Alejandro Valverde Crowned World Champion
With a thrilling course that included 28-percent gradients and relentless climbing, 38-year-old Alejandro Valverde left Innsbruck donned in the rainbow jersey for the first time in his career. Tom Dumoulin, Romain Bardet and Michael Woods challenged the Spaniard in an exciting four-way sprint, with Valverde leading out the group a few hundred meters from the line. Bardet finished in second and Woods rounded out the podium in an impressive third-place showing.
Annemiek van Vleuten's La Course Chase
This moment likely flew under the radar for many casual cycling fans, but Annemiek van Vleuten's all-out effort to catch and pass Anna Van Der Breggen in the last 50 meters of La Course was both heartbreaking and inspiring at the same time. With this come-from-behind win, van Vleuten is the only multi-time La Course winner, and she adds to her unmatched legacy in the women's cycling ranks.
Dan Martin Wins "Combativity" Award
We went back and forth on including other notable mentions over this, but something about Dan Martin's 2018 Tour de France showing was worth recognition. His long-range attack for the win with one kilometer to go on Stage 9 on the Mur de Bretagne was overdue and well deserved, and his ability to come back from his brutal crash on Stage 9 to not only finish the race but be in the mix on other stage finishes was nothing short of inspiring. Martin was awarded the combativity award for his heroic, never-say-die efforts, cementing his status of fan favorite in the peloton.
Marianne Vos Dominates Tour of Norway
Former world champion Marianne Vos returned to her consistent form with an absolute dominant series of performances at the Tour of Norway. Despite some stiff competition and close calls, she won all three stages and even snagged four of the six intermediate sprints to secure the overall victory. We were pleasantly surprised to see the growth in coverage for women's cycling in 2018, and we hope the trend continues next year.
Simon Yates Wins the Vuelta a España
The Vuelta a España is always one of the most unpredictable races on the calendar, and even when you think someone is out of the running, you never know what's going to happen. Simon Yates was able to reclaim the red jersey entering the third week and held off Alejandro Valverde and Nairo Quintana by relentlessly attacking in the mountains through the final few stages. Yates eventually secured his first Grand Tour win, redeeming his poor Giro d'Italia showing earlier in the year. Enric Mas and Miguel Angel Lopez topped the podium in second and third, respectively.