As the cycling year comes to a grinding halt, it's fitting to reflect on the highs and lows of the 2009 season and deliverthe bricks and bouquets to the appropriate recipients.
7 Apr 2015 - 11:32 PM  UPDATED 13 Apr 2015 - 3:36 PM

As the cycling year comes to a grinding halt, it's perhaps fitting to reflect on the highs and lows of the 2009 season and deliver the bricks and bouquets to the appropriate recipients.

In a year when an Australian was crowned road cycling's world champion for the first time, the spotlight has certainly been on Cadel Evans and his wonderful achievement on the roads around Mendrisio.

There are many moments that capture the imagination.

There's no denying Cadel has become an international brand and here's hoping his newly-published book Close to Flying becomes a best seller.

Who can forget Denis Menchov's last-gasp win, despite crashing on the slippery cobbled streets of Rome, to win the Giro in dramatic circumstances or the gun-slinging efforts of Alberto Contador at the Tour de France, and his personal and professional conflicts with Astana team-mate Lance Armstrong.

And of course it was the year SBS viewers were briefly introduced to the one-and-only so-called Irish cycling "expert" Paddy Agnew. Perhaps the less said about Paddy the better.

So without fear or favour here are my personal highs and lows of 2009.

Best moments

1. Cadel Evans

The world championship victory was Cadel's crowning moment in a year when he also ruled the roads of the Vuelta.

Had it not been for a mistimed puncture, which forced him to wait an agonising 90 seconds for service to arrive, Cadel would have come close to winning Spain's three week classic. Instead, he settled for third place - quite an achievement in itself as the first Aussie to stand on the podium of Spain's great Grand Tour.

Despite his frustrations, he's a short-priced favourite to secure the Sir Hubert Opperman award as Australia's most outstanding cyclist of the year - and rightly so.

2. Heinrich Haussler

He has a German name and rides for a German team but Heinrich Haussler is a true-blue Aussie. When he crossed the finish line in Stage 12 of the Tour de France on a cold, wet day in July, the raw emotion that filled his face was infectious.

It heralded his arrival to cycling's world stage but many might have suggested the victory was inevitable given his performance earlier in the year, particularly at the Paris-Roubaix when Heinrich finished seventh.

Australian cycling welcomes HH's plans to replace his German licence with one coloured green and gold in 2010.

3. Simon Gerrans

To be overlooked for the Tour de France only made Simon Gerrans more determined to succeed. While Cervelo's managerial credibility was saved as a result of Thor Hushovd's green jersey victory in France, there's still no word whether they regret ignoring Gerro.

He proved all them wrong by storming to a stage victory at the Giro and then silencing selectors with a similar result at the Vuelta.

Let's hope Gerrans gets more respect when he joins Sky Racing team in 2010.

4. Australia's world ranking

Australia finished the year in third position behind Spain and Italy. Cadel's gold medal in Switzerland went a long way to lifting the country's profile and despite a lack of overall success in other events, consistent performances from Australians competing at the elite level is the reason for the high ranking.

5. The return of Lance Armstrong

If anyone could inject new life into world cycling, it was Lance Armstrong. From the moment he stepped off the plane at Adelaide Airport in January for his debut appearance at the Tour Down Under, we knew it was the "real deal".

Armstrong is to cycling what Pele is to football, Michael Schumacher is to motor racing and Tiger Woods is to golf - a legend!

Whether he won or lost wasn't the point. That fact that he raced to win underlined his hunger to succeed at all costs, and I for one was so grateful for that.

Worst moments

1. Jobie Dajka death

It's been eight months since his passing but I often think of Jobie Dajka and the way he left us - at the lowest point of his eventful life.

Such a waste of talent for a man who oozed championship qualities and could well have returned to the top and duplicate his keirin world championship gold medal as an 18-year-old.

2. Allan Davis Tour de France axing

After several painstaking weeks of not knowing whether he was in or out of the Tour de France, Allan Davis was given the green light by Quickstep management he would start.

And when he joined his team-mates in front of a global television audience at the official teams presentation in Monaco, it seemed was more certain.

But his world came crashing down when news came through that Tom Boonen was cleared to ride after winning a long legal struggle for cocaine use.

3. Tom Boonen's Tour failure

Boonen's 11th hour clearance was seen as a godsend for Quickstep, but we soon realised the team's decision to satisfy Belgium's hungry fans had backfired.

Cycling's pin-up boy was a flop. Boonen failed to win a stage and left without a whimper after stage 15 - completely empty-handed much to the embarrassment of Quickstep team boss Patrick Lefevre.

4. Cadel Evans' Tour de France

Expectations were high after successive second place finishes but Cadel's much publicised run-in with fellow riders and team officials at Silence-Lotto led to his Tour de France demise.

To finish 30th on the General Classification came as a shock, so when news came through that Cadel would sever ties with the Belgian-registered team after five years of loyal service brought more cheers than jeers from his faithful followers on this side of the globe.

5. Robbie McEwen's injuries

A season without Robbie McEwen punching the air of success just isn't the same. Serious crashes in April and May and subsequent knee surgery brought a premature end to Robbie's year.

Despite vowing to bounce back in 2010, critics question whether it's possible at the age of 38, and whether McEwen will still have the power and speed to topple the best of them all – Mark Cavendish.