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Panache 2022

Recognising the most daring and passionate riders of 2022.

23 December 2022

Moments of daring, risk, and flair are what make cycling the most exciting sport in the world. In tens of thousands of kilometres of professional racing every year, it is often the fleeting moments that become the most memorable. Sudden attacks, cunning tactics, heart-stopping falls, and gestures of selfless sportsmanship are when riders become legends. As a salute to the season that was, we’ve picked some of our favourite displays of panache from 2022.

TOM PIDCOCK

Tour de France, Stage 12

In an increasingly common display of multidisciplinary mastery, Mountain bike Olympic champion and cyclocross world champion Tom Pidcock took his first Tour de France victory at the age of 22 to become the second Briton to win at L’Alpe d’Huez. But beyond the simple stage dominance, it was the style of Tom’s outrageous downhill attack that earned him a place in this year’s Panache awards. Topping speeds of 100kph to bridge the breakaway, this was a rider in total control, coolly racing with a confidence that belied his years.

VERONICA EWERS

Tour de France Femmes, Stage 8

Heading into the final stage of the inaugural Tour de France Femmes, EF Education-TIBCO-SVB rider Veronica Ewers sat in 11th place. Determined to secure herself a top 10 position in this momentous race, a last opportunity presented itself on the seven-kilometre La Super Planche Des Belles Filles. A storied climb in the Vosges mountains that was extended to include a punishing climax with no tarmac and a steep finishing gradient, Veronica gave it everything to cross the line in seventh – earning her ninth position overall in the general classification in just her first year as a professional. Here’s what she had to say of the race:

“I’m really excited about what both I and the team accomplished. I feel proud, but I really want more now I know I'm capable of being with some of the top hitters in the peloton. I still fangirl over the tenured women. I lined up behind Marianne Vos a few times and I couldn't keep my cool.”
— Veronica Ewers

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JONAS VINGEGAARD

Tour de France, Stage 18

Panache takes more than performance. Sometimes, it’s the demonstrations of pure sportsmanship that create real moments of cycling history. The yellow jersey commands respect, and despite its draw, no rider wants to win it on anything but merit. For Jonas Vingegaard, this meant forgoing a chance to increase his lead over race rival Tadej Pogačar after he slipped while descending. Sitting up and waiting for his competitor, Vingegaard’s gesture was recognised with a handshake once Pogačar rejoined him – a display of true integrity, and one more than worthy of the shirt on his back.

ANNEMIEK VAN VLEUTEN

UCI Road World Championships

The palmares of Dutch rider Annemiek van Vleuten is enough to make any pro blush. Four times World Champion, Olympic Champion, three times Giro d'Italia Donne winner, and winner of the inaugural Tour de France Femmes in 2022, she’s a cyclist possessed with raw talent – and is no stranger to putting in the work. But perhaps her most impressive display of suffering came in this year’s World Championships. Just days before the 164.3km road event, Van Vleuten fractured her elbow in a crash, and would go on to spend the majority of the day buried in the pack nursing her injury. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, she attacked off the front and claimed an astonishing victory in the final kilometre ahead of race favourite and teammate Marianne Vos. Sometimes, all it takes is determination to beat the odds.

MATEJ MOHORIČ

Milan - San Remo

Pro cycling’s longest one-day race, Milan-San Remo’s mostly flat parcours offers sprinters an early season opportunity to stretch their legs – and has long been a favourite of the sport’s fastest thanks to its often closely contested sprint finish. As a result, La Classicissima is never short on drama, but in 2022, we saw something completely different. Breaking away off the top of the Poggio, Matej Mohorič made use of a new-to-pro-road-cycling tool – the dropper seat post. Complementing his impressive descending skills, the bold use of this additional accessory normally found in mountain biking helped create a race-winning gap. Cross-discipline cunning strikes again.

FEM VAN EMPEL

Cyclocross Season

Every now and then, a young rider flies up the ranks in a shock of talent. And for Dutch pro Fem van Empel, 2022 has been the year of her ascension. Becoming the second woman in history to win four Cyclo-cross World Cup races in a row, she’s taken the season by storm – already earning her rightful place on the Panache awards. At the time of writing, she’s won six of the 14 races in the series, and never placed below second in the others. With a national under-23 mountain bike championship title to her name and a clutch of podium placements at notable cross races, she’s another example of multidisciplinary dominance, and at just 20 years old, truly has the world at her cleats.

BINIAM GIRMAY

Giro d'Italia

The funny thing about firsts is, they often all come at once. And in the case of Biniam Girmay, 2022 has been a year of them. At just 22 years old, he became the first black African rider to win a stage of the Giro d’Italia (and a Grand Tour) when he pipped Mathieu van der Poel to the line following a lumpy 196km stage 10 from Pescara. Earlier in the year, the young Eritrean had already etched his name into the history books once with a convincing win at Gent-Wevelgem in March, making him the first African to win a Belgian cobbled classic. His other first? Perhaps one he’d rather forget. During the customary post-stage podium awards, Girmay caught the cork of the Prosecco bottle square in the eye, forcing him to abandon the race (but don’t worry – he’s fully recovered now).

AND FINALLY…

Panache takes many forms, and is by no means restricted to WorldTour dates or big budget races. In the search for cycling with heart, we asked Rapha athlete and ultra-distance superwoman Lael Wilcox for her top moments of 2022:

“I nominate Ana Jager for racing the Triple Crown [Arizona Trail Race, Colorado Trail Race, and the Tour Divide] in a single season. She’s never seen a mile of any of the routes and rode them all blind. She won the Women’s category in both the Tour Divide and the Arizona Trail. What a crusher!”

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