Well, it's that time of year again. Time for Flahute to put down his cobblestone shaped Christmas cookies and announce our 2011 Flahute awards.
It's OK, pour just one more trappiste ale, sit back an savor a great year of cycling. Then get out on the bike and emulate these inspirations of 2011!
Braveheart Johnny Hoogerland: Getting up to finish after sliding along a barbed wire fence? Say no more. Where does a guy get the strength of character to do that? Maybe it's in the wind, along the Zeeland coast.
Well ok, we'll say one more thing... How 'bout that attack in the finale of the World's with Voeckler, giving it all in a attempt to break Cav's royal coronation procession. Here's hoping Johnny will be as good in 2012. And less battered.
His Rabobank team called him 'hard as a rock'. His Tweet, "You don't quit the tour because of a fat lip" is our line of the year.
read this great New Yorker article).
Once a pioneer, always a pioneer. The first American in the Tour de France. First American in the top 5 of the World's Pro road race (1980, nearly winning it two years later). Ultramarathon RAAM winner. I'm betting Jock's shoestring program will see a Rwandan in the pro peloton before he's done.
Last chance hotel at SaxoBank, where just like with Jens, and with Bobby Julich, Bjarne Riis' magic and quiet team ambiance re-instilled the faith and confidence that had somehow gone missing. Nuyens tactical savvy and sniper's instincts provided the rest. In the wheels till it mattered. On the right move in the end. Outsprinting the two strongest men of the race. The 'resurrection of the sniper' is our moment of the year.
|Tommy V's podium. (Reuters Photo)|
He kept smiling at the cameras, saying he couldn't hope to win the Tour, and then proceeded to defend the jersey like not only his life, but the future of la Patrie of France depended on it. In the process, he gradually brought belief to a nation of passionate fans who'd perhaps over the past decade become conditioned to lose hope they'd ever see one of their own in a with a real shot at victory again. Hindsight is 20/20, but if it wasn't for that energy sapping desperate chase on the Galibier, Voeckler might just have been up there on the podium in Paris. No matter though, for Thomas Voeckler's podium was the roof of the world - the summit of the Galibier - mounted with one arm raised in relief at having saved the maillot jaune for one more day.
Perhaps after a decade filled with an embarrassment of talent riches, we North Americans have almost come to expect an endless stream of young cycling talent. With a few exceptions, we tend not to celebrate the victorious stepping stones of new hopes anymore, saving the media plaudits for when they hit the top rung. A shame I think.
Almost unnoticed this year while the cycling world came to race the ProTour in Quebec and Montreal, a young rider from Quebec City was across the pond, wearing the maillot jaune in the Tour de L'Avenir right up until the final day, only beaten into second by a mere 17 seconds. David Boily is a member of Steve Bauer's Spidertech team who certainly looks like he's got a great future ahead of him. For this is no fluke result, but the race of the future. The Tour de France for U23's. The race who's yellow jersey adorned future stars like Gimondi, Zoetemelk, Baronchelli, LeMond, Soukhoroutchenkov and Indurain.
Boily. Remember the name. And learn a little more about him here and here.