To Americans the obvious candidate is the eternally smiling Evie Stevens. Results-wise she has exploded on the scene this year winning a World Cup, (the Fleche Wallonne by beating Vos in a straight-up fight up the Mur), no less than four stageraces and a Worlds gold as a part of the Specialized-lululemon Timetrial team. Add to that a silver in the Worlds TT and a podium in the GiroDonne. In any normal circumstances she'd be a solid candidate for the ROTY title.
Incredibly, in her last season, the German veteran managed to pull off wins in Quatar, Ronde van Vlaanderen, both road and TT Nats, Thüringen Rundfahrt and to crown the season, the Worlds timetrial. Who in their right mind retires after a season like that? A truly truly great rider who will be sorely missed.
Beyond the three bigs we had a rider like Shelley Olds who got in a tough spot as 4th(?) sprinter on an AA Drinks that swelled as Garmin chickened out of the sport late last season. She still managed to win a World Cup in Chongming and a Giro stage. Had she not suffered the worst kind of luck she would have had an Olympic medal too. There's also Elisa Longo Borghini who might be the biggest improver besides Evie, grabbing a White jersey at the Giro, bronze at Worlds and at the U23 Euro champs. Olympic gold-medalist Kristin Armstrong also had a great season despite a broken collarbone at the Exergy Tour.
Who else deserves to be on the shortlist this year?