Those in the know shouldn’t be surprised that Cadel Evans commandingly leads every media poll I’ve checked for 'Australia’s sports performance of the year."
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7 Apr 2015 - 11:32 PM  UPDATED 13 Apr 2015 - 3:37 PM

In a year when Samantha Stosur was crowned US Open
Champion at Flushing Meadows, Sally Pearson blitzed the field in the
hurdles at the World Athletics Championships in Daegu and Casey Stoner
blew away all-comers in the MotoGP, Cadel's heroics in France in July
are, fittingly, deemed as the best of the lot.

Even the exploits
of unbeaten mare Black Caviar can't get a look-in. (How a race horse can
make a poll for such a category is beyond me – but let's leave that
argument for Twitter.)

If the polls were conducted 10 years ago, perhaps it would have been a different outcome.

In
the days when Robbie McEwen was regularly cleaning up as a multiple
stage winner in each of the Grand Tours, or when Stuart O'Grady would
complement his Tour de France stage victories with the wearing of the
maillot jaune (the second Australian to do so behind Phil Anderson)
professional cyclists hardly rated a murmur, let alone a nomination in a
reader polls.

Chances are the honour for best sports performance would have gone to a member of the AFL, NRL or cricket fraternity.

Now cycling's profile has been respected. And if
the growth and progression of the sport's recent past has thrilled us,
we can only brace ourselves for more of the same in the immediate
future.

It all starts with the men's road race at the National
Championships in Buninyong where up to 30 riders of the 149 expected to
start on the tough Buninyong circuit on January 8, are European-based
riders plying their trade in big team on the big roads of the UCI
WorldTour.

What an endorsement to Aussie cycling that is in itself!

The
intricacies in the lead-up to the six-day festival around Ballarat will
be scrutinised in the coming days on this forum, but for now it's a
wonderful opportunity to reflect on a memorable 2011.

From
Cadel's brave achievements on the Col du Galibier, Alp d'Huez and
Grenoble to the sensational efforts of Matt Goss at Milan-San Remo and
the World Championships, it's been one incredible ride.

Let's not
forget the likes of Jack Bobridge whose solo win on Buninyong last
January, I personally rate, was one of the best individual performances
of the year.

Cameron Meyer was brilliant at last year's Tour Down
Under, as was Mark Renshaw at the Tour of Qatar and Chris Sutton, who bagged a stage win at the Vuelta a Espana.

And of course we must
acknowledge the efforts or the elite national track riders who dominated
the UCI World Championships in The Netherlands.

From a personal point of view, I'm proud that all of the above were screened (either live or delayed) on SBS.

The Cycling Central team has also grown as a result. It's an enthusiastic unit that lives and breathes cycling 365 days of the year.

On
behalf of every member involved in the production of the website, the
weekly Sunday afternoon TV instalment and the live coverage of major
races throughout the year, we've loved every minute of it.

With
the arrival of GreenEDGE and Cadel's expected Tour de France defence in
six months, there's no doubt the new year is filled with optimism and
excitement.

While some may view cycling's international rise as
an "overnight success" through Cadel, I'd like to think it's been some
100 years in the making which started with Snowy Baker and Hubert
Opperman a long time ago.

Join us in 2012 – you'll regret it if you miss it.