Rouleur Classic

Juan Antonio Flecha’s selections for the 1 Awards 2014

Posted on

The phone line crackles, the reception is bad. We can barely make out the voice on the other end. Where on earth are you, Juan Antonio?
Portland, USA is the answer: not what we expected. This makes him an Argentinian-born Spaniard, who loved the cobbles of Belgium and northern France, enjoying the Oregon life.
Having retired from professinal cycling at the end of 2013, he is out there with his head in the books, studying for his business course. He hopes to have it finished by March so he can reprise his punditry role for Eurosport. It’s not all work and zero play, mind. “The waves here were great, they were really big at the weekend,” the surfing fanatic says.
As 46 brilliantly explained in issue 21 of 1, Flecha is a one-off: an independent thinker, intelligent, tough and tenacious, who always had a lot more to him than your archetypal professional cyclist.
His results were well above average too. During his long professional career, Flecha won a Tour de France stage and Het Nieuwsblad, twice finishing on the podium at Paris-Roubaix.
As he divulges some of his selections for the 1 Awards below, hopefully you’ll notice the careful eye he’s taken to the 2014 season, rewarding risk, daring and some figures who you may have overlooked.
Rider of the Year
Michał Kwiatkowski. He raced fantastically, it was a bit of a confirmation this season. I love this kid, the way he races from the front and the way he won the Worlds impressed so many people.
He really deserves the title and he’s still so young. Nobody knows what we can fully expect from him. He’s capable of winning one day races and going for a good Grand Tour result.
Yes, I could say Nibali for winning the Tour and Contador for taking the Vuelta after having his injury. But Michal was at a great level all year, and he’s moving forward so quick, already excellent.
Cycling is getting more common now, but this guy brings something a bit different: he’s not from France, Belgium, Spain, Italy, one of the traditional countries. He’s from Poland, he probably had to fight very hard to get where he is.
Stage Race of the Year
I really liked the Giro d’Italia this year. Okay, the crashes in the first week took away some of the competition. But with the bad weather, they really had to deal with difficulties for three weeks.
If I had to highlight an image that stays in my mind from the whole season, it’s that snowy day over the Stelvio in the Giro. That’s not something you see often.
If riders don’t want to race in these conditions, I don’t blame them. But should the race be cancelled? No, it’s been like this for years – if you want to race in good weather, go to the track. Think of photos of Coppi on the Stelvio or Paris-Roubaix raced in bad weather too.
Whiteout climbing the Stelvio on the memorable 16th stage of the 2014 Giro d’Italia. pic: Offside/L’Equipe
If you don’t want to race, that’s fine. But don’t ask for it to be cancelled, don’t promote that. You’re racing on the road, there’s a possibility bad weather will happen.
Of course, some of the roads the Giro organisers used this year were dangerous. They really need to take care and protect riders, at some point it’s not racing anymore.
I’d like to congratulate all the riders that finished the Giro this year. It wasn’t the hardest or the most competitive edition, but with that weather and the dangers, it’s really something to remember.
Directeur Sportif of the Year
For me, it’s Stephen de Jongh. He was probably the main guy, playing a big role for Tinkoff-Saxo. Nobody talks a lot about him, but he’s a great DS. It’s not always about tactics, it’s so many things, raising team sprit. He was playing a big role in that, keeping them focused.
Knowing him, he was probably exactly the same with his riders the day before Contador crashed out of the Tour and the day after. It’s not that he doesn’t care – it’s that he doesn’t show that he cares. That makes riders more removed and less nervous.
You can really see De Jongh has more in his life than just being a DS, that’s something you like to see as a rider too.
I loved how the team raced, especially during the Tour. They really showed a lot, able to win a stage and the King of the Mountains with Majka and two with Rogers.
Tony Martin, breakaway machine, makes good his successful move on stage nine of the 2014 Tour de France. pic: Offside/L’Equipe
Most Attacking Rider
He didn’t attack the most, but it’s for the effectiveness his ones had and the way he rode in the Tour de France – Tony Martin.
Coming first from a big breakaway of 20-odd riders, the rest trying to chase him down, he was gaining time on them downhill, uphill, on the flat stil. That was amazing. And he could still be a domestique of the year as well – a big champion still working for his team. Maybe he deserves that award too.
He did the same at the Vuelta last year, he almost won that day. I couldn’t believe how he rode, it seemed like he wasn’t riding a bike at times.
Juan Antonio Flecha was talking to 1’s 6. His full selection for the eight categories will be announced when we reveal the overall 1 Award winners on December 19.
About the 1 Awards
The 1 Awards recognise the best riders and performances from the 2014 professional road racing season – with a twist.
The winners will be chosen by a panel of experienced judges, comprising some of the most experienced minds in cycling, including Jens Voigt, Sean Kelly and Jonathan Vaughters.
Over the next few weeks, we will be publishing a selection of each judge’s choices, alongside their reasoning, on before revealing the winners for each category on December 19. Below is a selection of their choices.
1 Awards 2014: Jens Voigt’s picks
1 Awards 2014: Sean Kelly’s picks
1 Awards 2014: 10’s picks
1 Awards 2014: Allan Peiper’s picks
1 Awards 2014: Jonathan Vaughters’s picks

The Categories
Rider of the Year
Stage Race of the Year
One-Day Race of the Year
Team of the Year
Best Young Rider (Under 25)
Domestique of the Year
Most Attacking Rider
Directeur Sportif of the Year

Leave a Reply