Best races - 2019 edition

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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.
I hadn't heard of it, but i know there are a lot of apps like it, all of them (as far is i know) illegal, even though if you search websites for such services, many will claim them to be legal. Maybe they get a cut from the adds in those apps or are affiliated in other ways. Mobdro, Live Planet tv, Live Net tv, Free etv... they are all illegal. Some people here still seem to think the ever popular cycling broadcast site TIZ is legal.

There are countries where you can go to the market on the street, get a legit looking tv box with a subscription of 10-20 euro per month, and get all channels in Europe, lol. A friend of mine owns an appartment in Spain and didn't know how to watch Belgian tv, so he got that, thinking it was legit and legal. Haha. (Particularly funny, since the subscription he's paying in Belgium allows him to watch Belgian tv all over Europe online, which he didn't know either). I guess the closest you can get to watching such content legal, is to get a subscription to a decent VPN service (to circumvent geoblocking) and get a subscription on the service from the country you want to watch, and pretend to live in that country. At least that way you know the copyrights holders are getting paid.
 
Best one day race: Amstel Gold Race, Paris Roubaix a close 2nd
Best stage in a stage race: Honestly don't know, I really don't have many close memories of the one week stage races this year and I missed those crazy late vuelta stages.
Best stage race: I think Pais Vasco was pretty good
Race that left me with a sour taste: Easy, stage 19 of the tour. That stage ruined what could have been the first properly good tour in years. So sad that we didn't get the showdown we were looking forward to.
 
Best one day race: Amstel Gold Race, Paris Roubaix a close 2nd
Best stage in a stage race: Honestly don't know, I really don't have many close memories of the one week stage races this year and I missed those crazy late vuelta stages.
Best stage race: I think Pais Vasco was pretty good
Race that left me with a sour taste: Easy, stage 19 of the tour. That stage ruined what could have been the first properly good tour in years. So sad that we didn't get the showdown we were looking forward to.
Or, they were crazy because you missed them. :p
 
I just realised a terrible oversight on my part (and apparently everybody else's as well).

There can be no doubt that the best non WT race was Colombia 2.1.

That was an absolutely fantastic race, especially the last few days where the coverage became good enough. Insane crowds, aggressive racing from far out on several days, star-studded field.

I will even include it in my top 5 for stage races and the last stage in my top 5 of stages.
 
Best one day race: Amstel, although LBL was pretty great, with Fuglsang's epic save at the end. Remco's SS win was awesome, too. A good year in my eyes for one-day races.
Best stage in a stage race: Giro stage 16, the Mortirolo -- epic conditions, though wouldn't argue with Vuelta stage 20 either.
Best stage race: TdF -- Allez Alaf, allez Tibo! (even if it fizzled at the end)
Best non-WT race: n/a, didn't watch too many, and only did with half an eye on the TV
Race that left a bad taste in your mouth: Tour of California, with TJ getting a blatant push after being caught out.
 
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Best one day race: Paris-Roubaix. Yes, Amstel had an amazing finale, but the majority of the race wasn't that great.
Best stage in a stage race: So many to pick from - crosswind stages in the Tour & Vuelta; solo raids by Pogacar, Carthy & Van Vleuten; mountain battles on Tourmalet, Prat d'Albis & Andorra; Quintana soloing to victory in Calpe...but my pick goes to Thomas de Gendt, Alaphilippe & Pinot on stage 8 of TdF. Thrilling!
Best stage race: TdF. Shame about the cancelled stages at the end, but it had me literally on the edge of my seat at times.
Best non-WT race: I think Tour de Yorkshire was the only one I watched. It was ok.
Race that left a bad taste in your mouth: To pick something not mentioned yet - the U23 WCRR. Cycling didn't come out of that looking too great...
 
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Best one day race: Gent-Wevelgem. It was a year of thrills, but nothing matched the thrill of the race coverage starting and seeing a break up the road containing virtually every pre-race favorite except the DQS riders. If you saw that the race came down to a sprint and assumed it was boring, watch it.

HMs go to P-R, the UCI Men's Elite WCs, and Amstel

Best stage in a stage race: I'm going to cheat here and list week-long stage races and GT stages separately. Foix Prat d'Albis was the best GT stage of the year - and when I truly believed Pinot could pull it off. It didn't happen, but for a freak muscle tear after an accident, I'm convinced he could have hung with Bernal.

A strong honorable mention to the Androrra stage this Vuelta- one of the few times a coverage drop-off improved the race, as the scenes when coverage resumed five minutes after Lopez struck out to attack the final climb were the bike equivalent of one of those murder mysteries where the power goes out during a dinner party, and by the time they turn back on, four people have been stabbed to death. Vuelta stage 20, with Astana's tactics descending into "throw *** at the wall and hope it sticks" and Pogacar calmly waiting for everyone to tire themselves out and strike at the perfect time was wonderful to watch too.

Best one-week stage was the T-A stage where Lutsenko pulled off an absurd win after crashing twice on the final descent. Strong HM goes to the final stage of the Volta a Catalunya, a thrilling GC fight around Montjuic Park.

Best Stage Race: GT: Much as the ending put a bad taste in my mouth, it has to be the Tour. The Vuelta was three weeks of entertaining stages but wasn't too exciting from a GC standpoint (other than the fights for 2nd/3rd), and I also wasn't too fond of the ridiculous red jersey Hot Potato game in the first half, while the Tour was a completely unexpected suspense drama that kept everyone on edge throughout.

Best non-GT stage race has to be Tirreno-Adriatico, though the Volta a Catalunya and Paris-Nice were really fun as well.

Best Non-WT race: Worlds is cheating, right? Very much liked Michael Woods winning Milano-Torino, but my favorite was probably Bob Jungels ruining the "Sprinter's Classic" of KBK by striking out with a long range solo attack, with QS brilliantly disrupting the chase behind.

Best World Tour Race That Literally Nobody Watched: Plouay/Bretegne Classic was about 75km of wonderfully active racing right from the catch of the initial break, with former U23 champ Bernard Cosnefroy being a beast, the hilarity of GVA and the peloton seeing a group of Vanmarke/Benoot/Jack Haig going up the road and being like "Sure, that's a good group to let go in a one-day race", and a wonderfully deserving winner.

Race that left a bad taste in your mouth: A shortened Val Thorens stage was no way to finish a wonderful Tour, even if they had no choice.
 
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Haven't really thought about the De Gendt stage win when thinking about this, and tbh I still wouldn't pick it, but I gotta say that stage was actually really good for a hilly gt stage.
It had the team ineos crash, before their big chase on the final climb, the attack by Pinot and Alaphilippe, the chase between them and the gc contenders and aside from all of that De Gendt's completely insane victory. That's the kind of stuff we see way too rarely in grand tours.
 
Haven't really thought about the De Gendt stage win when thinking about this, and tbh I still wouldn't pick it, but I gotta say that stage was actually really good for a hilly gt stage.
It had the team ineos crash, before their big chase on the final climb, the attack by Pinot and Alaphilippe, the chase between them and the gc contenders and aside from all of that De Gendt's completely insane victory. That's the kind of stuff we see way too rarely in grand tours.
De Gendt's win was more meritorious because he spent plenty of time riding on the front of the peleton in support of Ewan in previous stages - It's his best GT stage victory.
 
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It was wonderful to see the fans going nuts at the finish. Only stronger reaction was them going ballistic at Ala's final punch up the finishing hill at the Pau TT.
 

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