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Top 10 Best Moments in Pro Cycling

We celebrate some of the most amazing victories, ballzy breaks and acts of sheer spectacle from the Pro Peloton in 2017

 

10. Contador attacks at Paris-Nice

The 115km final stage of the 'Race to the Sun' started and finished in Nice. A break of five riders went away and other riders bridged across from the peloton to form a group of 22 riders that managed to create a gap of more than two minutes. During the climb of the Cote De Peille, Jarlinson Pantano attacked and took teammate Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo) with him. Yellow jesey leader Sergio Henao (Team Sky) tried unsuccessfully, to stay on his wheel.

During the descent, the duo were joined by 14 others including Diego Ulissi (UAE), Michael Matthews and Sam Oomen (Team Sunweb), Calmejane, De Gendt, and Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrein-Merida). Behind them a very desperate Henao and Team Sky tried to catch the front group and keep the overall victory within sight, but to no avail. During the final climb Contador, David de la Cruz (Quick-Step Floors) and Marc Soler (Movistar) attacked. The chasers led by an isolated Henao saw his lead disappear. Contador was in the virtual yellow jersey wearer with over 1 minute.

A desperate Henao fought back on the final 17km descent and managed to reduce the gap slowly down to 42 seconds then down to 30 seconds. Meanwhile Contador was struggling to time trial to the finish line. De la Cruz jumped Contador in the final kilometre and took the stage victory, denying the Spaniard the first place in the General Classification.

Sergio Henao took the overall victory by only two seconds.

Contador was clearly disappointed but lit up the race, attacked at gave it everything and nearly succeeded, another balzy attack by Contador.

VIDEO: 2017 Paris-Nice Stage 8 Final Kilometers

 

9. Vincenzo Nibali wins Il Lombardia

The last monument of the season was 247 kilometres long between Bergamo and Como, in Lombardy. Italian Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) soloed the last 10 kms ahead of Julian Alaphilippe and Gianni Moscon, to take his second victory at the race of the falling leaves, his 50th win.

Six riders established an early breakaway and created a gap of more than ten minutes to the peloton. Behind team Sky and Bahrain-Merida set the pace and caught the breakaway with around 60 kilmetres to go. Several attacks took place. Laurens De Plus took a wide curve and ended up going over guardrail. Four doctors attended the Quick-Step Floors rider, and it was confirmed that he didn't suffer serious injuries.

After many attacks with 19 kms to go attacks were reeled in by the chasing peloton, "groupo compacto". Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) attacked and Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) bridged across, the pair rode away. On the descent of the penultimate climb, the Shark used his descending skills to create a gap on Pinot which he nevered closed.

Behind Rigoberto Uran chased the pair but couldn't close the gap and then was dropped on the final climb. Julian Alaphillipe (Quick-Step Floors) attacked to try to catch Nibali on the final descent, but the gap of 40 seconds was enough for Nibali to solo across the finish line and win his second victory at Lombardia. Behind, Alaphilippe finished second ahead of Gianni Moscon in third.

"It was a perfect day" , said Vincenzo "I was still better than two years ago and I think you have seen it. In the last flat part my speed was over 50 km / h and so it was not easy to come and catch me. For me, it was number 50 win and I wanted to point out at the finish line. I got a great support from my team - concludes - I had great physical condition from the end of the season, but everyone was looking to me as the favorite so it was not easy to win."

VIDEO: 2017 Il Lombardia Highlights


8. Philippe Gilbert solos to Tour of Flanders Victory

Philippe Gilbert returned to the Ronde van Vlaanderen for the first time in five years and in doing so he forever left his mark on the race which this year celebrated its 101st edition.

The Belgian Champion, who joined Quick-Step Floors at the end of last season, attacked with more than 50 kilometers to go, on the long and iconic Oude Kwaremont, leaving behind the group which emerged on another legendary climb, Muur-Kapelmuur, with 95 kilometers remaining, where Tom Boonen upped the tempo as they rode over the hill’s steepest climb, forcing a split which turned out to be decisive.

