In a year when many of us deserved a little escapism, pro cycling didn’t disappoint. With most of the Classics and all three Grand Tours forced to occupy the same few months towards the end of the summer and into autumn, this year gave us some of the most exciting and unpredictable racing we have ever seen.
Ineos fell apart at the Tour, only to see rivals Jumbo-Visma get jumped by a 22-year old Tadej Pogačar. Racing against the coming of winter and a public health crisis, at times the Giro looked unlikely to make it to Milan. Yet, in the end, Tao Geoghegan Hart led it home to produce a Grand Tour win that only looks better the more you replay it. Finally, at a shortened Vuelta, Primož Roglič resisted falling apart at the last moment (for a second time) to secure a redemptive win.
In the one day races, Wout van Aert, Mathieu van der Poel, and Julian Alaphilippe each took big wins. Van Aert got in early at the long-postponed Milan Sanremo, Alaphilippe took the World Championships, only for a crash at the Tour of Flanders to leave van Aert and van der Poel free to fight each other almost to a standstill.
When the women’s calendar resumed, Annemiek van Vleuten continued her rampaging run, winning a fifth consecutive race in the World Champion's jersey at Strade Bianche. Consistently brilliant all season, Lizzie Deignan took a stand out win at Liège-Bastogne-Liège Femmes on her way to an overall win in the UCI Women's WorldTour standings, while Anna van der Breggen doubled up at the World Championships, winning the time-trial, before escaping early to emphatically win her second set of rainbow stripes.
Tour de Pologne
Teammates help Dylan Groenewegen to his feet. He’d be banned for the rest of the season following the crash he caused during the opening stage of the Tour de Pologne which saw Fabio Jakobsen seriously injured. Groenewegen’s 9-month ban, most agree, is a hugely problematic and rather unjust one.
Strade BiancheLaPresse - Marco Alpozzi
Gian Mattia D’Alberto - LaPresse
When racing restarted Annemiek van Vleuten picked up where she left off – winning a fifth consecutive race in the World Champion's jersey.
Marco Alpozzi - LaPresse
La Primavera in August. Julian Alaphilippe kicks it off on the Poggio but Wout Van Aert wins the year’s first Monument.
Tour de France
Persistence paid off for a perma-battling Marc Hirschi who secured a popular win on Stage 12.
Race leader Primož Roglič watches his young friend Tadej Pogačar take Stage 15. Pogačar took seconds, but on the penultimate stage time-trial, he’d take almost two minutes, along with Roglič’s yellow jersey.
Sam Bennett took the Green Jersey that Peter Sagan had made his own on seven previous occasions.
Vital Concept’s Kevin Reza makes a stand before the final stage into Paris.
Giro d'Italia Internazionale Femminile
Lizzy Banks winning Stage 4. With the overall title won by Anna van der Breggen, Marianne Vos took three stage wins, yet finished just outside the top them.
Arnaud Démare elects to skip the Tour and is without compare at the Giro winning four stages.
Listening to Alex Dowsett explain how he hoped his stage win might secure him a job for the coming season resonated in a year when many of us have worried about paying the bills.
Gian Mattia D'Alberto - LaPresse
Denuded of his Green jersey, and with younger puncheurs making the headlines, on a rainy Tuesday Sagan reminded everyone he’s still capable of amazing things.
Snow on the Stelvio
Atop Sestriere, Stage 20. The fact he’s about to win a Grand Tour sinks in for young Londoner Geoghegan Hart.
Following wins at La Course and GP Plouay, Lizzie Deignan adds a second Monument to her 2016 win at de Ronde, helping her tie up an overall win in the UCI Women's World Tour.
Tour of Flanders
MvdP vs WvA. Having gone from perpetual underdog to firm favourite, Wout van Aert comes within centimetres of beating long-time rival Mathieu van der Poel at the Ronde.
Attacking on the penultimate climb, Chantal van den Broek-Blaak managed to increase her lead on the flat run back into Oudenarde, finishing with the chasers well out of shot.
Having already won the time-trial after the USA’s Chloe Dygert crashed, Anna van der Breggen elected to ride a second time trial in the road race. Going off the front with 41-kilometres remaining, she had the last lap to herself before winning by well over a minute.
A win in the Worlds Champions and three stages at the Giro for Filippo Ganna.
A year of wins, loses, and controversies. Julian Alaphilippe will spend next year in the stripes having found no one able to match him on the final climb of the Imola World Champs.
Vuelta a España
Chris Froome returns to Grand Tour racing. Riding for Ineos for the last time in support of team leader Richard Carapaz.
Say it like it is. Hugh Carthy tweets that he’s probably the best climber in the race after dropping everyone up the Angliru.
Having lost the Tour de France on the penultimate stage Roglič looked in danger of repeating the pattern when Carapaz escaped on the last climb of a shortened Vuelta.
For the Covid-19 crisis, for a new generation of young riders, and for a year of passionate and unpredictable racing, there's no doubt that 2020 in cycling will be remembered for many decades to come.