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The best of the season so far....

L-B-L more or less marks then end of the first part of the season as we now begin the Grand Tours, so what do people think of the season so far.
For what its worth, here is my Best of so far.....

Best race: Paris-Nice-lots of exciting racing, changing race lead, Contador exploding etc.

Best Classic- For me, the classics lacked an outstanding race this year, they all seemed to be dictated by tactics, with riders getting away i.e. Devolder, Boonen, Hagen, Schleck and having their teams control behind or finishing in sprints. I hesitantly give the nod to Paris-Roubaix, always fun to watch and hell to ride.

Best Stage Race rider
1. Alberto Contador-looks in great shape already despite P-N
2. Levi Leipheimer-2 stage race victories despite a bad injury
3. Luis Leon Sanchez-looked great in Paris-Nice

Best Classics Rider
1. Heinrich Haussler- a breakout season for the German Aussie
2. Thor Hushovd-finally evolving into a real classic contender
3. Philip Gilbert-only rider competitive on cobbles and hills

Best Teams
1. Cervelo-not a bad start for a new team
2. Serrementi-another non PT team showing you dont need big bucks to win
3. Astana/Quick Step-dominant in their respective areas-Tours/Cobbles

Best thread on this site since I joined- Team Kit thread

- Cervelo proving to be a excellent team in its first season
- The improving performances of the French riders-always encouraging for the health of the sport
- No major controversies despite the Lance/Valverde shennanigans, fingers crossed
- The end of the UCI/ASO war, hopefully

- Tactics dominating the classics
- Lance, the return of the circus, just what we didnt miss, sorry
- Some bad crashes, especially the Impey/Bos one
- Lots of races dissappearing due to economic problems
- The unfortunate death of Frederik Nolf RIP

Roll on the Giro!!!
Mar 19, 2009
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Best Domestique
1 Johan Van Summeren
2 Sylvain Chavanel

Quickstep has been the best team. Columbia has two big victories. Katusha has been very good also.
I'll play.

Best team:

Quick Step - 13 wins. Classics domination Wins at Roubaix, Flanders, Kuurne, Dwars and 2nds at Brabantse Pijl, E3 Prijs. Even had a couple of stage race GC victories at Qatar and TdU. Clear winner to me as they've won virtually everything they've really wanted to win.

Others in no particular order:
Astana - 13 wins, including 4 stage race GCs and two 2nds, but a poor classics showing
Serrimenti - 19 wins - granted, many were at smaller races, but they also won Fleche
Cervelo - new team with great results. Win at Het Volk(or whatever they call it now), 4 podium places in the monuments
Columbia - train rolls on, 18 wins, including San Remo and Gent
Katusha - new to the PT ranks but 13 wins, mostly sprints, but also wins at Amstel and E3 Prijs, 2nd at Roubaix

Contador - 7 wins incl/ 2 stage race GCs, 4 2nds
Cavendish - 8 wins, including MSR
Haussler - 3 wins, 2nds in MSR and Flanders, 9 podiums
Rebellin 3 wins, including Fleche, 9 podiums
L Sanchez - 5 wins, incl/ 2 stage race GCs

Honorable mention:
Hushovd - only 2 wins, but podiums at MSR and Roubaix
Boonen - 4 wins including Roubaix (expectations for him just are insanely high)
Leipheimer - 4 wins incl/ 2 stage race GCs
A Schleck - 1st, 2nd, and 10th in the Ardennes

Most anonymous PT teams so far: AG2r (granted we haven't gotten to the part of the year when they usually shine but still...)
Fuji-Servetto - not really fair I guess, since they've been shut out of so many races
Milram - I feel like I've hardly seen those cow kits so far this year
I like these kinds of threads.

To me the best race so far was Milan-San Remo. Just to see Cavendish sprint from that far back to barely win at the end was astonishing. P-N was indeed good too, to see Contador pushed like that. P-R was way too clean.

I think this year's Tour of California was pretty interesting. Their best edition yet, though it was over fairly early. It got the season off to a great start.

Agree with Jay. I am not a big Quickstep fan, but you have to admit they won pretty much every race they wanted to. Team of the year so far.

Cervelo has been a pleasant surprise. If Sastre can podium in Rome, they'll really show something.

These may be neutral:

Good to see Ivan Basso back and looking like he can seriously contend. Let's hope things go well for him and he keeps his nose clean (I think he will). For Americans, it's somewhat good to see Floyd Landis back and riding with a positive attitude. He didn't confess, but for those that liked him (I did long ago) he's been quite modest and seems happy to just be racing - though no results so far. Let's hope he keeps his nose clean as well (I think he will too).

