Do you know who the best men’s road cyclist in the world was in 2012? Wiggins? Contador? Boonen? Gilbert? They all won Grand Tours and big races, but if you go by UCI World Tour points then the best over the whole of the season was someone else. The rider who came top of the pile in 2012 was Spain’s Joaqíum Rodriguez (Katusha).
Rodriguez finished the season with 692 points, 91 points ahead of Bradley Wiggins (Sky) and 182 ahead of third place Tom Boonen (OPQS). Rodriguez won a couple of races over the course of 2012, and also came third in the Vuelta a España.
Points are awarded for top ten finishes in races and for top five finishes in stages of races. The 2013 season is about to start and the first race in the UCI World Tour runs from 22-27 January in Australia – the ‘Tour Down Under’ – where Simon Gerrans will be looking to defend his title on home soil.
The Grand Tours are in May (the Giro d’Italia, complete with Paul Smith designed leader’s pink jersey, or ‘maglia rosa’), June/July (the Tour de France, in its 100th edition) and August (the Vuelta a España, route just announced).
Below are the dates for each race:
22-27 Jan 2013 | Tour Down Under (Aus) | 2012 winner: Simon Gerrans (Aus)
Won in 2012 by ORICA GreenEDGE’s Simon Gerrans, the Tour of Down Under is a popular race that is growing each year. All 19 UCI World Tour teams are taking part.
3-10 Mar 2013 | Paris – Nice (Fra) | 2012 winner: Bradley Wiggins (GBR)
The ‘race to the sun’ is seen as the start of the season proper by many people, and Wiggins got his preparations for the Tour de France off to a perfect start in 2012 by winning this classic stage race. Expect the big guns to be battling it out for this famous title.
6-12 Mar 2013 | Tirreno-Adriatico (Ita) | 2012 winner: Vincenzo Nibali (Ita)
An obvious way to prepare for the spring classic Milan-Sanremo, this is a stage race across Italy.
16 Mar 2013 | Milano-Sanremo (Ita) | 2012 winner: Simon Gerrans (Aus)
Gerrans continued his good form last year by winning this spring classic one-day race. It is steeped in history and all the big teams have entered for the 2013 race.
18-24 Mar 2013 | Volta Ciclista a Catalunya (Esp) | 2012 winner: Michael Albasini (Sui)
Bradley Wiggins will be riding in the 93rd Tour of Catalonia in March. It is a very old race, and is very popular in Spain due to its history.
22 Mar 2013 | E3 Prijs Vlaanderen – Harelbeke (Bel) | 2012 winner: Tom Boonen (Bel)
The E3 comes at the start of a wonderful period of the bike racing season. Held in Flanders, it is a good preparation for the Tour of Flanders and has lots of hills (12, famously), cobbles and usually chilly weather, which the area is famous for and makes races in this part of Belgium so hard and legendary.
24 Mar 2013 | Gent – Wevelgem (Bel) | 2012 winner: Tom Boonen (Bel)
Starting in Deinze rather than Gent, this second Flanders classic of the UCI World Tour is, like all Belgian spring classics, often dominated by wind and rain. Lovely!
31 Mar 2013 | Ronde van Vlaanderen / Tour des Flandres (Bel) | 2012 winner: Tom Boonen (Bel)
Boonen’s performances in 2012 cemented his place in the history books last year. The Tour of Flanders is the biggest event in Belgian sport, and over a million people line the streets to see the race.
1-6 Apr 2013 | Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco / Tour of the Basque Country (Esp) | 2012 winner: Samuel Sánchez (Esp)
Back to Spain, and the Tour of the Basque Country, which is a mountainous tour held in the north of the country. Mentioned in Hemingway’s ‘The Sun Also Rises’, the tour is one for the climbers. Its ascents are steep and the countryside spectacular.
7 Apr 2013 | Paris – Roubaix (Fra) | 2012 winner: Tom Boonen (Bel)
One of the most famous and notorious races in cycling. Known as the Hell of the North, it sets out from just north of the French capital to finish in the velodrome in Roubaix on the France – Belgium border. It is a relentless, grueling race that is dominated by cobbles and unpaved roads normally only used by farm vehicles. If it is dry, the dust chokes the riders. If it is wet, the riders are prone to crashes and falls. Guaranteed drama and excitement.
14 Apr 2013 | Amstel Gold Race (Ned) | 2012 winner: Enrico Gasparotto (Ita)
Sponsored by Amstel Beer, this race is the largest in Holland and is known for its dangerous course and its many hills, including the famous Cauberg. The Dutch go ‘mad fer it’ on Amstel Gold day, and the atmosphere is cracking.
17 Apr 2013 | La Flèche Wallonne (Bel) | 2012 winner: Joaqíum Rodriguez (Esp)
Along with the Liège – Bastogne – Liège, this is makes up the Belgian Ardennes Classics.
21 Apr 2013 | Liège – Bastogne – Liège (Bel) | 2012 winner: Maxim Iglinsky (Kaz)
Following on from La Flèche Wallonne (only 7 riders have ever won both races in one season), this epic race is the longest of the classics, and has been running since 1892, hence its nickname of ‘La Doyenne’ (‘the oldest’). Starting and finishing in Liège, the route covers nearly 260km, and is known as one of the most physically demanding races in the cycling calendar.
