Best races - 2019 edition

Hello,

If I recall correctly we used to discuss what the best 1 day races, stages, stage races of the past season were. I've listed some categories but feel free to add more, anything goes really. Both men and women races.

Best one day race:
Best stage in a stage race:
Best stage race:
Best non-WT race:
Race that left a bad taste in your mouth(non-clinic):
 
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Best one day race: Paris-Roubiax
Best stage in a stage race: Vuelta stage 20
Best stage race: Vuelta a Espana
Best non-WT race: Amstel Gold
Race that left a bad taste in your mouth(non-clinic): Worlds due to the weather conditions
Funniest stage due to strange team tactics: Movistar stage Tour stage 18 (Movistar had several others in the running for this one).
 
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Best one day race: Paris - Roubaix ( I didn't get to see Amstel)
Best stage in a stage race: TdF 14 my dream outcome for once was not crushed by bad luck or the train
Best stage race: TdF despite the ending
Best non-WT race: The worlds RR only because I finally got to be there
Race that left a bad taste in your mouth(non-clinic): none really but having to watch the seasons best sprinter slug it out in the Vuelta annoyed me
 
Best one day race: Amstel - there may have actually been some races that were better overall, but at the end of the year, that finale is what comes to mind first about this years one-day races.
Best stage in a stage race: Vuelta stage 17 (the one with echelons)
Best stage race: Giro. Vuelta overdelivered, but I still liked Giro more
Best non-WT race: Paris-Tours . Not quite as great and memorable as the year before, but still my favourite of those races I saw from this category
Race that left a bad taste in your mouth(non-clinic): Tour stage 19 - Pinot abandoning due to injury. A real low point of otherwise very good season.
 
I'll make top 5's (and a very long post, I'm afraid):

Best one day race:

5: Paris-Roubaix - it would be a weird year if Paris-Roubaix could not crack the top five but I wasn't that much a fan this year. I was getting tired of Deceuninck winning everything and devastated that Sagan hunger-flatted after suddenly having looked like his old self. I was very relieved that Lampaert didn't secure himself a tactical victory and felt it was about time that Gilbert wasn't the victim of the QuickStep outnumbering situation that he had so often been the last couple of years. The Van Aert substory was also quite remarkable. And it was still some of the best few hours spent in front of the television of the year - just not quite as much as it can be, and the finale was not as compelling as you could have wanted.

4: WCRR - apart from wasting Koronin's time, the world championships road race provided the rest of us with a brutal race with an intriguing finish including plenty of plot twists, and it truly showed why so many people on here always come in to leave a comment asking for rain before every important race. I don't have it higher on my list because there was not much suspense in the battle of the Pedersen-Trentin-van der Poel-Küng-Moscon group versus the peloton which made the outcome feel like a foregone conclusion, as soon as they had gone away. It turned out not to be the case, but still, it was a bit too static.

3: Milan-Sanremo - it's only 7-8 minutes of fun, but definitely some of the most high-octane and star-studded action of the year. It left me mightily depressed that Sagan again screwed up but objectively, it was as good a finale as you could have hoped.

2: Gent-Wevelgem - okay, it ended in a bunch sprint with Kristoff winning in front of Degenkolb but what went before was the most brutal one-day race of recent memory. Cross-wind racing from the gun (literally) made the riders fight for position in the neutral start - 250 kms from the finish! The race had everything but the end result was a bit disappointing. Fernando Gaviria deserves a mention for his role in Kristoff's win, though, pretending to be the one UAE rode for, which ended up completely disrupting Viviani's chances. That was brilliant team tactics by the Colombian.

1: Amstel Gold Race - a finale of 43 kilometres provided an hour of fine racing and 7-8 minutes of insanity that I can just watch over and over again. The most extraordinary ending to a one-day race I have ever seen makes Amstel take the cake here.


Best stage in a stage race:

5: Itzulia, final stage - Buchmann was in yellow after a magnificent stage victory on the Arrate stage and after three stage wins from his teammate Schachmann. They also had Patrick Konrad in the top ten, yet the whole race crumbled for them in the face of victory, when the dynamic quintet of Adam Yates, Dan Martin, Pogacar, Fuglsang and Ion Izagirre went away. Yates, the only man without company in the group managed to sneak away for a stage win, whereas Izagirre managed to win his home race for the first time after three podium placings. The stage ended bizarrely, with Buchmann et al. taking a wrong turn at the end, and him getting awarded overall third after Fuglsang had been celebrated on the podium. Nevertheless, the decision didn't seem too unreasonable to anyone but the Dane.

