The votes have been counted — here’s what you viewed as the best and worst of 2015
- Photos by Graham Watson, Andy Jones and Yuzuru Sunada

Our annual Cycling Weekly Reader Poll paints a picture of the cycling year, giving emphasis to those riders, teams and events that have really stuck in the memory in the preceding 12 months.

Our 2015 edition attracted one of the highest number of respondents yet, and has thrown up some major surprises. It’s not so much who has attracted your votes, but who and what has been left out.

For the first time ever, there’s no award for what has traditionally been pro cycling’s major race and its winner: the Tour de France. Both the event, and its victor Chris Froome, did not garner a single award this year, although they were never far from the top.

Instead, we have some refreshingly new faces — as well as a sprinkling of old ones — to make this year’s poll results highly memorable. Along with the top three in each category, we’ve also listed some of the also-rans and entertaining answers given by respondents.

Riders and teams

Most impressive British rider of 2015

Geraint Thomas, Revolution Series, London, November 2015

Geraint Thomas. Photo: Andy Jones

1 Geraint Thomas
2 Lizzie Armitstead
3 Chris Froome

Last year’s winner
Sir Bradley Wiggins

There was no doubt who was this year’s most impressive Brit, snatching well over a third of all the votes cast: Geraint Thomas. The likeable Welshman has captured the nation’s imagination in what has been a standout year. A solid Classics season featured a win in E3 Harelbeke and a third at Ghent-Wevelgem before spending much of the Tour de France in the top 10.

Women’s road world champ Lizzie Armitstead placed second after a season that saw her do the double: World Cup and World Championship victories.

Chris Froome completes our podium in third, after he became the first British rider in history to win two editions of the Tour.

Honourable mentions
He may have retired from Sky and the WorldTour back in April, but Sir Bradley Wiggins still got plenty of votes for his World Hour record. New blood Adam Yates evidently impressed with his Tour ride and Clásica San Sebastián win, and Steve Cummings’s Tour stage victory was one of the year’s highlights. Someone also voted for an unnamed cyclist who featured in a popular YouTube video: “That one who got the motorist to chase him and then the motorist fell on his face.”

Most impressive international rider

Peter Sagan (centre) after his World Championships win (Sunada)

Peter Sagan (centre) after his World Championships win. Photo: Yuzuru Sunada

1 Peter Sagan
2 Tom Dumoulin
3 Alejandro Valverde

Last year’s winner
Alberto Contador

Another crystal clear winner for your favourite international rider: Peter Sagan. After suffering a frustrating season during which he finished numerous races in second place and was threatened with a pay cut by outspoken Tinkoff-Saxo team boss Oleg Tinkov, the Slovak superstar came good at the World Championships in Richmond. A perfectly timed move in the finale of the gruelling race saw him earn the right to wear the coveted rainbow jersey.

Unusually, a rider who came away from the season empty-handed placed second: Dutchman Tom Dumoulin. Dumoulin’s try-at-all-costs performance at the Vuelta a España, where he battled Italian Fabio Aru to the bitter end, was inspiring.

Aru may have won the Vuelta, but he didn’t feature in the top three. Instead, WorldTour winner Alejandro Valverde placed third after the evergreen Spaniard enjoyed another consistent season.

Honourable mentions
Norwegian Alexander Kristoff just missed the podium for once, despite being the rider with the most race wins in 2015. Multi-discipline, multi-talented Frenchwoman Pauline Ferrand-Prévot attracted a solid number of votes, as did Esteban Chaves, John Degenkolb and Fabio Aru. Last year’s winner, Alberto Contador, received hardly any votes, despite his Giro d’Italia victory.

