The 2021 cycling season book will slowly close. While there are still a few lines to write, the main chapters have been written down. Some are etched in marble like moments of eternity. Six men have marked the season a little more than the others: Tadej Pogacar, Primoz Roglic, Julian Alaphilippe, Mathieu Van der Poel, Sonny colbrelli and our compatriot Wout van Aert.
Monument hunter, Tour winner, Pogacar the all-terrain champion
From its first place in the world, Tadej Pogacar can eye the pack. To rise to the top, Pogi composted 13 wins. He of course extended his reign on the Tour de France. The Slovenian also explored unknown territories. He had already shown his qualities in one day races. We knew he was capable of shining on this field. But by slamming Liège-Bastogne-Liège and the Tour of Lombardy in the same year, the UAE Team Emirates rider made a sensational debut on the Monuments list. Unparalleled climber, talented roller and endowed with a great burst of speed, Pogacar is an all-terrain champion and inclined towards the offensive. At 23, he has everything to register permanently at the top of the planetary hierarchy.
His 13 victories: Tour of the Emirates and a stage, Tirreno-Adriatico and a stage, 3rd stage of the Tour of the Basque Country, Liège-Bastogne-Liège, Tour of Slovenia and a stage, Tour de France and 3 stages, Tour of Lombardy. He also finished 3rd in the Tokyo Olympics.
Primoz Roglic falls and the art of getting up
The story of Primoz Roglic seems to stutter. It was a fall (in ski jumping) that led him to cycling, it is falls that punctuate his career on two wheels. This year its meetings with bitumen have once again slowed down its ambitions. He saw the victory in Paris-Nice fly away and his dreams of yellow on the road to France. When he stays “on his feet,” he is one of the very best. Untouchable when he is at his peak, he has won 13 victories, like his compatriot. Rogla turned rebounding into art. His failures in the Tour, he erased them by going for the Vuelta. And in what way this year: with four stages in addition to the general. This year, he began his recovery in Tokyo with the gold in the stopwatch, just 24 days after his retirement on the road to Tignes.
His 13 victories: 3 stages of Paris-Nice, Tour of the Basque Country and one stage, Olympic champion in the time trial, the Vuelta and four stages, Tour d’Émilie, Milan-Turin.
Wout Van Aert, 13 victories for a multi-faceted rider
Third point of the trident with 13 victories, Wout van Aert has been ubiquitous throughout the season. From the Strade (4th) to Paris-Roubaix (7th), he displayed the palette of his talent and his eclecticism. His Tour de France is the best example with three victories in three completely different registers: in Malaucène after having climbed the Ventoux, in Saint-Emilion in the stopwatch and in the sprint on the Champs Elysées.
Gand-Wevelgem, Amstel, the Belgian championship, 2nd in Tokyo and the time trial worlds, 3rd in Sanremo, 6th in the Ronde, a festival in Great Britain (4 victories and the general) his season remains exceptional in regularity. Some will point to a few missed appointments such as his 11th place in Leuven. It would be to forget a little quickly what he has accomplished.
Van Aert can do almost everything on a bicycle and paradoxically, this may also be a disadvantage. In any case, that complicates the choices. To exert himself without counting on all the grounds, he sometimes lacks that little hint of energy which makes the difference in key moments. A lesson for the future?
His 13 victories: two stages of Tirreno-Adriatico, Gand-Wevelgem, Amstel Gold Race, Belgian championship, 3 stages of the Tour de France, Tour de Grande Bretagne and 4 stages.
Julian Alaphilippe, a rainbow that shines on special occasions
Of our six men of the season, he is the one who won the least. Barely four small bouquets. Corn Julian Alaphilippe has practically checked all of his goals (with the possible exception of Liège-Bastogne-Liège, 2nd).
He tamed the Mur de Huy for a third time by swallowing an overly ambitious Roglic in the last few meters. Louie then went to look for the first yellow jersey of the Grande Boucle at Landerneau. Two beautiful lines on a track record, but which do not stand the comparison with a rainbow jersey. His demonstration at the Worlds is clearly his masterpiece. Each time, he has imposed himself in his style with daring and panache.
His 4 successes: a stage of Tirreno-Adricatico, the Flèche wallonne, a stage of the Tour de France, the world championship.
Mathieu Van der Poel, king of the Strade and the tribute to Poupou
Mathieu Van der Poel also can claim the title of spectacular winner. When he raises his arms, he often makes an impression: a devastating acceleration in the streets of Siena, a 51-kilometer solo in the rain in Tirreno, a bold attack on Mûr de Bretagne to pay the most beautiful tribute to his Grandfather (Raymond Poulidor). VDP has a sense of show. He runs on instinct. It does not always work (3rd Roubaix, 2nd Ronde) but it is blowing – like others – a breath of fresh air in the peloton.
His 8 victories: one stage of the Tour of the Emirates, the Strade Bianche, two stages of Tirreno-Adriatico, two stages of the Tour de Suisse, one stage of the Tour de France, Antwerp Port Epic.
Sonny Colbrelli, a late outbreak for a thunderous end of the season
Sonny colbrelli is undoubtedly the most unexpected name of this top 6. And until June, he had little reason to appear there. Sprinter-puncher, the Italian has aged like the good. In his thirties (31 years old), the Lombard discovered himself a climber. Brilliant at the Dauphiné, amazing at Saint Gaudens and Tignes on the Tour, Colbrelli finished the season with a cannonball. He caught the tour of the Benelux, frustrated Remco Evenepoel at the Euro before surfing the cobblestones and mud for his first at Paris-Roubaix.
His 8 victories: a stage of the Tour de Romandie, a stage of the Critérium du Dauphiné, Italian champion, the Tour du Benelux and a stage, European champion, Memorial Marco Pantani, Paris-Roubaix