The day was a historical one for the Belgian Champion, who became only the fourth ever rider to win during his career the World Championships, Ronde van Vlaanderen, Liège–Bastogne–Liège and Il Lombardia, a tremendous feat: “When I approached the final kilometer, I looked behind and saw the chasers were still a long way back and thought of a nice way of celebrating my success. "That’s why I raised my bike over my head, because it was an important part of my victory. I’m really proud of how I managed today’s race and of what I achieved!”

Philippe Gilbert’s triumph and Niki Terpstra’s third place at the finish in Oudenaarde helped Quick-Step Floors – who racked up the 15th Monument win since the squad’s inception in 2003.

 
 

7. Warren Barguil wins on the Col d'Izoard at the Tour

Warren Barguil from Team Sunweb continued his superb Tour de France with a summit finish victory on the Col d’Izoard, securing his place at the top of the mountains classification. It' was the second stage win for Barguil after winning stage 13 on Bastille Day.

Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale) edged himself even closer to the yellow jersey by finishing third, in front of Chris Froome who finished in fourth place.

Chris Froome survived the day in Yellow as Bardet took time on both Froome and Uran on stage 18.Chris Froome (Team Sky) led the race by 23 seconds ahead of Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale), and 29 seconds ahead of Rigoberto Uran (Cannondale Drapac), and went on to win the race.

France celebrated, and Barguil's stage data was one of the most Kudos'd rides on Strava.

VIDEO: 2017 Tour de France Stage 18 Finish

 

6. Peter Sagan attacks at Milan-San Remo

After a long day in the saddle,  the break was caught just after the start of the climb of the Cipressa as the favorites teams, upped the speed to over 60 kph.

Mark Cavendish was seen being brought to the front by Dimension Data to be in contention after the climb but to no avail. Cavendish was dropped before the top. The peloton was shattered at this point with only around 30 riders left in contention. Tom Dumoulin was determined to shake off some of the top sprinters as the Sunweb rider set a high pace on the Poggio, the last climb of the day.

The moment the Dutchman gave up, Peter Sagan put in a massive attack just before the top of the Poggio and only Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors) and Kwiatkowski could follow. The gaps quickly opened up to 18 seconds as the Peloton struggled top cope with the attack and organize a chase.

Sagan was a marked man and neither Alaphilippe or Kwiatkowski would put in a turn in the final kilometer. With the bunch closing down, Sagan had no choice but top open up the sprint and gap a gap but Alaphilippe and Kwiatkowski closed it down and Kwiatkowski just edged ahead of Sagan on the line.

Sagan's reputed 1400 Watt attack blew the race apart.

VIDEO: 2017 Milan San Remo Final 20 Kilometres

 

5. Tom Dumoulin wins his first Grand Tour

Tom Dumoulin won the 2017 Giro d'Italia after Nail Biting final Time Trial. The 26 year old SunWeb rider clawed back over 53 seconds, as Dutch compatriot Jos van Emden, LottoNL-Jumbo won the final time trial from Monza to Milan. Dumoulin becomes the first Dutchman to win the Giro d'Italia.

It was a nerve racking, nail biting finale, that came down to the wire! As riders set off in reverse order, it was Jos van Emden from LottoNL-Jumbo who set the fastest time of 33m 8 secs. Before the start, Dumoulin needed to beat Quintana by 53 seconds, Vincenzo Nibali 39 secs and Thibaut Pinot 43 secs to win back the Maglia Rosa, it was going to be very close!

Tom Dumoulin set a very fast time at the first checkpoint, only 2 seconds slower than the fastest time set by Jos van Emden. Nairo Quintana was 33 seconds down at the first checkpoint, Dumoulin got over half his 53 seconds deficit back at the first time check. Tom Dumoulin set the 2nd fastest time of 33m 23s just behind fellow Dutchman Jos van Emden. Vincenzo Nibali set a time of 34m 17s and took third place overall.

Nairo Quintana lost more and more time as Dumoulin looked on anxiously and by the final time check, he was around 13 seconds down on Dumoulin, and took second overall.  Fernando Gaviria from Quick-Step Floors took the Sprinters points jersey, Mikel Landa, Team Sky, took the KOM jersey and Bob Jungels beat Adam Yates to win the young riders White jersey.