Unluckiest rider of the year

Fabian Cancellara in action during Stage 3 of the 2015 Vuelta Espana (Watson)

Fabian Cancellara in action during Stage 3 of the 2015 Vuelta Espana. Photo: Graham Watson

1 Fabian Cancellara
2 Tony Martin
3 Tom Dumoulin

Last year’s winner
New category

A new category for 2015 honours: those to whom Lady Luck has not been very kind. Fabian Cancellara is the inaugural winner, having experienced a season peppered with ill fortune. Things actually started off pretty well for the 34-year-old Swiss rider, with a stage win in the Tour of Oman and a time trial win in Tirreno-Adriatico. However, a crash in E3 Harelbeke saw him crack two vertebrae. A remarkable recovery saw him back in
shape and take the lead in the Tour de France in July, only to crash out while in the yellow jersey, again with two fractured vertebrae. A return at the Vuelta a España then saw him abandon due to illness.

Second-placed in our poll, Tony Martin also crashed out of the Tour de France while in the race lead, breaking his collarbone. And few can forget the wince-inducing injury after Martin’s anti-slip saddle covering rubbed through his shorts and part of his backside at the Worlds.

After crashing out of the Tour, Tom Dumoulin put in a memorable ride in the Vuelta, losing out on the race lead after fading in the race’s mountain finale.

Honourable mentions
Marcel Kittel’s illness-plagued season saw him stage more comebacks than Take That, all with little success. Before his fortunes changed at the World Championships, Peter Sagan did not enjoy a fortune-filled season, being struck by a motorcycle in the Vuelta a España and being forced to abandon.

Most impressive team

Team Sky on stage nine of the 2015 Tour de France. Watson

Team Sky on stage nine of the 2015 Tour de France. Photo: Graham Watson

1 Sky
2 MTN-Qhubeka
3 Movistar

Last year’s winner
Omega Pharma-Quick Step

After a year in the CW poll doldrums in 2014, British WorldTour outfit Sky rocket back to the top of our most impressive team category. Not only did the squad win the Tour de France for a third year out of the last four, but they also finally came good in the Classics, and took some memorable wins with Richie Porte, Ian Stannard, Geraint Thomas and Elia Viviani.

It’s great to see MTN-Qhubeka beating the big budget opposition to take second spot: the African squad really captured the imagination and interest with plucky rides in pretty much every race they entered. It’ll be interesting to see whether they can keep up the momentum as they move up to the WorldTour in 2016.

Spanish squad Movistar have grown in your affections, with a wide variety of entertaining riders on their roster: Nairo Quintana, Alejandro Valverde, Alex Dowsett and Adriano Malori to name but four.

Honourable mentions
Having topped the table last year, Etixx-Quick Step have slipped off the podium despite still racking up a decent number of wins. American team BMC are still among your favourites, and Astana were also recognised for their support in Fabio Aru’s Vuelta victory.

Performance of the year

Tom Dumoulin attacks on stage nineteen of the 2015 Tour of Spain

Tom Dumoulin attacks on stage nineteen of the 2015 Tour of Spain. Photo: Graham Watson

1 Tom Dumoulin at the Vuelta a España
2 Peter Sagan at the World Championships
3 Chris Froome at the Tour de France

Last year’s winner
Alberto Contador in the Vuelta a España

Tom Dumoulin’s spirited ride at the Vuelta a España has been voted your favourite performance of the year. Dutchman Dumoulin was the revelation of 2015, defying the ‘time triallist’ tag and holding his own in the mountains against a flurry of attacks from eventual winner Fabio Aru. His grit, determination and good humour in front of the camera have obviously endeared him to race fans. A new Grand Tour hero was born.

Peter Sagan’s world title was your second favourite performance, and one that has quite rightly elevated Sagan’s status to being the world’s best. Chris Froome’s battle for the yellow jersey at the Tour de France did not capture your imagination quite as much, and he sits in third place.

Honourable mentions
There were plenty of worthy nominations, including Taylor Phinney’s comeback from serious injury, Lizzie Armitstead’s savvy ride to net the women’s world road race title, Ian Stannard beating the odds and three Etixx riders at Het Nieuwsblad, and Sir Brad’s successful Hour record attempt.

