Hey all, just trying to crawl out of a rather extensive, and fairly typical, end of summer work cave. It’s not as dark as the cycling pain cave, and I can definitely justify a frosty brew at the end of each such effort, but in other respects the parallels to professional cycling are... well they aren’t zero anyway.
It’s certainly been another thrilling season, with a very unique twist to it. I am glad I didn’t have time to write about MeRgEr MaNiA while it was still on the table, since it ended up not happening (for now), but there is no question that the dominant theme for the season has been single-team dominance, on the part of Jumbo Visma of course.
In our minds the Flying Dutchmen and their international cast of Grand Tour champions owned the year, in 2009 HTC-like fashion, but it’s not quite like that. The Jumbos did lead the world in wins, with 66 total, but just barely ahead of Quick Step and UAE, and in fact UAE currently leads in total points, at our PDC-generated rankings (via the FSA Directeur Sportif), as well as at the Cycling Quotient and PCS rankings. Percentage-wise the gap to second-ranked Jumbo is closest at our rankings, about a 5% difference, versus more like 9-10% at the other two. If these rankings feel like we are being collectively gaslit by the sport, well, cycling is forever kinda weird, but maybe a more specific message is that it’s an everyday job, whether it’s happening under the brightest lights or the darkest shadows, and everyone relishes a win. Oh and Marc Hirschi says hi too. Sheesh.
Want to know what a great season really looks like? Jumbo ‘23 is one version, and its polar opposite probably remains HTC ‘09, where the GerMerican squad racked up 85 FUCKING WINS!!! — nearly double the second-ranked Saxo Bank — en route to ... just barely squeaking out a 600-point overall gap in total points. [Probably toss in some Mapei or Renault seasons here too if you want to carry on, but let’s stay more recent.] When it comes to wins, there is an ancient debate of quantity versus quality, and these two historic seasons represent the extreme examples of each. But neither team literally dominated the points rankings in the process. Cycling just always has so many moving parts.
I don’t want to drone on about 2023 right now, we have a lot to cover with the season’s end, including FSA DS results, but I want to issue our annual call for nominations for our 2023 Awards. Recall, the categories are as follows:
- 2023 Men’s Rider of the Year
- 2023 Men’s Race Day of the Year
- 2023 Women’s Rider of the Year
- 2023 Women’s Race Day of the Year
No particular criteria, that’s for you to decide, as this is forever a subjective poll. I would only note that race “day” means what it sounds like, stage races on the whole are not eligible, though if you are excited about a stage race — as I am sure most of us were — then picking the day that summed it all up for you is a great one for the nominations.
PLEASE go to comments and send me your nominations! Early next week I will declare the nominations sufficient to launch the polls themselves, and then we will vote our awards. Obviously the World Champions, Grand Tour winners and Monument winners are most or all expected to show up in the polls. For race days, those will be starting points there too. But please do get creative and go beyond the obvious to identify people or events that moved you as a cycling fan. Feel free to elaborate here in comments — if the case for that person or day isn’t obvious, make it here and now! My experience is that once the polls are posted people vote first and peruse comments later.
Thank you all for another great year! I can’t always be here as much as I would like right now, but probably next year will be a bit more open. Thanks as always to Jens for his constant and much-appreciated dedication to posting forums for pretty much every race day of any importance, Men’s and Women’s sides. Thanks as always to UMWolverine for her work in comments every day! And to both for updating results in the DS too. Thank you all for the roles you play as community members, this has always been and shall remain a community effort where your ideas, thoughts and passions drive the site as much as any official work that the Editors do. I’ve been saying for a bit that 2024 could be the ultimate showdown on some of the biggest stages, and I had better stop tying right now before I get myself prematurely spun up about it. As the kids say... LFG!!