23-28 Apr 2013 | Tour de Romandie (Sui) | 2012 winner: Bradley Wiggins (GBR)
A stage race in Switzerland. Bradley Wiggins continued his perfect preparations for the Tour de France by winning here last year.
4-26 May 2013 | Giro d’Italia (Ita) | 2012 winner: Ryder Hesjedal (Can)
One of the 3 grand tours, the Giro is loved by the purists and is an Italian institution. It is steeped in history and famed for its iconic stages and climbs. Lasting for 3 weeks, it finishes in Milan. Ryder Hesjedal became the first Canadian to win a Grand Tour last year.
2-9 Jun 2013 | Critérium du Dauphiné (Fra) | 2012 winner: Bradley Wiggins (GBR)
The mini Tour de France. People say that if you win the Dauphine, you’re likely to win le Tour…
8-16 Jun 2013 | Tour de Suisse (Sui) | 2012 winner: Rui Costa (Por)
The last chance to get some prep for the Tour de France into riders’ legs. This week long stage race involves a variety of different types of stages. Expect stunning mountain vistas.
29 Jun-21 Jul 2013 | Tour de France (Fra) | 2012 winner: Bradley Wiggins (GBR)
The big one. This year is the 100th edition of le Tour and will see the grand depart leave from Corsica, the only area of France never to have hosted the biggest and best race in cycling. Bradley Wiggins won last year and may well defend his title despite the assumed consensus that 2012’s runner up Chris Froome would be team leader for Sky this time round.
27 Jul 2013 | Clasica Ciclista San Sebastian (Esp) | 2012 winner: Luis León Sánchez (Esp)
Some see this one-day race as being the most beautiful setting for a cycling race. He coastline that the route follows is indeed spectacular, and the Spanish faithful will surely be rooting for a repeat of last year when Luis León Sánchez came home to win.
27 Jul – 3 Aug 2013 | Tour de Pologne (Pol) | 2012 winner: Moreno Moser (Ita)
The UCI world tour heads back east at the end of July as riders take on the Tour de Pologne. It used to be open only to amateur racers until 1993.
12-18 Aug 2013 | Eneco Tour (Ned/Bel) | 2012 winner: Lars Boom (Ned)
Lars Boom won the tour last year. It is supposed to be the Tour of Benelux, but it is yet to pass through Luxembourg.
24 Aug – 15 Sep 2013 | Vuelta a España (Esp) | 2012 winner: Alberto Contador (Esp)
The 3rd Grand Tour of the year will be a climber’s paradise. The Vuelta is know for its steep climbs and baking heat. The leader wears a red jersey, although in the past they have worn a yellow jersey and a gold jersey. Contador grabbed the win in 2012, his comeback from his doping ban finally complete. In 2011 Chris Froome came a surprise 2nd, with some memorable battles on the super steep sections of climbs.
25 Aug 2013 | Vattenfall Cyclassics (Ger) | 2012 winner: Arnaud Démare (Fra)
This race takes place in and around Hamburg in Germany. It is famous for giving amateurs the chance to ride the route on the day as part of a sportive event. Tens of thousands of people take on the course.
1 Sep 2013 | GP Ouest France – Plouay (Fra) | 2012 winner: Edvald Boasson Hagan (Nor)
Another circuit race, this ride has usually been won by a French rider, although Norway’s Edvald Boasson Hagen came good in 2012. It is centred around a small Breton village called Plouay.
13 Sep 2013 | Grand Prix Cycliste de Québec (Can) | 2012 winner: Simon Gerrans (Aus)
The first of two Canadian ‘classics’ on the UCI World Tour. The Grand Prix Cycliste de Québec has only been running since 2010. It is a one-day race that involves 4 climbs for the participants to conquer.
15 Sep 2013 | Grand Prix Cycliste de Montréal (Can) | 2012 winner: Lars Petter Nordhaug (Nor)
Two days after the Grand Prix Cycliste de Québec sees riders hot footing it over to Montréal for another circuit race. Again, it has only been running since 2010.
5 Oct 2013 | Giro di Lombardia (Ita) | 2012 winner: Joaqíum Rodriguez (Esp)
The final great event of the season is the Giro di Lombardia (a ‘monument’ of bike racing along with Milan-Sanremo, the Tour of Flanders, Paris-Roubaix and Liège-Bastogne-Liège). It is called the ‘race of the falling leaves’ as it takes place in Autumn. Held since 1905, it is a race that everyone wants to win.
9-13 Oct 2013 | Tour of Hangzhou (Chn) | 2012 winner: N/A (race cancelled)
This will be the first Tour of Hangzhou. It was due to take place last year, but was cancelled. Hangzhou is in eastern China, just to the south-west of Shanghai.
16-20 Oct 2013 | Tour of Beijing (Chn) | 2012 winner: Tony Martin (Ger)
Tony Martin has won both of the previous Tours of Beijing. Will he nab the hat-trick.
Duncan Palmer for MadeGood