My Top 6 Pro Races of 2018

Its that time of year we look back and reflect on things we’ve seen and done. I love watching pro-racing. As much as it can be formulaic and predictable sometimes, it occasionally creates some edge of the seat stuff. 2018 was no exception.

Here are my Top 6 of the year in no particular order

Tiesj Benoot wins Strada Bianche
Its a unique race over white gravel roads in Northern Italy but when it rains its guaranteed to be an epic. This edition didn’t disappoint. In the finale, Bardet was away with Van Aert. Benoot was originally in a chase group of two. He soloed upto the leaders then dropped them for a stunning victory in Siena but the race may be remembered for Van Aert’s ride to a standstill in the last km suffering from cramp. The images of Benoot caked in mud just added to the drama.

Van Vleuten’s comeback at La Course
Van der Breggen looked like she had it in the bag. Van Vleuten was closing in with a km to go but it still seemed too much of a gap to close. 500m to go it was 50/50 and then she found something from somewhere to pass her literally metres from the line and take one of the most exciting finishes to a women’s race I’ve ever seen.

Froomes incredible attack the the Giro
Up until Stage 19 of the race it just hadn’t been the commanding Sky/Froome dominant performance we were probably expecting. His early crash had obviously affected him. The race was still there to be taken. What we know now is Sky went all-in, meticulously planned and delivered, for me, one of the greatest comebacks in the modern era. An absolutely staggering stage. I wrote a blog on it at the time (Is Froomedog a dog?) as the nature of what he did drew comparisons with Landis and the 2006 Tour de France.

Sagan takes Paris-Roubaix, Dillier does the ride of his life
Paris-Roubaix always has a story to tell. Its unique. Its special and will always be a highlight of any viewers year just because of what it is. Brutal theatre. The 2018 edition was no different with the enigma that is Peter Sagan taking a stunning victory. As with any monument or tour though, they generate stories elsewhere in the race. Crashes, chases, attacks. Sagan beat Dillier in a two-up sprint but arguably the ride of the day was Dillier’s as he’d been in the break of the day. What a ride!

Valverde takes the Elite World Road Race
I loved this race for the course. Partly because I got to ride it on Zwift! but it was probably going to be the toughest Worlds course for years. Its always a long attritional race but with the amount of climbing on every lap we were going to see a new champion crowned. The last climb was brutal yet a fascinating watch. The strongest surged ahead, the weaker walked. Unbelievable stuff. Watching Valverde, Bardet and Woods go toe to toe and then Dumoulin chase and catch them, it was almost a fairytale ending. Although Valverde has his history and his critics, I don’t mind he won because I like the attacking type of rider he is.

Nibali attacks on the Poggio to take Milan- San Remo
No other race builds to a crescendo like this one. 15 minutes of incredible racing saw Nibali attack on the Poggio and then descend like a stone and hold it on the Via Roma to take the first monument of the year. Awesome riding and technical ability from The Shark. It was shame he crashed out the Tour in July later on in the year. I think it could have been one of his best.

There you go. My Top 6 of the year. What are yours?

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