Most Attacking Rider
Michał Kwiatkowski. He often throws in some attacks. Sometimes he blows up pretty friggin’ spectacularly: we saw that at the Tour. But when he’s going well, he seems to always hit the throttle at a good moment. They’re intelligent attacks: they don’t always work, but they always change the face of the race.
[Cannondale rider] Alessandro De Marchi is also a good candidate. The reason I’d go with Kwiatkowski is because when De Marchi attacks, he’s smart and he gets into the right breakaway and sometimes can win out of them. But nobody’s thinking De Marchi is somehow a threat in the overall context of the race.
Whereas Kwiatkowski, whether it’s a one-day race or stage race, when he attacks, it makes people nervous. When he attacks, there’s more consequence to it. And when there’s more consequence to the attack, it means more people are gonna react to it, making it harder for your attacks to be effective.
Kwiatkowski at the Tour de France, setting off on another bold breakaway. pic: Offside/L'Equipe
A bunch of times his attacks totally changed, whether he won or not, the face of the race.
Honourable mention goes to Jack Bauer and Martin Elmiger in stage 15 of the Tour. Jack got caught 50 metres before the line: it was horrible, but it definitely showed the drama of racing. Those guys were out there for 220km, you don’t see that very often. That was a breakaway in the vein of Jacky Durand.
Well, Omega Pharma didn’t nail it every time, but they were the best team in the Classics. The best team in the Tour this year was Astana… but overall? Holy cow.
I’d go with Movistar. They were a complete non-starter in the Classics but still, if you look at the overall picture, they won the Giro, had a third at the Vuelta, and then fourth at the Tour.
In the Grand Tours, you would notice that they’d have a few guys making the hard selection, it wouldn’t be just one isolated man, which shows they have the strength in depth.
Look at smaller races on the calendar too: Quintana won a mountain stage of the Tour of Burgos, Valverde won Flèche Wallonne. Between those two and a few of their smaller players, they were basically up there at every single stage race and/or hilly one-day race. The only bit they were absent for was the cobblestone Classics.
[Team boss] Eusebio Unzué was wise picking up Quintana after the 2010 Tour de l’Avenir. I remember he was on the market, Andrew Talansky got second in that Tour de l’Avenir so I took him and thought ‘my bases are covered’.
The Movistar team get the Vaughters vote. pic: Offside/L'Equipe
And then, Valverde was honestly surprisingly good: he’s getting older, but at the same time, he puts together a very consistent season. A guy like Quintana plays off that. You’re always assured of a certain result so it takes the pressure off Quintana. That’s best, opposed to having it all on just one rider as the team leader.
It’s tough though, and easy to shoot down my argument saying ‘wait a minute, Movistar don’t really have a sprinter, they didn’t do anything in the spring, and they didn’t do anything in the cobbled Classics’.
The thing with Omega Pharma is they dominated the Classics, they’ve got the current world champion in their team but in the Grand Tours, outside of Rigoberto Uran doing a good Giro, they weren’t really there.
Domestique of the Year
This one’s really hard too. I wouldn’t say he’s been an unsung hero, but I’d give it to Jakob Fuglsang for Nibali in the Tour.
He was there on the cobbled stage, he crashed pretty hard so had a few bad days where he wasn’t able to help Nibali that much. Overall, he was still back in the action pretty fast.
Fuglsang was supposed to be a star, had stage-race ambitions and so on. Boiling it down, he was a good domestique on the flat, in the mountains, on the rain, in the cobbles. You don’t often have a guy who can do everything, that can help you out no matter what the terrain.
Jonathan Vaughters was talking to Rouleur’s Andy McGrath. His full selection for all eight categories will be announced when we reveal the overall Rouleur Award winners on Friday.
About the Rouleur Awards
The Rouleur 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 Rouleur.cc before revealing the winners for each category on December 19. Below is a selection of their choices.
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