2014 will not be a forgettable turn of the calendar. Some years go by in a blur, others stick with you a bit longer. In all cases, it's hard to know what to think, and that remains true, but I can think this about the year that's about to end: you kept us interested.
We sat on the edge of our seats in races of all magnitudes.
- The CX Worlds, when champions past and present staged a struggle for the ages.
- Paris-Nice, when a pudgy mirage of a rider took the honors... by season's end we wondered, did that really happen?
- Tirreno-Adriatico, no longer even slightly overlooked by the stars of summer, staging a battle royale.
- Milano-Sanremo, fickle and fun as ever.
- The Classics, weird and even disappointing at times, but the stunning conclusion of Liege-Bastogne-Liege will not be forgotten soon.
- We saw a young champion crowned for the first time at the Giro, and wondered how many times this scene would be repeated in the coming years... only to have the Vuelta answer: not as much as you might think. Cycling is hard, no matter how talented you are.
- Americans got their thrill on at the Dauphine, when young Talansky gave us something to feel genuinely hopeful about. That hope faded fast in France, but it springs eternal, at least into the rider's late 20s.
- The Tour de France messed with our minds for a week, so much so that little could be done to overturn the new order by the time the race hit Paris. Italian Tour wins recur about as often as Vesuvius erupts.
- New and old world orders clashed spectacularly in the Vuelta a Espana, with Old winning the day, while they still can.
- Polish champions emerged in enigmatic fashion, seizing two of the world's most-loved competition jerseys. And speaking of the Worlds, can you remember being as excited by the men's time trial?
- Pain and patience were rewarded at Lombardia, when hard-luck Dan Martin got the Monumental victory he deserved five months earlier.
- And lastly, at least now we know what we were missing all those years when the Hour Record was considered an artifact of history. It's alive again, and maybe next year it'll reach the heights suggested by the concept: strongest hour rider ever.