The latest edition of the world’s best cycling magazine is now out in the UK, featuring our comprehensive and innovative review of the year, interviews with David Millar and Timmy Duggan, in-depth features on Philippe Gilbert, Bradley Wiggins, Tom Boonen and Marianne Vos, and stunning photography by Jered Gruber from the Tour of Lombardy. Make sure you bend at the knees and keep a straight back when lifting it – at 196 pages, it’s a whopper.

Words by Cycle Sport staff

Thursday October 26 2012

Cycle Sport’s rider of the year: who else could it be except Bradley Wiggins? The British rider embarked on a stage race-winning spree in 2012, the likes of which the sport has rarely seen, collecting yellow jerseys at Paris-Nice, the Tour of Romandy, the Critérium du Dauphiné and the Tour de France. He added an Olympic gold medal in the time trial, before his season drew to a close at the Tour of Britain.

Has fame changed Wiggins? The question presupposes that we knew him in the first place. Richard Moore, who followed Wiggins’ season, writes that Wiggins remains a “mass of contradictions. An introvert and a showman. A cycling fanatic who sometimes seems to dislike talking about the sport. A man in love with the history and romance of the sport, yet a pragmatist in his approach. Spontaneous, but methodical in his dedication. A Wiggins wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.”

But perhaps Wiggins is the best man to sum up his year. As he told us, “Every now and again, I think, f***, I won the Tour de France.”

ALSO IN THE MAGAZINE…

Wiggins wasn’t the only rider to enjoy an extraordinary season of success. If it wasn’t for Wiggins’ awesome foursome of big wins, Tom Boonen would easily have been our man of the year. When Boonen was outsprinted at Het Nieuwsblad in February, it looked like it was going to be yet another season of underachievement. Four major WorldTour one-day wins later, cycling was reeling from the single most impressive Classics campaign in the history of the sport. He won E3, Ghent-Wevelgem and the Tour of Flanders with increasing confidence and ease, then executed the ride of the year by making a solo 49-kilometre attack to win Paris-Roubaix. Richard Moore chronicles the rise, fall and rise of Tom Boonen and finds out why some subtle but significant changes at the end of 2011 made all the difference.

Cycling fans’ opinions about who the man of 2012 was may depend on whether they prefer Classics or Tours. But there’s no question whatsoever as to who is the woman of the year. Marianne Vos continued to lay waste to the ambitions of her rivals this year, winning the Giro Donne, the Olympic Games road race and the world championships, along with a healthy collection of other races. She finished outside the top 10 in threeraces this year. It’s almost as if it’s too easy for her. Andy McGrath looks back at Vos’s continuing dominance of women’s cycling and speaks to her management team, and her rivals, to find out what makes her tick, and how it’s possible to beat her. Not easily, would be the answer to that.

The curse of the rainbow jersey is a classic piece of cycling folklore. The legend goes that whoever wins the world championships road race will suffer a season of poor form and results. Perhaps Philippe Gilbert got his curse in early. Gregor Brown was at the world championships to watch Gilbert bounce back from his worst season in years to take the rainbow jersey, and then followed him on to Il Lombardia where he rode his first WorldTour race as world champion.

After dominating the spring classics, and wearing the yellow jersey, in 2011, Gilbert’s form suddenly dipped. From the GP de Wallonie that year to stage nine of the Vuelta this year, he endured a victory drought that lasted 357 days. Why did this happen? Did the big money transfer to BMC take the edge off his ambition? Did he have trouble adjusting to a new bike? Did off-season dental surgery knock his health? Whatever the answer, Gilbert silenced the doubters with one scintillating attack on the Cauberg.

SPECIAL FEATURE: CYCLE SPORT’S ALMANAC OF 2012

Cycle Sport’s superb 30-page review of the year brings you analysis, opinion, results, stats, graphics, pie charts, spuriously-photoshopped pictures, quotes, puns, gratuitous bad language, limericks and much much more.

Which rider spent 2,468 kilometres off the front of the peloton in 2012? Which rider won the first European race of the year and didn’t win again all year? In which race were the top 12 all from the same country? Which rider won the most races? Who’s ridden and finished the most Grand Tours? Who was the best domestique of 2012? All these questions are asked and answered.