Best team kit

Team Sky after stage one of the 2015 Tour de Romandie. Photo: Graham Watson

Team Sky after stage one of the 2015 Tour de Romandie. Photo: Graham Watson

1 Sky
2 Movistar

Last year’s winner
New category

A new category for this year’s poll: we thought we’d ask for your opinion on the most stylish pro squad. Kit featuring lurid colours and hundreds of sponsors’ logos were definitely off the menu in your voting. Sky overwhelmingly topped the table, the black-and-blue kit created by Rapha obviously being an eye-pleaser for the majority. With Rapha and Sky announcing a parting of the ways after 2016, we will watch with interest to see if the squad takes on a new look for 2017 or whether it will take the ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ route.

Spanish team Movistar take the runner-up spot. The team’s dark blue and distinctive green M logo on the front of the kit is stylish and easily distinguishable.

American team BMC Racing are third, with their red-and-black kit finding plenty of fans.

Honourable mentions
One respondent very honestly answered: “They’re all terrible, and I’m only answering this question to get to the next screen.” Elsewhere, Etixx-Quick Step, Wiggle-Honda and Cannondale-Garmin all attracted votes for their racing attire.


Most exciting international stage race

Fabio Aru attacks on stage fourteen of the 2015 Tour of Spain

Fabio Aru attacks on stage fourteen of the 2015 Tour of Spain. Photo: Graham Watson

1 Vuelta a España
2 Tour de France
3 Giro d’Italia

Last year’s winner
Vuelta a España

Tom Dumoulin’s three-week battle with Italian Fabio Aru really put the Dutchman on the map, and made the 2015 Vuelta a España the most scintillating Grand Tour of the season for many fans. The red leader’s jersey changed hands on eight occasions, with Dumoulin riding himself into the lead three times. However, the final mountain stage was too much for Dumoulin, and despite a valiant effort he dropped down to sixth overall, leaving Aru to claim his first Grand Tour win.

The Tour de France always creates a lot of excitement, but this year’s edition seems not to have stuck in your collective memory as much as the Vuelta — just as it did last year.

Former CW poll winner, the Giro d’Italia, has to make do with third place this year despite a tough parcours. Perhaps Contador’s dominance of the race proved too much for some.

Honourable mentions
Prestigious week-long stage races Critérium du Dauphiné and Paris-Nice were the best of the rest after the Grand Tours hogged the top three places, with America’s premier stage race, the Tour of California, also in the mix.

Most exciting British race

Tour of Britain 2015. Andy Jones

Tour of Britain 2015. Photo: Andy Jones

1 Tour of Britain
2 Tour de Yorkshire
3 National Road Race Championships

Last year’s winner
Tour of Britain

The Tour of Britain keeps its place as the most exciting British race for another year. Since its return to the calendar in 2004, the Tour of Britain has rapidly grown into a much-respected international event, and one that offers an alternative to the Vuelta a España as a Worlds warm-up. Norwegian Edvald Boasson Hagen claimed victory for MTN-Qhubeka in 2015.

The first edition of the Tour de Yorkshire took place in May, and it was voted into second place. The three-day stage race acts as a legacy event for the Tour de France’s visit in 2014, and Lars Petter Nordhaug gave Sky a popular victory in British cycling’s heartland.

Peter Kennaugh and Lizzie Armitstead’s victories in the National Championships in Lincoln in June complete the podium.

Honourable mentions
The second edition of the Women’s Tour gathered a good number of votes, as did the RideLondon-Surrey Classic. Appearing for the first time in the top order of voting was the Hill-Climb National Championships in Jackson Bridge, proving that the short and sharp discipline appears to be growing in popularity.

Most exciting international one-day race

Luke Rowe and John Degenkolb in action during the 2015 Paris - Roubaix

Luke Rowe and John Degenkolb in action during the 2015 Paris – Roubaix. Photo: Graham Watson

1 Paris-Roubaix
2 Men’s World Championship road race
3 Women’s World Championship road race

Last year’s winner

The Hell of the North, the Queen of the Classics… Paris-Roubaix may be known by several names, but it has unswervingly been your favourite one-day race since the CW poll began. The combination of gruelling, cobblestone-peppered route and a field of riders at the top of their game makes it one of the absolute highlights of any season. This year’s event was a notable one for British fans as it was the last outing for Sir Bradley Wiggins in Sky colours.

