The Grand Tours, the Olympics and the world championships brought
some wonderful moments, but cycling's evils continue to rear its ugly
TOP 5 MOMENTS
1. ALBERTO CONTADOR: The Spaniard is undisputedly the best cyclist on the pro-circuit and has the results to back up this superiority. He was invincible and untouchable when claiming overall victory in the Giro and Vuelta.
If only he was given the chance to compete at the Tour, I'm sure he would have challenged Carlos Sastre and come close to successfully completing a clean sweep.
2. STUART O'GRADY: If he wasn't already, Stuart O'Grady stamped his place in Australian cycling folklore. CSC's ultimate team man, he was responsible for guiding Sastre to Tour de France victory with sheer guile and strength and at the same time deny fellow Cadel Evans the opportunity of becoming the first Australian to win cycling's grand prize. Wth this I rate O'Grady's performance greater than Evans in 2008.
3. CADEL EVANS: If only Cadel Evans had a super team to support him in his quest to win the Tour. He suffered through pain as a result of a crash and had to contend with new-found fame as a result of snaring the leader's yellow jersey and the media attention that comes with leading the world's greatest race.
Finishing second for the second year in a row is a magnificent achievement, but the lack of team support forces me to relegate Evans to third place in the top five moments of 2008.
4. GREAT BRITAIN'S OLYMPIC SQUAD: They promised so much and delivered when it mattered most. Lottery-funded money was the difference between winning gold medals and settling for silver or bronze.
It proves cash (and lots of it) can bring Olympic success, The British squad, whether it be on the road or track, were simply irresistable in Beijing.
5. LANCE ARMSTRONG: It came unexpectedly. For some, the announcement of Lance Armstrong returning to racing raised more questions than answers.For others, the opportunity to follow a seven-time Tour de France winner chase an 8th title three years after retiring is a tantalising prospect and a godsend for a man many regard as a living legend.
WORST 5 MOMENTS
1. RICCARDO RICCO: He had everything going for him, yet Riccardo Ricco's demise from doping was the most disappointing moment of the year. Here was an Italian who had attitude, youth, appeal and could race faster than most, not to mention he had the character and personality currently devoid from the pro-circuit.
Shock turned to anger on seeing the images of Ricco being taken away by French police at the Tour.
He deserved nothing less for the shame he brought to himself and for making all those who love and passionately adore the sport appear foolish.
2. BERNARD KOHL/STEFAN SCHUMACHER: If Ricco's demise wasn't enough, the news of Bernard Kohl and Gerlosteiner roomate Bernard Kohl returning positive tests for a third generation EPO in October sunk cycling to a new low.
At a time when hope is urgently needed to restore a sport's battered image, some cynics viewed the latest chapter as unsurprising.
3. AUSTRALIA'S TRACK TEAM: "Out with the old and in with the new". That was the cry from one depressed Australian after the green and gold limped out of the Beijing Olympics without a whimper.
The comment mirrored the attitudes of most Aussies cycling fans not used to experiencing failure on the velodrome.
God bless Anna Meares for her gutsy silver medal ride against all odds. As for the rest, I think it's time to go back to the drawing board!
4. LANCE ARMSTRONG: He WAS the best thing to ever happen to world cycling. But can Lance come back and do it all again or is he simply doing it because he misses being the spotlight?
Experts say it's impossible to come back at peak level after a three year absence and re-rule the roads. I wish Lance all the best, but do we really need to see history attempt to be repeated?
5. GERMAN TV: German television generates many millions of dollars in investment, sponsorship and production costs when broadcasting the Tour de France.
The three week extravaganza is one of the most watched events since the rise and domination of Jan Ullrich, so to withdraw coverage next year is a brave but disappointing move.
I feel it does little to encourage the fight against doping. Instead, it shows a defeatest attitude by a network which has taken the easy way out.