4: Paris-Nice, opening two stages - Okay, I'm cheating a bit here, but the first two stages of Paris-Nice were very similar and epitomised what the race is all about. Hardcore cross-wind action from a long way out may have resulted in two Groenewegen stage wins but it also did a big job of chopping off a bunch of GC riders who had hoped to have the race settled in the mountains. Nope said Luke Rowe and Egan Bernal.

3: Tour de France, stage 15 (Prat d'Albis) - One of the most proper, old school GC battles on a MTF we've seen in the Tour for a long time with actual separation, no mountain train and not just a final kilometre attack, but riders riding in ones and twos for a long time. Pinot winning that battle emphatically made was what to follow all the more heartbreaking. Not riding for the stage win takes the stage down to here.

2: Vuelta a España, stage 20 - Pogacar's third win and the most impressive, what with him attacking from very far out, soloing it home. Valverde's inexplicable stopping to his attack because he didn't like that Bora chased him irked me a lot, but the stage was still great.

1: Vuelta a España, stage 17 - the fastest plus 200 kms stage or race in cycling history was a very compelling saga. It was a veritable bomb down the GC where plenty of top 10 riders were blown out of the water and where we suddenly had a group consisting of only Valverde, Roglic, Superman, Majka, Pogacar and Kelderman with 40 kilometres remaining on a flat stage. It was bizarre, it was compelling, it ended up not being as influential as it seemed it could be, and it ended up with a win for Gilbert over Sam Bennett and Cavagna who proved himself to be one of the strongest riders of the world on this day.

Best stage race:

5: Itzulia - A fine race dominated by German Bora riders came to a dramatic conclusion on the untraditional final non-TT stage. The race included a dramatic crash that took out some of the major Ardennes players (Kwiatkowski and Alaphilippe), and it was the race where we really saw that Pogacar was the real deal. And Izagirre finally got his unlikely overall victory in his home Tour.

4: Tirreno-Adriatico - No MTF made this race very interesting, and the WTF-moment of the year came on stage 4 where Lutsenko was on a solo attack, crashed twice on the same descent, got caught on the finishing straight and then won the sprint. The next day was the only time outside the Giro where someone managed to make Roglic seem human. That someone was Adam Yates but also Fuglsang who had broken free early and took an impressive stage victory to continue an extraordinary spring. The finish of the race was dramatic too with Roglic snatching the GC win from Yates by a single second on the final TT.

3: Paris-Nice - A gale welcomed the riders on the flat and open opening two days and the race was splintered to pieces in the cross-winds. Simon Yates randomly won a TT, Martínez somehow beat Superman and Yates on a MTF, Magnus Cort showed his strength as a breakaway artist and Quintana made a fine effort on the last stage against a Sky team that was never out of control and secured Egan Bernal his biggest victory.

2: Vuelta a España - There was not much doubting who would win but other than that, there was plenty of fun. The youngest rider in the race winning three stages and finishing third behind the oldest rider in the race, plenty of cross-wind shenanigans, bath-tub induced crashes on the TTT (okay, that was perhaps not fun for everyone involved), Madrazo with the weirdest stage win I ever saw, López getting and losing the jersey so many times that his teammates must have gotten epileptical, Quintana winning a "flat" stage, and the whole Andorra climb being shrouded in mystery due to the insanely ill-timed hailstorm that rendered TV production impossible.

1: Tour de France - I think this is the first time I have really felt this way but during the last week of the Tour I could barely contain myself over the excitement - you just didn't know who would win. Everything was open. Alaphilippe's show was always unlikely to continue until Paris but Pinot looked like the most likely winner, with Thomas as his biggest rival. Then Bernal stunk in the TT, then Thomas cracked on the Tourmalet, then Alaphilippe cracked on the Prat d'Albis, then Bernal regained time on the Galibier, and then Pinot abandoned, and landslides and Bernal and.... It was a wild ride and BY FAR the best Tour we have had in this decade.

Best non-WT race:

I don't count Worlds to belong in this category, even though it technically does.
And I can only comment on what I watched (which is most races but not all).

5: European Road Race - and then again - I didn't watch this race. But I heard it was good. I also heard that Lampaert just rode for second to make Viviani win. Two riders I dislike. And Deceuninck. But Viviani winning in this way was impressive and it's hard to argue that was not a deserving wearer of the jersey.

4: Arctic Race of Norway - A nice race in a beautiful and unforgiving environment. Van der Poel came, saw and won but then got a bit sick and stopped winning. In the end, Lutsenko won the race because Barguil couldn't hold his wheel in the final sprint and prevent him from gaining a second.

