SSS Awards | 2018 Breakout Rider of the Year

 Photo: Twila Federica Muzzi

Photo: Twila Federica Muzzi

 2018 Breakout Rider of the Year: Egan Bernal (Team Sky)

Feels like this was a pretty good year if you were looking for fresh blood in the peloton; A lot of new and exciting names came through, perhaps none more exciting than Egan Bernal. The Colombian sensation was a breath of fresh air in a Sky squad that needed an image boost as much as anyone in the peloton.

It can’t be underestimated how impressive his lightning-fast adjustment to the big leagues has been. Sure, the kid won L’avenir while racing at a Pro Conti level in 2017, but he was arguably the best domestique in Le Tour this year while making it over some of the toughest climbs in the front group. Any plans of “easing him in” have been surpassed by the possibility he’ll take a protected role into a grand tour next year, such is his ability.  

Winning the Oro y Paz in his homeland was a good start to 2018. An eye-raising performance at Romandie where he won the uphill Time Trial ahead of Primoz Roglic and Richie Porte and finished on the podium kept him squarely in the rest of the cycling world’s sights. By the time he won two stages and the overall at the Tour of California, it was clear the kid was no joke. All that came before his remarkable TDF debut, and means he’ll have big expectations to live up to in his sophomore season.

Bernal’s about as sure a bet as possible to be a future grand tour winner, and with the backing of a team that only really cares about July, you’d say he’s also a pretty good bet to be the first Colombian to win yellow in the not-too-distant future.

 

Honourable Mention: Primoz Roglic (Team LottoNL- Jumbo)

Primoz Roglic isn’t really young, but he’s young in terms of cycling. (Have you heard he used to be a ski jumper?) In only his third season in the World Tour, he’s progressed to the sport’s elite tier of grand tour racers. A TT specialist in previous seasons, the slimming down process of becoming a cyclist has him climbing as well as anyone. (A TT specialist losing weight and becoming a Grand Tour rider… Who’d have thought? It’s only a tactic that’s won 6 of the last 7 TDFs, last year’s Giro, this year’s Giro, and last year’s Vuelta).

The most impressive thing about Roglic is the reasonable set of cojones he manages to find space for on his saddle. While many of the other TT-riders-come-TDF-winners are committed to riding tempo, Roglic was amongst the most aggressive riders at Le Tour. It ultimately cost him a spot on the Podium as he paid for his efforts in the Stage 20 Time Trial, having attacked over the top of the Madeline the previous day, but don’t expect that to deter him in the future. Having come this far already, he’s another name to add to the list of future Grand Tour contenders.

Honourable Mention: Richard Carapaz (Team Movistar)

You know who had the highest placing at a Grand Tour this year? Not Nairo Quintana or Mikel Landa or Alejandro Valverde, who had a combined five attempts for a best placing of fifth at La Vuelta. It was Richard Carapaz as he finished fourth at the Giro, having battled with Miguel Angel Lopez for the final podium place and White Jersey. After taking a stage win in the first week at Montevergine di Mercogliano, Carapaz rode consistently throughout the whole Giro, becoming not only the first Ecuadorian to ride a Grand Tour, but being the first to win a stage and wear a leader’s jersey. While his more experienced teammates could be accused of flaming out several times this year, his talent and maturity were consistently on show in an impressive ride that saw him jump into the Top 10 on Stage 8, and never drop out.

While he wasn’t making headlines at the Vuelta, he capped off a consistent year by riding well in service of Valverde and Quintana, having made sure his name is included with Bernal and Lopez in the new group of super South American talents.

See you back at the social club,

Josh

Joshua DugganComment