VIDEO: 2017 Giro d'Italia Stage 21 Highlights

 

4. Greg Van Avermaet wins his first Monument at Paris-Roubaix

BMC Racing's in form cycling star fought back after a crash to win his first Monument at Paris-Roubaix. Greg out sprinted companions Zdenek Stybar and Sebastian Langeveld on the hallowed boards of the Roubaix Velodrome after Gianni Moscon and Arnaud Demare caught them just before the line.

On sector 28 there was an almightly crash as Greg Van Avermaet was seen with an allen key doing up his stem before he crashed. It looks as if the cobbles were shaking his bike to pieces - quite literally. He was seriously in a panic when he went down, but was up and running quickly, but had lost over a minute to the peloton containing all the favorites. When van Avermaet went down, Tom Boonen put the hammer down hopefully trying to leave one of his main rivals behind.  

It took van Avermaet a huge fight to get back into the peloton after the Arenberg Trench which didn't see it's usual carnage, mainly due to the good weather.

Around the 70 kilometer mark Peter Sagan (Bora-hansgrohe) made a move with his teammate Maciej Bodnar and managed to position himself at the front of the race along with Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo) and Daniel Oss (BMC). But the world champion punctured after which both he and his teammate were caught by the peloton. The duo rode on together until 45 kilometers from the finish. Three riders Jurgen Roelands (Lotto-Soudal), Dimitri Claeys (Cofidis) and Gianni Moscon (Team Sky) jumped from the main bunch to join them at the front.

Tom Boonen (Quick-Step Floors) chased the move down with, Jens Keukeleire (Orica-Scott), Sebastian Langeveld, van Baarle (Cannondale-Drapac), Sagan, van Avermaet and John Degenkolb (Trek-Segafredo).

Soon after that BMC racing's Oss showed that he still had the legs to escape and went away solo getting a gap of more than 30 seconds. Behind him the peloton split and Van Avermaet, Stybar, Langeveld, Roelandts, Stuyven and Moscon went on the chase. He was eventually caught. After the last cobbled section of Carrefour de l’Arbre only Langeveld, Van Avermaet and Stybar remained.

The there riders entered the velodrome and slowed down only to be caught by Moscon and Stuyven. Moscon was the first to accelerate, followed by Stybar. Stybar had a good advantage, incredibly Van Avermaet still had some matches to burn, making a last big sprint effort, he came round Stybar just before the finish line.

The first monument for the Olympic gold medalist, who has already won Gent-Wevelgem, E3 Harelbeke and Omloop Het Nieuwsblad classics that season.

It was the fastest Paris Roubaix ever, at an average speed of 45 kph.

2017 Paris Roubaix Highlights


3. Peter Sagan makes it three World Championships in a row

Slovak rider found himself in the perfect position to take his record-breaking third UCI World Championship, confirming his status as a cycling legend
It all came down to this. After a season of hard racing came one of the most important races of the year, where countries would fight it out among themselves to decide who would wear the coveted stripes of the UCI World Champion. Having worn the jersey for the past two years, it looked as though Peter Sagan might have to relinquish his grip on the Rainbow Stripes, with a break leading to the final kilometre. As the last few bends came into view though, the Slovak rider found himself in the perfect position to take his record-breaking third UCI World Championship, confirming his status as a cycling legend.

The finale was close for so many reasons, and Peter was quick to confirm that it was a tough finish. “It wasn’t easy! The last 5km, I said to myself it was already done – it’s gone. Then it changed in the front, then I tried to go in the breakaway, and then Gaviria tried to close the gap after which we managed to get it all back together for a sprint. It’s unbelievable. I’m sorry for Kristoff – he’s racing at home after all – but I’m very happy to win again. Three UCI World Championships – it’s special for sure. It doesn’t change anything, but it’s really special.”

 

2. Contador says farewell with a win on the Angliru

It's the stuff of legends! In the ultimate mountain stage of the 2017 Vuelta a Espana, with rain making for a treacherous race, Alberto Contador, as he has done hundreds of times in his career, attacked.

After following teammate Jarlinson Pantano's acceleration on the slick and dangerous descent ahead of the 12-kilometer climb that ended stage 20, Contador set off at the bottom and by the top of the iconic ascent had added one final, glorious stamp to his amazing passport of palmarès.

Contador's celebration will be his last, and certainly, it will be one of his most meaningful. It has been a roller coaster ride in his final season, never achieving what he hoped for, but only legends can rise to the occasion in the last opportunity, and Contador did just that with a fantastic and historic win atop the Angliru.