The men’s and women’s World Championship road races placed second and third in this year’s poll, with Richmond in the USA providing a testing route that saw Slovak Peter Sagan and Brit Lizzie Armitstead take popular victories.

Honourable mentions
The Spring Classics and Monuments provide the most interest, with the Tour of Flanders, Ghent-Wevelgem and Il Lombardia all featuring highly. Het Nieuwsblad and Strade Bianche are also two events that appear to have piqued your interest this year.

Most innovative cycle event

Moreno Hofland, Tour de Yorkshire stage two

Moreno Hofland wins Tour de Yorkshire stage two. Photo: Andy Jones

1 Tour de Yorkshire
2 Tour de France
3 Revolution Track Series

Last year’s winner
Women’s Tour

The inaugural edition of the Tour de Yorkshire grabbed your attention this season. The three-day Tour de France legacy event in May was the brainchild of Welcome to Yorkshire and Tour organiser ASO, and proved to be very popular. The start list provided a great mix of WorldTour talent and British squads, with the likes of Sir Bradley Wiggins, Ben Swift, Steven Kruijswijk and Marcel Kittel lining up — although the illness-plagued Kittel abandoned during the opening day.

Despite being over a century old, the Tour de France continues to find innovative ways to entertain race fans with new roads to ride, and variations on old favourites.

It’s great to see the Revolution Track Series complete the top three. The ever-popular event has redefined what track cycling should be about with big-name riders and a fast-paced schedule of events.

Honourable mentions
Several women’s events just missed out on making the top three, not least La Course by Le Tour de France and the Women’s Tour. Quite rightly, the much-heralded return of six-day track racing in the capital, in the shape of Six-Day London, was also popular.

Heroes and villains

Hero of the year

Peter Sagan, 2015. Watson

Peter Sagan, 2015. Photo: Graham Watson

1 Peter Sagan
2 Lizzie Armitstead
3 Chris Froome

Last year’s winner
Sir Bradley Wiggins

In the space of just one year, Peter Sagan has gone from bottom-pinching finish line show-off to thoughtful, married world champion. When the Slovak crossed the line in Richmond after a daring last-minute attack, it enlivened the race and few denied that it was a well-deserved victory. But when Sagan then used his post-win interview to highlight the plight of refugees in Europe, we saw a very different side to the man. His fan appeal rocketed, and there can be few who aren’t looking forward to seeing Sagan take on the Classics in the stripy jersey.

Fellow road race world champion Lizzie Armitstead was in second place. Having dominated the World Cup, she topped off the season with the Worlds win.

Tour winner Chris Froome is third after becoming the first British rider to win the big race more than once.

Honourable mentions
Choosing a hero is often a very personal thing, so we had plenty of nominations from readers. Geraint Thomas, Taylor Phinney and Alberto Contador all received nominations. So did long-distance rider Steve Abraham, who is
still attempting to set a new mileage record.

Villain of the year

Lance Armstrong. Credit: Yuzuru Sunada

Lance Armstrong. Credit: Yuzuru Sunada

1 Lance Armstrong
2 George Osborne
3 The UCI

Last year’s winner
Maxim and Valentin Iglinskiy

He’s back. After just one year of not occupying the top spot as your villain, Lance Armstrong has resumed his place. Armstrong has actually had a very quiet year, but his story of cynical cheating as a pro cyclist got back into the news after it was the subject of Stephen Frears’s movie, The Program.

More interesting is the man in second place: Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne. It’s likely that Osborne’s slashing of the budget to be spent on cycling in Britain has earned him a place on the podium.

Cycle sport’s global governing body, the UCI, continues to be a baddie for many people despite its efforts to clean up pro cycling and make it fairer for everyone.