The war against doping’s most prominent figurehead, and possibly its most complex too, is David Millar, whose first quote to the press following a Tour stage win this year was, “We must never forget that I am an ex-doper.” Kenny Pryde interviewed Millar about the current state of play in anti-doping, and his own place in the struggle. Millar believes that cycling has substantially cleaned up (although EPO positives continue to happen), but acknowledges that his generation must not deny their responsibility in dealing with the past.

The case against Lance Armstrong has been all over the national press for almost a month now, and public opinion has now definitively turned against the Texan. It could be argued that the tipping point came with the testimony of one man, George Hincapie. The almost universal admiration for Hincapie’s character (although it remains to be seen how his admission of doping will affect that) was what finally turned public opinion against his former leader. Matt Walsh observed Hincapie during his final race, the USA Pro Cycling Challenge, and wrote this account of Hincapie’s position in American cycling. The fans’ view of Hincapie used to be so simple – he was cycling’s Mr Nice Guy. Now, the relationship is more complex.

2012 was a watershed year for Grand Tour tactics. The Tour, Giro and Vuelta each taught us something new, and to some extent, changed the way they will be raced in the future. Edward Pickering looks at all three races, leading with the Tour de France, and how Bradley Wiggins and Team Sky planned their ambush on the race. The win was a mastery of circumstances, built on the lessons learned from Wiggins’ rides in the 2009, 2010 and 2011 Tours. 2012 was the year Wiggins finally cracked the race – he had the form to win, or finish very highly, in 2011, but it was a small tweak in his own riding style which made the difference in 2012.

If Sky executed a tactical ambush at the Tour, Garmin’s Giro win with Ryder Hesjedal was even more daring. From the composition of their team to their confidence in the way Hesjedal’s body works over a three-week race (his form dips less than other riders), Garmin’s tactics made up for the fact that other teams and riders were, on paper, much stronger. And at the Vuelta, a race dominated by interminable grinds up steep summit finishes was sandwiched by two stages of extraordinary tactical intrigue.

Cycle Sport’s anonymous peloton insider, Our man in the bunch, explains the complicated way tactics affect cycling. From time trial pace judgement, through the age-old strategy of ganging up on race leaders, he shows how brains, not brawn, can make the difference in winning bike races.

We sent photographer Jered Gruber to the Tour of Lombardy to capture the atmosphere and visual beauty of the race. He sent us back an outstanding selection of images which conveyed the brutal climactic conditions and the suffering of the riders as they battled through the rain.

NEW SERIES: I LOVE 1990!
In the first of a new series, we go back to 1990 to look at the races and personalities who were dominating cycling. 1990 straddled the eras of traditionalism and modernity, with technology and scientific training starting to get a grip on racing. We’ve looked at the best races of the year – Paris-Roubaix, won in a sprint finish by less than a centimetre, the Tour, which was dominated by an innocuous-looking break on stage one, and the rise of Italian cyclists, personified by Milan-San Remo and Giro winner Gianni Bugno.

Timmy Duggan may not be the most famous or prolific cyclist, but he’s probably faced more adversity than most, and his peers are unanimous that he’s also the nicest guy in the sport. Matt Walsh caught up with the US national champion to quiz him on his comeback from a horrific crash and head injury in the 2008 Tour of Georgia. Duggan explains how the accident gave him perspective, and, paradoxically, freed him from pressure. “(My accident) made sport less important to me. It makes it easier. You’re not so attached to your failures. It’s no problem to just go big and see what happens.”

Just before the start of the Tour de France this year, we ran a web story asking for readers to send in Tour-inspired artworks. We’re pleased to say that Cycle Sport seems to have readers of great talent and artistic vision – we’ve printed the best ones, which show a different side to the biggest race in the world.

Plus…All our regular features – Graham Watson looks back at Lombardia and the World’s; Shop Window features the latest cycling bling; Broomwagon – well, it’s the month he’s been waiting for; Q&A with Norway’s Alexander Kristoff (“Edvald doesn’t talk that much”); Armstrong, inevitably; Giro route redux; Rachel Neylan – our new hero; Transfers; Boring Beijing Blandness; Geraint’s favourite things of the year; Post race banter, with stats, chat and wacky graphics; great writing and photography, and much more.

That’s 196 pages of cycling goodness, for the outrageously reasonable price of £4.95. This month, we’ve tested positive for excellence.

Cycle Sport December, featuring the very best writing and photography of professional cycling, is available now in the UK, and will be on sale in the USA shortly. It is also available electronically through Zinio.

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