The Vélo d'Or, THE end of season award in cycling, was just won by The Accountant for the second year in a row. I happen to love this award as I love all of these types of end of season awards that are decided by journalists. To me these types of awards (MVP awards, Golden Boot for Euro soccer player of the year, etc.) tracked over the years, tends to give a good snapshot of who is dominating their given sport during any time period.
But these awards show more than just which player is at the top of his/her game, they also show a maturity in the sport, and a sense that the sport has a certain level of infrastructure in the society that its based in. That Velo magazine can get a bunch of cycle journalists from different countries to vote for rider of the year is not as simple as it sounds. It implies that there is sufficient interest in the sport from the public allowing the publication and selling of enough cycling magazines in turn providing jobs for enough journalists who can concentrate on following the sport we love 24/7.
The history of the Golden Bike also shows that cycling is a new sport. Its much younger than the larger, more established sports, going back only to '92. Yeah I know that various races are 100 years old or more. Most every sport today goes back 100 years or more, sometimes much more. But there's always a gap between when the sport was first thought up and having the infrastructure built so that millions of people can enjoy watching the best participants excel and for cycling that gap is quite long. And its interesting that In spite of the doping scandals, cycling has seriously grown in the past 50 years, allowing it to move beyond a provincial Euro thing to a worldwide sport, followed by millions. And it continues to grow as blogs like this one attest. Speaking of blogs...
Having said these high faluttin words, the Golden Bike of course comes after our award of Rider of the Year and its interesting to see how closely we agree once you throw out the differences between the awards: The Podium Cafe voting included women cyclists, while Velo magazine's award includes cross, track, and mountain bikers as well- but no women evidently. Here's how the voting went for both awards:
|Velo Mag Ranking||Velo Points||Podium Cafe Ranking||PdC Points|
|2. Cancellara||47||2. Cancellara||114|
|3. Sastre||36||3. Cavendish||48|
|4. Valverde||34||4. Vandevelde||20|
|5. Cavendish||31||5. Valverde||16|
|6. Ballan||21||6. Cunego||14|
|7. Cunego||8||7. Gilbert||10|
|8. Boonen||6||8. Sastre||7|
|9. Gilbert||4||9. Ballan||1|
Obviously PdC has an America/English bias; that's to be expected. Otherwise the voting is similar. Maybe they just copied us. ;)
So who might win next year?