Honourable mentions
Astana have been dogged by allegations, and Vincenzo Nibali’s disqualification from the Vuelta a España for holding on to a team car. Mayor of London Boris Johnson received some votes, namely for backtracking on his bid for the capital to host the Tour Grand Départ. We also saw nominations for “hostile spectators in the Tour” and “the motorcycle rider who brought down Sagan”. Absolutely.

Most entertaining cycling tweeter

3 July 2015 102nd Tour de France Press Conference THOMAS Geraint (GBR) Sky Photo : Yuzuru SUNADA

Geraint Thomas. Photo: Yuzuru Sunada

1 Geraint Thomas
2 Jens Voigt
3 Oleg Tinkov

Last year’s winner
Jens Voigt

Geraint Thomas makes another appearance in this year’s poll, showing that he has made a big impression in the past 12 months. Thomas’s good-humoured nature always comes across well in interviews and social media, and you voted him your favourite cycling tweeter. He may rib his Sky team-mates and other pro riders, but he’s always quick to turn the humour on himself too. His one-liners and photos posted during races give an insight into life as a rider at the top, and it certainly isn’t all glamour. He loves a bit of Welsh rugby, too.

German retiree Jens Voigt slips from the win last year to runner-up this year, but his often random thoughts on life, cycling and geo-caching continue to entertain.

New entry this year is Russian team owner Oleg Tinkov… but given that he’s barred CW from following him on Twitter, we can’t confirm whether what he says is entertaining or not.

Honourable mentions
Mark Cavendish, David Millar and Cycling Weekly’s own Dr Hutch all grabbed some votes, but inevitably there were some readers who simply don’t do social media. “I do not waste time looking at pro cyclists’ tweets. I’d rather be riding my bike,” said one. Fair enough.

Best cycling broadcaster

The peloton in Namur on stage four of the 2015 Tour de France

The peloton in Namur on stage four of the 2015 Tour de France. Photo: Graham Watson

1 Eurosport
2 ITV4

Last year’s winner

The self-proclaimed ‘Home of Cycling’ topped the ratings for providing the best cycling coverage during the 2015 season. It’s hard to argue against the extent of Eurosport’s coverage, with live broadcasts, highlights packages at various times of the day and in-depth analysis from experts. Eurosport is a must-have for any serious fan of cycle sport.

ITV4 comes in as runner-up, notably for its coverage of the Tour de France with a solid crew of commentators, presenters, interviewers and pundits offering their take on the action.

Although its cycling coverage is much slimmer than that of its rivals, the BBC still aired a few bits of live cycling, mainly through its red button and online service, and takes third.

Honourable mentions
For the first time ever, American broadcaster NBC attracted a number of nominations. The channel provides an alternative route for those on the other side of the Atlantic to catch up with cycling action. Sky Sports and BT Sport also had some nominations.

Best new cycling product



1 SRAM eTap wireless groupset
2 Zwift
3 Garmin Edge 20/Canyon Speedmax CF SLX

Last year’s winner
Hydraulic disc brakes on road bikes

With Shimano and Campagnolo having both previously released electronic gears, SRAM’s answer went one better — by ditching the wires. The American company’s eTap system was officially revealed at the Eurobike show in September and will hit the market in spring 2016 with a suggested retail price of around £2,000. You voted it the most innovative product of 2015.

In second spot is Zwift, a system of hardware and software that turns your turbo-trainer into a cycling game controller. You can use it to liven up your turbo sessions, and ride with others in a virtual space.

Tying for third spot is the well-priced Edge 20 GPS computer from Garmin and Canyon’s time trial machine, the Speedmax CF SLX.

Honourable mentions
One reader replied that they have “only just discovered padded knickers — genius”. Whereas another was keen to avoid anything new at all, saying sternly, “I do not follow product trends.”

  1. 1. Most impressive British rider of 2015
  2. 2. Races
  3. 3. Heroes and villains
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  • J1

    Armstrong as the villain, yawn. Where’s Nibali?