We've been looking at individual riders but let's not forget that cycling is very much a team-sport in the end. So let's look at what teams might deserve the title of Team of the Year.
Hard to overlook is the team that totally dominated the Tour de France and most of the major one-week stageraces. They ran out of steam a bit at the Vuelta but had previously had their young Colombian contingent impress at the Giro. So basically they were competitive in every stagerace of the year. Their classics squad was once again underwhelming but they did rack up good wins from their Norwegian boys. All in all there were very few races where Sky were not a factor this year.
The Russian squad really served notice at the Giro Team timetrial that they were not just a bunch of strong riders on paper but actually a functioning team-unit. If the change in management had anything to do with this is hard to say but whatever it was they were working tremendously as a team in 2012. Certainly a lot revolved around the ever impressive Joaquin Rodriguez but Freire, Kristoff, Moreno ,Kolobnev and Paolini made the team visible throughout the year. If Menchov hadn't fallen off the edge of the planet and J-Rod had sealed up one of the two GT's he almost won, they could have been dominant.
No other womens-squad embodied the concept of team like Specialized did this year. They won the the Worlds team timetrial too but that wasn't the most impressive part. The way they raced as a team all year with victories coming from almost all riders is hard to match. They also had a standout year from Evie Stevens and managed to project an aura of always enjoying what they were doing. Veterans Ina Teutenberg and Clara Hughes kept contributing while youngsters like Chloe Hosking and neo Loren Rowney were punching above their weight.
Omega Pharma-Quick Step
The steady old April-only machine of Patric Lefevere has been having trouble firing on all cylinders for years before the 2012 season. But with an influx of money and new blood they came out swinging from day one this year. They were winning races left and right and when a resurrected Tom Boonen won all there was to win on the cobbles basically their season was all but complete already. And while Tony Martin had a bit of a nightmare season he still pulled off two Worlds titles, one of them in a surprisingly dominant win in the Team timetrial perhaps the biggest test of team morale of the year. Around the two bigs you had guys like Terpstra, Chavanel and Kwiatkowski racking up quality results . This was truly a team re-born.
That' my four nominees. Add your own suggestions below in the comments. I dare you to nominate Radioshack.