As to the negatives:

Agree on too much exposure on Lance.

The whole Tyler Hamilton thing was just bad. Bad for him, bad for the sport.

Hearing of some team's financial troubles, including paying staff, has been bad. We've heard about troubles with Astana and RR even.

Definitely agree on the crashes. Just some awful crashes. And the whole Bos-Impey thing was just ugly.
Highlight of the season for me so far was watching Devolder win PR then Boonen take the Ronde the next weekend. I love those two cobbled classics, I love Belgium, and I love to see the Belgians kicking *** in their home races. I wish "De Peet" Petegem was still racing. :(

And yes I agree with the OP that Thor Hushovd looks like he's going to be a real threat on the cobbles from now on.
Mar 11, 2009
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Great season so far, Highlights for me:
Allan Davis winning TDU (I am an Aussie)
Devolder in the Ronde,
Hausslers ride in MSr and Roubaix, If he had have made it to the winning move who knows. I hate hindsight...
Rogers coming back into form.
the Eroica Toscana, what a great parcours,

O'Grady crasing in MSR to miss all the classics season.
Valverde and the Coni stuff.

Another high on the track side is Leigh Howard winning the world title in the Omnium, He is gonna be a superstar on the road.
Alpe d'Huez said:
To me the best race so far was Milan-San Remo. Just to see Cavendish sprint from that far back to barely win at the end was astonishing. P-N was indeed good too, to see Contador pushed like that.

Agreed. - best classic and SR of the year
Alpe d'Huez said:
I am not a big Quickstep fan, but you have to admit they won pretty much every race they wanted to. Team of the year so far.
Don't like them either, but you've got to appreciate their dominance this year.
Alpe d'Huez said:
Cervelo has been a pleasant surprise. If Sastre can podium in Rome, they'll really show something.
I think he will. He appears to finally be getting some form. As usual, he will probably be strongest in the final week.
Apr 1, 2009
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Best race: 1. Paris-Roubaix; 2. Milan-Sanremo; 3. Tirreno-Adriatico
Best performance: 1. Boonen at P-R; 2. Andy Schleck at Liege; 3. Cavendish at Milan-Sanremo
Best team: 1. Quickstep; 2. Cervelo; 3. Katusha
Mar 13, 2009
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Best Stage race: Tour of California - I think its underated, but by far the best season starter.

Best Classic- definately, the classics have been great. Liege was the best for me, watching Shleck ride off into the distance was pretty awesome.

Best rider

1 - Lovkvist - really like this guy - Eroica was good, really nice to see him doing ok again
2 - Cavendish - awesome San Remo win
3 - Haussler Been everywhere so far! Looks awesome in black too!

Best Teams
1. Quickstep - dominated pretty much everything!
2 - Cevelo test team
3 - Columbia

Been a great season so far, real competition again, no dominance really! Giro will definately be interesting!

Armstrong this, Armstrong that, Armstrong blah blah blah. Sick of Armstrong. Has he actually done anything no... Until he wins a race or starts to look strong, can we just pretend he is a normal rider and concentrate on all those up and coming riders that are performing very strongly this year!
Apr 28, 2009
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Best race:
1) Paris-Roubiax - I agree that it was too clean, some mud and muck would've been great. But the last 15-20 Km with Flecha, Hoste and Thor going down and Tommeke digging deep for a very deserved win...awesome.
2) Tour of California - The anticipation and lead up made for such a great race to follow. I felt bad for the riders and spectators to have to endure such harsh conditions in the early stages though.

Best Domestic Team (U.S.):
1) BMC - They'll be Pro Tour soon enough
2) KBS - Weren't in ToC, but they're winning everywhere...they'll be one to watch the rest of the season.
HM) Garmin-Felt Devolopment - Probably the best group of U23's assembled in the US

Biggest Surprises:
1) Cervelo Test Team - Wow, talk about representing in every race...and Hienrich Haussler!
2) Tyler Farrar coming around Cav in Tirreno...didn't see that happening either.

Biggest "Not Surprised":
1) Rock Struggling - from a business standpoint, that cycling team is a joke. I feel bad for guys like Baldwin.
2) Contador winning GC in any stage race. He has more than proven that he is the best stage racer in the world right now.

1) CRASHES...is it just me, or does it seem like there have been way more than the normal amount of injuries thus far in the season?
2) Hamilton. I fear for that guy's mental health. The whole situation bums me even more since he was the reigning US National Champ when it happened. Let's hope the winner of the U.S. National Road Race Championship this year is someone who will represent the stars and bars positively in 2010!