Contador said: "The truth is it has been a very, very special day. I think it’s very difficult to say good bye in a better way than this, in this place, in this event. In the end, it's a full stop at the end of a career in which I have done everything I wanted. I think it's been a beautiful Vuelta even though I am not on the podium. But perhaps if I had been in contention for the overall podium I would have ridden in a different way, more conservative, and instead I have ridden the race I have ridden - I look at the photos, and almost every day there are pictures of me alone because I have been on the attack."

Contador fell short of the final podium by 20 seconds, but it mattered little – he finished his career on top, and he did it in the only way he knows how. It was a thrilling show of panache as he fought his way up the Angliru in front of thousands of home country fans, and when he pointed his famous gesture for the final time as he crossed the line, it gave goosebumps to even the most stoic.

"In the end, we couldn't take the podium, but this is not what's important," added Contador. "What's important is to take the victory of the stage and finish with this result for the rest of my life."

All this was made possible by the warriors surrounding Contador. His teammates pulled in the first half of the short 117.5-kilometer stage to keep an 18-man breakaway in check, keeping them at roughly one minute. When the climbing started his trusted lieutenant, Pantano, went to work. Pantano not only paced Contador up the ascents but also led him safely down the other side, crucial on the final slick descent where numerous crashes occurred. It was here that the pair created a gap on the rivals, which opened the door for his last attack.

"Today's attack was different because it was an attack on the descent. It's unusual in the history of cycling for this on a dangerous descent, but Jarlinson attacked, and I went with him," he added.

The gap was all they needed. Pantano threw everything he had left into the first part of the Angliru, emptying himself to a standstill, and Contador finished his work, paying back his team with a victory, and giving the fans a farewell to remember.

"I have been able to enjoy the affection of all the people who say thank you to me. It's been a remarkable month, unforgettable," ended Contador. "I think in the future it'll be remembered that in my last day of competition, I finished it with a win."

VIDEO: 2017 Vuelta a Espana Final Kilometre, Farewell Bertie!

 

1. Valverde donates his prize money to the Scarponi family

Valverde out-sprinted Dan Martin in the final metres of Liege-Bastogne-Liege to take his fourth win in the final Spring Classics race.

Valverde dedicated his win to Michele Scarponi who sadly died that week after be hit by a van whilst training near his home in Italy. Valverde said before the race that he would donate the prize money should he win and in an emotional interview said he would dedicate his winnings from the whole week to the Scarponi family after winning La Fleche Wallonne earlier that week to. 

Very early on in the race a breakaway of 8 riders, after the second climb of the day, second climb of Cote de Sant-Roch, Movistar's domestique's and Team Sky started the chase. Movistar working really hard for Valverde, with 48 kms to go the lead was down to 6m 15m and the breakaway must have started to think they could stay away.

With 36 kms to go there were a huge number of attacks, but peloton brougt the attack back except for Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal). Stéphane Rossetto (Cofidis) is only 10 seconds away with 10 km to go. The final climb of the Cote de Saint-Nicolas came with 5.5 kms to go.

Davide Formillo from Cannondale attackeds with 4.5 kms to go and there are only 25 riders left in the peloton including Michal Kwiatkowski, Valverde, Van Avermaet and Bardet. With 1 km to go, Dan Martin put in a huge attack but Yates started to close it down.

Valverde attacked and caught Dan Martin. Valverde outsprinted Martin again to take his fourth LBL title.

Alejandro Valverde said after the race “This victory is a tribute to Michele Scarponi. I was close friends with him and it made me really, really sad to see him go pass away so young, in such tragic circumstances. I just couldn't believe it when I saw the news. It wasn't just me, but the whole team, the whole cycling world. All prizes I get here today will go to his family."

"It's a historical win - to be honest, it was a perfect week for us, even though it was so hard to get the victory today. Just like we did Wednesday at Flèche Wallonne, we took command of the race from the very beginning, yet there was a moment we left the front for other teams to take their turns, because the break was a big one and it would have been much more difficult to bring it back without help. Everyone was on the limit today."

VIDEO: 2017 Leige-Bastogne-Leige Highlights