3: Tour of Belgium - Evenepoel's origin story. Him riding so fast that Campenaerts crashed, trying to follow him was when most realised that the future had arrived (especially those not so few people who either didn't watch the Hammer Limburg or who think that somehow, performances in Hammer races have nothing to do with cycling ability) and that this kid can ride a road bike solo like nobody else.

2: Volta ao Algarve - Pogacar's emergence on the big scene. Solid ITT, brilliant climbing, but what made this race stand out for me was the last stage where Søren Kragh in his by far best day of the season attacked from afar with Zdenek Stybar and almost managed to snatch the GC victory but had to settle for second while Stybar took the stage win on the Malhão to set up his most succesful spring campaign so far.

1: Brabantse Pijl - van der Poel, Alaphilippe, Matthews and Wellens is a pretty strong quartet to decide non-WT race. And van der Poel winning rather convincingly made him the big favourite for Amstel. Alexander Kamp almost managing to follow that group was probably what finally landed him a WT contract.

Race that left a bad taste in your mouth(non-clinic):

5: Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne - The Opening Weekend ending with two Deceuninck solo victories did not bode well. That Bob Jungels could just trot up to the cobbled classics and ride away with a long solo attack boded even worse. I almost shut down my TV when he did the same in E3 but amazingly, the other riders managed to come to an agreement of actually trying to catch him - and even more amazingly, they succeeded. Then Stybar just battered them in the sprint, but still.

4: Tre Valli Varesine - Not Roglic' most deserved win, let's just say that.

3: Il Lombardia - Freaking commercial break on the Civiglio! And nobody understanding the danger when Mollema attacked. How could they just let him get away? Why can Valverde never learn? So annoying.

2: Tour of Flanders - It was the worst edition since the Devolder years, I think. No separation of the best meant a big group, and Bettiol was probably the strongest but it wasn't very interesting to follow the last 15 kms even if it was a very impressive and surprising victory. Van der Poel jumping the flowerbed was stupid, and him crashing because he rode one-handed with a broken front wheel even more so. That he still managed to be fourth speaks volumes about his level. Valverde mixing it up was delightful, Sagan being mediocre less so. Asgreen was an absolute beast and that was of course also delightful to watch, but it was a bit sad to think that he might have won if he hadn't been used as a domestique since mid-way through the race even if that role made sense to give him.

1: Giro d'Italia - I think it sucked. All the way through. Horrible, horrible design of the first 12 stages, many key players getting taken out, a relative no-name who apparently can't be bothered to race the other 11 months of the year ending up winning, almost all stages going to breakaway riders. Chaves winning was an emotional highlight but a cheap victory in a weak breakaway group, and if Vendrame had not had a mechanical issue, he would have won instead. The Jumbo peeing issue was comedic but bad for the race. Ciccone was a positive highlight, so was Masnada. Campenaerts getting pushed while running with his bike was also comedy gold in a heartbreaking moment for him.
 
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Best one day race: Paris-Roubiax
Best stage in a stage race: Vuelta stage 20
Best stage race: Vuelta a Espana
Best non-WT race: Amstel Gold
Race that left a bad taste in your mouth(non-clinic): Worlds due to the weather conditions
Funniest stage due to strange team tactics: Movistar stage Tour stage 18 (Movistar had several others in the running for this one).
How is Amstel Gold non-WT?
 
So do redo this as I had though Amstel wasn't WT, but I was wrong. Here's my revised list:

Best one day race: Paris-Roubiax and Amstel
Best stage in a stage race: Vuelta stage 20
Best stage race: Vuelta a Espana
Best non-WT race: Volta a Valencia
Race that left a bad taste in your mouth(non-clinic): Worlds due to the weather conditions
Funniest stage due to strange team tactics: Movistar stage Tour stage 18 (Movistar had several others in the running for this one).
 
Best one day race: Amstel
Best stage in a stage race: T-A stage 4(Lutse)
Best stage race: Vuelta
Best non-WT race: Worlds, if not allowed(!?) -> Giro dell'Emilia
Race that left a bad taste in your mouth: Pinot Tour stage 19
 
"Best" is a little subjective even for my tastes, but I DO like subjectivity, so since I can't be stopped from doing so I'm changing the controlling adjective to "Favorite."

