate for his race, sure, but we’re glad he wasn’t injured.

Best Comeback

While many were hoping that Danilo Di Luca would once again reclaim the title of peloton’s most exciting rider… – ha! Just kidding. Best comeback goes to Nick Nuyens, who has quietly reestablished himself as one of the world’s underrated hardmen. His win at Dward door Vlaanderen alone was enough to make his Belgian fans smile, but he went the whole nine yards by winning de Ronde with a smart racing strategy which was topped off by a cunning and well-timed move in the race’s final kilometers.

Most Disappointing Rider

This year, it seemed that several riders fought very hard for this prestigious award – many in the peloton, it seemed, wanted this to grace their palmares. The clear favorite, however, was Stijn Devolder of Vacansoleil for an outstanding display of disappointment. The current Belgian road race and time trial champion is marketed as a Classics specialist, and due to a disastrous 2010 season he wanted to come back fighting strong. However, due to crashes and ill fortune, his results so far this year have been lacklustre: 69th in Amstel Gold, 37th in Brabantse Pifl, 105th in Paris-Roubaix, 90th in Scheldeprijs, 50th in E3 Prijs, 38th in de Ronde, and 61st in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. Needless to say, the Belgian is determined to keep fighting in the hope that his results improve – and in his words, “Resultaten kunnen niet uitblijven.”

Thanks for tuning in, and check back tomorrow for Part 2! Meanwhile – what to you was noteworthy during this year’s Classics campaign? What stood out, and what disappointed? Share your thoughts below.

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5 Responses to 2011 Classic Season Awards – Part 1

  1. Robot says:

    I felt that Thor Hushovd was much more disappointing than Devolder. I expected Devolder to suck. Hushovd is wearing the rainbow stripes AND has a stacked Classics squad to support him, and he still failed to do the stripes proud.

    Then he whined about it. Poor.

  2. hamncheeze says:

    Best team could also have gone to Omega Pharma-Lotto as they managed to find just enough guys with form to give Gilbert just enough support in order for him to win all those races.

    Comeback rider is surely Nuyens, but mention should be given to Greg Van Avermaet who seemed lost in the forest at Omega Pharma-Lotto but showed up lean and mean in Qatar this year and kept it rolling all spring long, with superb attacking rides in Milan-San Remo and L-B-L.

  3. rob says:

    It's a shame that Leopard Trek, who really lit up every race they were in, came away empty. Compare that to Garvelo, who seemed to go missing in every race, coming away with a fluky victory in Roubaix.

  4. Doug Page says:

    No agreement here….I feel Lay-Opard Trek has been the most presumptuous and banal part of the current cycling scene. I think they should ask where Philippe Gilbert got his "cojones" and go get some for themselves. And they shouldn't expect the peloton to wait for them every time they have a little problem.

  5. Mattio says:

    Leopard-Trek definitely raises some ambivalence. For a super-team they've been disappointing. You'd expect them to totally own some of these races. But though they've struggled to live up to the hype, it's hard to argue with the results listed above. Any other team and it would be a banner Spring.

    Rob – I have to disagree with your point on Garmin-Cervelo. I think rather than go missing in every race, they put themselves into very strong positions, tactically, but couldn't convert (so, well, yeah, maybe that's going missing) – until Roubaix, where their tactical position was too strong for Cancellara, who gave Van Summeren a leash just long enough. I don't think that bridging to the break with 100k to go, and then attacking it with 20k to go and riding in solo on a flat tire counts as a fluke. Add the role of Vanmarcke who went up the road before Cancellara's attack so he could support Hushovd as their ace up the hole, and I think it's textbook.

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