Personally I have two of the rather obvious ones. First Tour of Flanders, which is a race that basically gets a Podiumcafe nomination as long as it isn’t cancelled due to some freak snowstorm or something (and let’s be honest, even then we’d likely nominate it). This year saw the World Champ Lizzie Armitstead (now married Deignan) take the win and seeing the rainbows take Flanders is always special. In this case she did it in the hardest way possible in a two-up sprint that almost took a photo finish to separate her from Emma Johansson, the almost-flandrienne in her last attempt to win her favorite race. A finale that was equal parts brilliant and heartbreaking, just like cycling should be at its best.
The second race is the Big Kahuna, the Grandmommy of all women’s races, the Olympic road race. For four years it is the focal point of the entire women’s racing scene and the Rio edition was hard, exciting, brutal and fantastic. The course made the race hard, riders were suffering as dogs as the Americans set the pace on the final climb. Pre-race favorites were dropping like flies. Mara Abbott and Annemiek van Vleuten were clearly strongest and got away, Abbott then losing time on the tricky descent that had seen the race leaders crash out in the men’s race and same was to happen here. Van Vleuten overcooked a corner and had what looked like a fatal injury causing the whole world to hold it’s breath. Abbott tried desperately but could not hold off the chasers on her own and had to settle for fourth and a missed medal. Anna van der Breggen bossed the sprint and handed Emma J her second Olympic silver. Insane stuff. (And Van Vleuten thankfully escaped well enough to compete at Worlds a few weeks later ).
What other great races am I missing? Add more nominations in the comments.