So, the season kinda lowkey ended yesterday morning. Just putting that out there. More specifically, it ended when Fabio Jakobsen’s front wheel crossed the timing chip in Guilin, how fitting indeed that the victory of a Quick-Step rider would put 2018 to bed, but I the headline of this article is directed at the fact that the 2018 road cycling season finished with an overall victory for Gianni Moscon. Now, Moscon is not the devil. He has, however, not done anything that has or should endear him to the cycling community at large. So as the season ends for real, there’s a slight twinge of disappointment I can’t help feeling.
Disappointment will be there for countless riders. It will be there for Tom Dumoulin. Second in the Giro, second in the Tour, second again in the Worlds ITT and just off the podium in the road race is a summary of a phenomenal season, yet he could only manage two actual wins all season long and despite the fact that his 2018 season is more impressive than his previous year when considered as a physical feat, when the rubber meets the road it was a less successful one. Next season’s Giro is setting up to suit his style of riding very well, but I want to see him at the Tour. At this time last season I said I wanted to see him line up in France. I got my wish, but not in the way I wanted. Surely now Dumoulin has moved beyond the Giro, something that can and must be done. Pushing a tilt at the Tour back and back is tempting fate to extreme levels. He must surely go to Brussels with all guns blazing in 2019.
Also disappointed may be Fernando Gaviria. While two stages of the Tour de France would be considered the crowning achievement of most careers this is in fact an underachievement for the Colombian hotshot. His capitulation in the Alps along with everyone else with comparable biceps is probably an anomaly which will not be replicated but two Grand Tour stages is less than I think we all expected. He seems to be staying with Quick-Step or [sigh] Deceuninck for the next year after a few iffy contract negotiations with UAE, so his career isn’t going down that particular swanny, but his aim must be to take control of what is a very open sprint field in 2019.
The Tour route’s out on Thursday, while I’m on disappointments...
How disappointing is it, also, that I can say that the season’s ended when some bored riders cruise over the line in the cycling hotbed of Guangxi? This isn’t a new take, or even a particularly controversial one, but cycling is one of the few sports that steers well clear of fireworks in its bookends. We generally expect the biggest fans of this sport to reject that the season has started when it clearly has. In soccer, the season has a fanfare to start and a finale to end. People seem to like that. People seem to like soccer. This is surely something that can be taken from it. The season can’t be allowed to end at a new race that nobody has both heard of and cared about. It’s sponsored by a brand called Gree, for goodness’ sake. Gree isn’t anything to do with a respectable bike race, it’s the name of an alien in a low-budget film. And we do not need any more of those.
Of course, those disappointments are nothing, a billionaire’s tut-tut as he drops a fiver, in comparison to the struggles of those who have lost out on a contract. Larry Warbasse and Conor Dunne rode through the Alps to raise awareness that they were on the hunt for a contract. Warbasse, an American champion and handy rider, found one with AG2R. Dunne, the holder of the Irish title, was not so lucky. It’s not just him, of course. Rosters are filling up and money is running out, with the end result being that some people we’re used to seeing in the pro peloton won’t have jobs next year.
A final disappointment is a selfish one — me. As the season ended, I realised how little of the latter part I had seen. I didn’t see Simon Yates climb to Vuelta victory in Andorra. I flicked on and off the World ITT championships on my desk-bound laptop. Mind you, I saw the whole Tour, and I think missing so much else made me value it. Believe me when I say that I can’t wait to really get my teeth back into this great sport when it all starts back up again. The sooner the better.