2015 has been yet another huge year in the world of cycling – so much so that we almost lost track of the highlights. Luckily we didn’t quite do that, and instead we’ve compiled the moments we feel defined the sport this year for you to revisit below.
Chris Froome wins the 2015 Tour de France
It’s been a big year for British pro cyclists, and for none more so than Chris Froome. Over 22 days this summer he not only proved himself King of the Mountains, but shrugged off heavy abuse, accusations and wayward cups of urine along the way to cross the line victorious in Paris. Team Sky have since released his TdF performance data in a bid for greater transparency, and while that hasn’t completely silenced skeptics, Froome has certainly won plenty of new fans for the way he conducted himself throughout the gruelling 2015 season.
Lizzie Armitstead rides to triumph at the UCI Road World Championships
Yorkshire’s Lizzie Armitstead could barely suppress her joy at crossing the line first in Richmond, Virginia a few months ago, giving her supporters back home an image to treasure. Despite seeming out of contention in the penultimate lap of the 2015 UCI Road World Championships, she deployed some track-honed tactics to reel in her rivals and launch a series of attacks which saw her finish the job in front of Dutchwoman Anna van der Breggen. Check out her 2016 S-Works Amira with rainbow-flecked custom paint job.
Road disc brakes are cleared for pro peloton
This was (predictably) one of our biggest stories of 2015, and sparked huge amounts of discussion below the line and on social media. After a successful debut for disc brakes in 2015, the UCI decided to permit them for every rider and every race in 2016. If this wider phase of testing is deemed a success, disc brakes will become legal across the sport from 2017. Whether they’ll be widely adopted by pros however remains a different matter.
Bradley Wiggins smashes the Hour Record
Sir Wiggins may have had a so-so final season for Sky, but in the livery of Team Wiggins he dismantled the Hour Record set by former teammate Alex Dowsett just a month earlier. Dowsett managed 52.937km in May, and Wiggins blasted past that mark in front of cheering crowds at London’s Lee Valley VeloPark to chalk up 54.526km. Next year, his eyes will be firmly on the track in Rio.
Vincenzo Nibali is expelled from La Vuelta for holding onto a team car
From highs to lows – Italy’s Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) was ejected from this year’s Vuelta a España after TV helicopter pictures clearly showed that he held onto a team car while chasing back onto the pack following a crash on stage 2. Our sister site Cyclingnews quoted race commissaries Bruno Valcic as saying: “The film is very clear, it shows that Nibali has put his hand on the car for 100m.” Both Nibali and his directeur sportive Alexandre Shefer were fined 200 Swiss Francs.
The Year Record comes under renewed threat
While Eddy Merckx famously said that his 1972 assault on the Hour Record was the ‘hardest ride of his life’, there’s a record that many people say is even tougher – the Year. What’s even more staggering is that the current record of 75,065 miles (120,805km) was set back in 1939 by Britain’s Tommy Godwin. Fast forward to 2015 and there are three cyclists up for the challenge: Britain’s Steve Abraham, the USA’s Kurt Searvogel, and New Zealand’s Bruce Berkeley.
Abraham suffered a nasty crash in spring, which set him back considerably, while Searvogel seems like he might be on the cusp of breaking the record, as he’s already notched up over 72,000 miles, with 19 days and less than 3,000 miles to go. Berkeley starts his attempt on the first day of 2016, and will be blogging for BikeRadar throughout his attempt – watch this space.
EuroStar cycle carriage policy change is overturned
In a resounding victory for bike commuters and e-petitioners everywhere, EuroStar decided not to press ahead with plans to change its bike carriage policy. This would have forced cyclists to dismantle and box up their bikes before boarding the cross-channel trains, and drew criticism from many quarters including the mayors of both London and Paris. After some high-level meetings and confusion aplenty, EuroStar told BikeRadar: “Because of the concerns that some customers raised we decided to revert back to the original policy.” Hurrah.
Aaron Gwin unchained
Almost immediately it was clear that there was an issue with Aaron Gwin’s race run at this year’s Leogang round of the Downhill World Cup. A lack of cranking from the start gate made it glaringly obvious that the three-time overall World Cup champ had suffered a mechanical.
Indeed, a broken derailleur had left Gwin without a chain, and with no pedal power for his run the couple of minutes that ensued have gone down as some of the most memorable in the history of the sport.
Watch the vid above to recall how, in a masterclass of pumping and line choice, Gwin held all competitors off by over a second, taking the win without so much as a single crank rotation.
Rachel Atherton (very nearly) takes it all
In further downhill news for 2015, Rachel Atherton took wins in no less than six of the seven rounds of this year’s UCI Downhill World Cup. Her downhill domination also saw her take the third World Championship win. It was an epic way to sign off a lengthy and successful partnership with GT Factory Racing.
Rampage is more savage than ever before
This year, Red Bull’s Rampage event once again pitched the world’s most daring and talented freeriders head to head in the desert sands and cliff faces of Virgin, Utah. 2015 marked the event’s tenth anniversary, with the overall title taken by Canadian Kurt Sorge. You can check out his insane winning run, among four other epic efforts, here.
Sadly, the huge risks present at Rampage became obvious this year after five-time Rampage competitor and freeride legend Paul Basagoitia crashed in the event’s final. Basagoitia shattered his T12 verterbrae in the crash, which then called for nine hours of emergency surgery.
With Basagoitia known as one of the bravest and most stylish riders out there, the wider MTB community rallied to support him, and a #irideforpaul page was set up on Road2Recovery, a website dedicated to providing financial assistance to extreme sports athletes and their families.
History repeats itself
This year, mountain biking has seen a lot of comebacks; here are a few of the most notable. As an idea, the softtail has once again found traction, this time around big players such as BMC and Trek have introduced a couple of new bikes that fit the profile.
2015 also saw a comeback for the MET Parachute helmet and DMR’s legendary Trailstar, along with mountain biking’s longest established groupset, Shimano Deore XT, which was entirely reworked and became available for the first time in 1x flavour.
Martyn Ashton rides again
Following on from a life-changing injury sustained in an accident in late 2013, Ashton left the entire cycling community amazed when he returned to the saddle earlier this year.
A video captured at the Antur Stiniog downhill centre in North Wales shows the emotional moment Martyn return to two wheels alongside friends Danny MacAskill, Chris Akrigg and Blake Samson.
Made possible through epic determination from the man himself plus a specially adapted bike from Mojo’s Chris Porter, it’s endlessly inspiring.The best news is that there’s absolutely no stopping Martyn, who has recently taken his first steps in over two years. Fans can now support Martyn’s rehabilitation visit his GoFundMe page, here.
Plus is very much among us
It doesn’t seem a long time ago that BikeRadar’s Josh Patterson was writing about how 27.5+ could be the next big thing in mountain biking (here’s the article). It could’ve very much gone either way.
As it turned out, like them or loathe them, plus-sized bikes stole the limelight at Eurobike and Interbike, the industry’s largest trade shows. Chances are your go-to bike brand probably has a plus-sized bike on offer already, and we’ve seen plus sized bikes ranging from the £750/$989 Marin Pine mountain 1 all the way up to four figure pricetag, full-suspension models from the likes of Scott and Specialized.
Of course, this doesn’t mean these bikes are actually selling and, in the UK at least, they’re still few and far between out on the trails.