race. (noun) a competition in which all the competitors try to be the fastest and to finish firstCambridge Dictionary
There are many measures of success in cycling. But for bike racing, it’s hard to argue that winning is the aim of the game. In our previous post looking back at 2018, we listed the most winning British Continental teams of the season. But what about the riders? Which British Continental and U23 riders crossed the line with their hands aloft most often?
UCI and National A race wins, combined
Matt Gibson (JLT Condor), in his final year as a U23 rider, won more UCI and National A road races than any Continental or U23 British rider, taking 6 victories in total. In fact, only one other British rider won as much as Matt Gibson in 2018: Geraint Thomas. Gibson’s victories included stages wins in the New Zealand Cycle Classic, the Tour de Normandie and the Tour de L’Avenir. He steps to the Pro Continental ranks in 2019 with BH Burgos. Look out for a full interview with Matt Gibson in the coming days.
Only one other British rider won as much as Matt Gibson in 2018: Geraint Thomas.
Gabriel Cullaigh (Team Wiggins) and Stevie Williams (SEG Racing) both took four victories each. And like Gibson, both were also final-year U23 riders in 2018. Cullaigh started the season with a bang, taking two stages in his first race (the Volta ao Alentejo), following it up with wins in the Rutland – Melton Cicle Classic and the Leicester Castle Classic. He also notched a 4th place in Stage 1 of the Tour of Britain against some of the best sprinters in the world. Despite his success, Cullaigh is still looking for a team next season.
Williams’ victories had a more international flavour. First up was his dominating ride in the Ronde de L’Isard where he took back-to-back mountain stage victories on his way to securing the overall win too. And then, a month later, in Stage 7 of the Giro Ciclistico d’Italia, he won once more in the mountains. This win was voted on Twitter as the best international win of 2018 by a British Continental or U23 rider (and there will be more to come on this in a later post). Williams’ wins were impressive enough to win him a World Tour contract with Bahrain Merida next season.
Now for the final: ‘Best international win by a British Conti/U23 rider in 2018’:— The British Continental (@BritishConti) December 15, 2018
Matt Gibson, Stage 5 Tour de L’Avenir @Matt_Gibson96
Tom Stewart, GC Tour de Normandie @mtb_tom
Stevie Williams, Stages 1&2 + GC Ronde de L’Isard @stevierhys_96
Stevie Williams, Stage 7 Baby Giro
Who else won more than once? Ian Bibby (JLT Condor) had another strong season, winning stages in the New Zealand Cycle Classic, the Tour of Japan and the Tour of the Reservoir. Bibby will join Madison Genesis in 2019.
Young sprinter Matt Walls – the sensation of the recent Track World Cup in London) – also took three wins: two stages of the Flèche du Sud and a stage of the A Travers Les Hauts De France – Trophee Paris-Arras Tour. At just 20 years old, he’ll be won to watch in 2019.
On two wins each were Max Stedman (Canyon Eisberg) – a stage and the overall of the Tour of Quanzhou Bay – Tom Moses (JLT Condor) – a stage and the overall of the Tour of the Reservoir – and Jacob Tipper (Memil – CCN Pro Cycling), who took stage wins in the Tour du Maroc and the Tour of Qinghai Lake.
UCI race wins
Looking at UCI race wins only, Matt Gibson and Stevie Williams shared the honours with four wins each.
Some riders may only have one once, but it’s worth noting the quality of some of these wins. There was Tom Stewart’s overall win in the notoriously brutal Tour de Normandie, Harry Tanfield’s infamous breakaway win on Stage 1 of the Tour de Yorkshire and Mark Donovan’s storming stage victory in one of the toughest U23 races of the year, the Giro Ciclistico della Valle d’Aosta Mont Blanc. And last, but certainly not least, Connor Swift’s win in the national road race championships; our pick for domestic win of the year.
National A road race wins
In the National A road races (i.e. the Spring Cup and Grand Prix Series, but not criteriums), Matt Gibson also topped the win list (winning the Stockton Grand Prix and the Bristol Grand Prix) with two wins. He shares top spot with Tom Moses after Moses’ stage and overall wins in the Tour of the Reservoir.
Methodology. Wins were counted from UCI classified races or National A road races only. Wins for secondary competitions (points, king of the mountains) were not counted.
Featured photo: Andrew Peat / Cicle Classic