With so many different types of races on the calendar we sort of try and get around the difficulties to compare by voting for best "race-day" rather than "race". That means we look to the individual stages and one-day races.
There are so many different ways a race can be thrilling to me. Of course there are the thrilling races where the uncertain, and in the best cases surprising, outcome is the key element. To me, Omloop Het Nieuwsblad was such a day with Sep Vanmarcke living up to all the hype we have built up around him here. With strong riding all day he put himself in a top group with veterans Flecha and Boonen and then outsmarted them in a tense finale. A brilliant start to the season that also set up all sorts of storylines for the rest of the Classics spring.
Then there are the epic days where the Grand Tours are decided in the the most beautiful settings possible, the high mountains. The day when Ryder Hesjedal and his teammates practically secured the Giro win on the Passo dello Stelvio had pretty much everything you could ask of a GT stage. With all eyes on Ryder and Rodriguez, Thomas de Gendt pulled off one of the most devastating sneak attacks we've seen. Opening up a small gap on the top of the Mortirolo that no one thought too much of, he then slowly slipped away to where it became dangerous. And then on the Stelvio, instead of faltering he rode like a man possessed, almost putting himself in the race lead. If it hadn't been for some strong teamwork by Garmin and a lot of grinta from Hesjedal and Rodriguez, De Gendt could have turned the Giro on it's head in one massive escape. In the end he didn't but the battle he sparked made sure the organizers and fans got all they could have wanted from the grand finale stage.
Sometimes expected winners is the dullest thing in a sporting event. In London, at the women's Olympic road race, the win by favorite Marianne Vos was anything but one of those dull moments. In wet and miserable conditions Vos formed the winning break with Shelley Olds, Olga Zabelinskaya and home-favorite Lizzie Armitstead and it was soon game over for those who missed that move. Olds then suffered the worst fate possible, flatting out of a given medal-chance. With Vos driving the break, somewhat aided by the brit, all was set for a great finish and even though Vos was untouchable in the end it was brilliant to see the worlds most dominant cyclist win the title on the biggest day for women's cycling. Sometimes you just feel privileged to witness greatness in action and history being made.
So those three are my nominees, please add your's in the comments. What day of racing will you best remember 2012 for?