Cycling winners and losers of 2011. Who went up, who went down.
It’s that time of year when we look back at the 2010 racing season and pick the winners and losers, the surprise performances and failures, the riders who climbed to new heights and those who fell off the bike and rolled back down the hill scaring the tifosi.
A third Tour de France victory at 28 years old then five months (so far) wondering if he’s gong to keep it. For the Spaniard, the year will be remembered for two things: a rival’s dropped chain and a tainted steak. Plus the stress of the investigation is causing his hair to fall out. The other kids used to call him Pantani — he may end up just as bald as Marco if meat-gate goes for a year. He nails the double: winner and loser.
The so-called Shark stepped up into the special VIP club of Guys Who Might Possibly Mess With Alberto and Andy. His Vuelta win (coupled with his third place in the Giro) showcased a rider who’s tenacious, versatile and calm when bullets are flying. Winner.
A suspicious biological passport with some funny stamps kept him out of competition from the Giro on. Later the Italian Olympic Committee scoffs at WADA and the UCI and says no case, he’s free to ride — but the season is over. Lost year but good lawyer. Loser.
This man is money like old Michael Jordan was with a bouncing ball in the NBA playoffs.Two years straight he dominated the end of season races even when heavily marked. Took his best shot in the Worlds and failed but it sure looked better than Filippo Pozzato wheel-sucking his way to fourth place. Winner.
That’s right, we’re not quite done with him yet. What else would call his final year but bizarre? Floyd Landis doping allegations and a beautiful new daughter named Cinco. Crashed out of the Tour of California but rode onto the podium at the Tour de Suisse and Luxembourg. Then three weeks in France as a crash test dummy. Ohh, and some nasty fed named Novitzky on his behind. Best to stay indoors for a while and eat Honey Stinger waffles. Loser
Great champion, sucky year. He watched helpless as Fabian Cancellara simply motored away from him in his two favorite races, Flanders and Paris-Roubaix. That’s worse than battery acid in the eyes for a Belgian hard-man. A slew of crashes and the season was done. At least the frites and beer were good. Loser
FOR THE REST OF THE WINNES AND LOSER, check out our post for Versus.