2014 seemed so promising. Three prolific riders competing head to head over three weeks. It was going to be amazing. Would Team Sky continue their reign, or would Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) or Nibali (Astana) snatch the coveted yellow jersey off the British team's back? It was supposed to be a battle all the way to Paris. But alas, it was never meant to be. Froome (Team Sky) crashed out in stage 5, followed by Contador in stage 10, leaving Nibali to take the 2014 GC with relative ease, as well as leaving the rest of us with a relatively boring Tour de France to watch.
Though last year's tour was a bit of a drag, redemption is surely coming with the 2015 version of the beloved race. The route, which features a team time trial, multiple summit stage finishes, and the return of the cobbles, would make any version of the Tour appealing for fans, but it's the fact that, once again, we get to see some of most prolific riders of the modern era fighting for Maillot Juane: Froome, Contador, Nibali...as well as the up-and-coming Nairo Quintana (Movistar). We're months away from the Grand Depart in the Netherlands, but we're already anticipating what is to come.
1) the battle for the maillot juane
With the 2015 World Tour season quickly approaching, our collective mind is brimming with excitement for what is to come in the pro ranks. These are the top 5 things we're excited to see this year...
2) Stage 4 of the tour - return of the cobbles
With the fantastic performance by Jens Voigt in September, taking the One Hour World Record, the interest has been reignited for the seemingly forgotten event. Sadly, just as quickly as the German took the hour record, the title was taken a short time later by Austrian, Matthias Brändle. Now, it seems as though every rider in the professional peloton with the ability to time-trial is lining up for a chance to be in the record books with the likes of the greats. So far, we're looking at Alex Dowsett (Movistar) and Rohan Dennis (BMC Racing) this spring alone. Taylor Phinney (BMC Racing) has also expressed interest in it as his reentry back into the peloton after his horrific USA Nationals crash. Though its likely there will be more this year, there is one that I'm most excited for, that of Sir Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky). As reigning World TT champion, and multiple gold medalist on the track, when Wiggo makes his bid at the title, it's likely to hold for quite some time.
3) Year of the Hour Record
After watching Stage 5 of the 2014 Tour de France, it's difficult to not be excited for the 2015 version. Watching the GC riders get thrashed about by the undiscriminating cobbles of old is something to be admired. When riders from the '14 tour voiced their disapproval of including them into the 2015 race (ahem, Mr. Cancellara [Trek Factory Racing]), I'll admit that I was a little disappointed. Stage 5 was brilliant to watch. It gave fans a bit of everything that makes the tour, and bike racing for that matter, beautiful: the agony of defeat, the triumph of will, and the glory of victory. As well as mud, crashes, rain, more crashes, etc...
No doubt, this year's edition of the Tour will be equally as exciting. How will the GC contenders fare this time 'round? We will see in July.
4) A Case for the rainbow jersey
What's better than the World Championships? When the World Championships are on 'Merican soil, that's what. For the first time since 1986 in Colorado Springs, the USA will host the event, and it's going to be one for the books. Obviously, because it's in Richmond, Virginia, contains punchy climbs and cobbles, and will be key for riders looking to be selected for the 2016 Rio Olympics. Given the terrain, it is expected to be cobbled-classics riders that are the main contenders for the rainbow jersey. Who knows, maybe this year Cancellara will finally get his Road world title. In any case, you can expect a few members from your favorite bike shop to be on the side lines...
5) Return to the Rockies
No list from a Colorado-grown bike shop would be complete without incorporating our favorite race of the year, the USA Pro Cycling Challenge. With every year getting progressively more exciting, the 2015 edition of the race surely won't disappoint. The seven stages of the race that snake through pristine Colorado landscapes incite a sense of appreciation for the state in which we proudly call home. Not to mention the feelings of nostalgia one gets while watching the pros shatter your personal record up Lookout Mountain. What makes this year even more exciting is the fact that the race will start right here in Golden. We couldn't be more proud.