Favorite one day race: Trofeo Laigueglia, for two reasons: (1) I adore the smaller Coppa Italia di ciclismo races with all those Italian Continental teams wearing their logo salad jerseys and riders on the way up and on the way down in their careers racing their hearts out for points (I wish every cycling nation had a Cup, and that all the races were televised); and (2) the awesome, nutty, and successful lone breakaway by Simone Velasco (definitely one of the “on the way up” riders) was a joy to behold as he rode the hills taking crazy risks.

Favorite stage in a stage race: Tie. (1) Stage 5 of the Giro Rosa (okay, okay, the Giro d'Italia Internazionale Femminile). van Vleuten was a beast! (2) Stage 3 of the Giro di Sicilia. I predict big things from this McNulty kid!

Favorite stage race: The Vuelta. I love how all the Hispanophone riders who haven’t posted any results all season turn themselves inside out in pretty much every single stage.

Favorite non-WT race: The World Championship Men’s Junior Road Race. I don’t care what goofball things people have to say about the extraordinary Quinn Simmons’ looks (why are so many people obsessed with the birth certificates of high-achieving Americans?), this was a quality win, and one that wouldn’t have been possible without the insane effort put in by Bronze medalist Magnus Sheffield.

Race(s) that left a bad taste in my mouth: All the Coupe de France races that I didn’t get to watch because nobody in the States has broadcast rights and what I thought was a legal feed of L’Equipe TV turned out not to be.
 
Belgian All-Star Edition:

Best one day race: Paris-Roubaix & San Sebastian. A lot has been said about the remarkable come-back by Mathieu van der Poel in Amstel (rightfully so), but what about van Aert's comeback in Paris-Roubaix? He was unlucky he had to start chasing with 2 hours of racing left on the clock, unlike his nemesis in Amstel, and was (imho) by far the strongest rider in the race, but completely spent in the final 15k. Puncture, bike change, crash, held up by team cars... and still he got back to the front, solo, against all odds with no help from his team, and seemed like he was going to boss the final. But the toll had been too high. Or what about Evenepoel's comeback in San Sebastian? Dropped prior to the penultimate climb due to a mechanical (gear issue), having to start the penultimate climb in dead-last position, making his way to the front, bringing bottles for Mas and Devenyns, attacking with Skuijns, destroying Movistar and Astana in the process, dropping Skuijns on the final climb, not cracking and solo'ing to victory, at the age of 19.

Best stage in a stage race: Thomas De Gendt, TDF. Whoever did not fill out this answer got it completely wrong.

Best stage race: This being the Belgian All-Star Edition, i hereby adopt Egan Bernal. The answer for me this year, is the TDF. I would have been fine with Alaphilippe winning it (though i'd always fear that one day it would be stripped away from him, because... i don't know if i could have believed it had it happened) or even Kruijswijk, who i think is A-OK. It was the most entertaining TDF in a long time for me personally. Three Belgian stagewins (all beautifull, De Gendt, van Aert & Teuns), plot twists galore in the General Classifications, Benoot still not knowing how to win a race, drama with van Aert's crash and Pinot's abandon, comedy gold with Viviani's face when van Aert won... Something there for everyone.

Best non-WT race: Hammer Climb Limburg. Not because this was such a remarkable race in it's own right, but because the look on the faces of the riders in the peloton, who did not fully understand exactly what was happening. A kid who had just turned 19 a few months ago, and was supposed to be a first year espoir, rode away, farted and shouted something which was later analysed by lip readers as "smell ya later, suckers!". They would only see his face again when they stumbled across the finishline in San Sebastian, when he was celebrating on the podium, as they wept and cried.

Race that left a bad taste in your mouth (non-clinic): Tour of Poland - stage 3. My heart broke.
 
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Best non-WT race: Hammer Climb Limburg. Not because this was such a remarkable race in it's own right, but because the look on the faces of the riders in the peloton, who did not fully understand exactly what was happening. A kid who had just turned 19 a few months ago, and was supposed to be a first year junior, rode away, farted and shouted something which was later analysed by lip readers as "smell ya later, suckers!". They would only see his face again when they stumbled across the finishline in San Sebastian, when he was celebrating on the podium, as they wept and cried.
*First year U23, to be fair.

And regarding your choice for best stage, I get that, and it was incredibly impressive but for me, breakaway stages never really hit home. This had GC drama, though (and again, I concede that the breakaway was probably the most incredible in modern Grand Tour history) so maybe I should have had it on my list.
 
*First year U23, to be fair.

And regarding your choice for best stage, I get that, and it was incredibly impressive but for me, breakaway stages never really hit home. This had GC drama, though (and again, I concede that the breakaway was probably the most incredible in modern Grand Tour history) so maybe I should have had it on my list.
Right, brainfart. As for my "best stage" answer, i hope it was clear that this was intended to be a biased post. Though, i do genuinely not agree with Amstel overall (except for the last 30 minutes), and i think it's sad Lambrecht is already forgotten. But it's all meant to be lighthearted.
 
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I didn't watch that much cycling this year, so I don't have a lot to add that hasn't already been mentioned. Toby highlights a lot of great moments. I especially share in the love for Paris-Nice and Tour of Belgium.

The Vuelta had quite a few good stages, the Madrazo, gravel MTF and Pogacar solo raid ones in particular. I also think the Giro is underappreciated, but maybe it's because the Giro always gets my vote for best race anyway by virtue of being the Giro. I'll concede that there were objectively better races this year.

I enjoyed watching back the Ronde d'Isard, U23 Giro and a few other of the U23 races.

A race that left a sour taste in my mouth was the cancelled Tignes stage. I hate what-ifs like that, and I don't completely buy the idea that Bernal would have continued to ride away from everyone through the long valley and up the last climb. That Tour win will always have a bit of an asterisk for me.
 
Funny...I logged in ready to start such a thread. End of year recaps are always cool, as we look back and also guess what the future will be.

Best One Day Race: AGR: Alaf ready to cannibalize cycling, crazy final, MVP spoiling the party. It was a "what just happened" moment.

Best GT: Le Tour, for once. Suspense, drama, even the weird stage cut short, WTF ending doesn't matter. Il Giro and La Vuelta just weren't that good, design, action, and otherwise.

My best day: Prat d'Albis: Tibopino dropping the future winner like a bad habit for the second time. Or third actually. This one was commanding.

My worst day: a few days later, and I have watched "Avec Thibaut" documentary, maybe fifty times, I'm still so sad, but if there is a God, Thibaut Pinot shall be rewarded.

Let's not forget the ladies and Annemiek ...WOW!
 
Best one day race: Worlds
Best stage in a stage race: Tour de France Stage 15/Tirreno-Adriatico Stage 5
Best stage race: Tirreno-Adriatico
Best non-WT race: Tro Bro Leon
Race that left a bad taste in your mouth(non-clinic): Tour de France Stage 19, more because of Pinot abandoning than the cancellation
 
The stage ended bizarrely, with Buchmann et al. taking a wrong turn at the end, and him getting awarded overall third after Fuglsang had been celebrated on the podium. Nevertheless, the decision didn't seem too unreasonable to anyone but the Dane.
In retrospect his hissy-fit - and that's really what it was - seems extra silly because, let's face it; it's not like it would've been the one good result salvaging an otherwise *** season.
I still hope he doesn't do the race next year, but that's just because it will make it significantly easier for him to do Paris-Roubaix, which he has expressed interest in doing.

Race(s) that left a bad taste in my mouth: All the Coupe de France races that I didn’t get to watch because nobody in the States has broadcast rights and what I thought was a legal feed of L’Equipe TV turned out not to be.
Let me get this straight; the races left a bad taste, not because of the racing, but because you'd accidentally watched an illegal feed?

Race that left a bad taste in your mouth (non-clinic): Tour of Poland - stage 3. My heart broke.
I think Ackermann (who'd been given the win that day after Jakobsen was relegated) put it best; at the end of the day it didn't really matter who'd won the stage.
 
Let me get this straight; the races left a bad taste, not because of the racing, but because you'd accidentally watched an illegal feed?
Oh, I see where I went wrong there, sorry. Not exactly. I was watching L'Equipe (and really improving my "cycling French") for a month or so there on a service called FirstOneTV that had the every appearance of being legit. But then the plug got pulled so I couldn't watch them any more. That said, it is true that, as a person who makes his living off copyrights, I'm very intellectual property pirating-averse. Which thought leads me down the garden path to how nutty it is the way tv rights are handled in this sport, but anyway, I wish I could watch more French races. I tried to convince FloBikes that they could broadcast them without having to worry about English announcers but they didn't seem interested.
 
How could you think that FirstOne was legit? They had tons of channels of all main European countries and for free, of course that wasn't legal.

But it was nice while it lasted.
Because it looked fancy through rose-colored glasses. (And there was site-sourced advertising--heck, I don't know, I really did think so, though.)

I did write the "contact us" email at L'Equipe TV and asked if there was any way I could subscribe to a feed and got a semi-testy email back in English (I guess they didn't think much of my French, which, well, fair) about "restrictions geographic." Geo-restrictions are something else I'm not down with, in any medium. Take my money.
 

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