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What a vintage – who had a standout 2023 in cycling?

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From the first day of road racing in Australia to the season finale in Asia, via a UCI Mountain Bike World Cup series that took us from the Czech Republic to Canada, not to mention a mega World Championships held right here in the UK, the 2023 cycling season has been a truly vintage year

It’s been ten months of nail-biting action and immense storylines, and there have been some particular standout performances. In 2023 we have seen teams and individuals excel, and with the last of the major UCI racing done and dusted this week, we looked at the most successful riders and squads who have over-performed.

The history makers: Team Jumbo-Visma – Men

In the men’s road racing peloton, there really is only one place to start, the imperious Jumbo-Visma. Before the season, the team set out five goals: win the Tour de France, the Giro and the Vuelta; win Flanders and Roubaix; and have sprinter Olav Kooij make it to double figures in wins.

The fact that they secured these three Grand Tour victories with three different riders in the same season has never been done before – and is a piece of history that just speaks for itself.

With Primož Roglič’ at the Giro d’Italia, Jonas Vingegaard defending the Tour de France and American Sepp Kuss taking an emotional win in La Vuelta ciclista a España, this is a record that may never be matched in men’s cycling. Roglič will transfer to BORA – hansgrohe next year, so it certainly won’t be repeated in 2024 with the same personnel.


Elsewhere, Christophe Laporte went from strength to strength as a one-day rider, while sprinter Kooij also made his mark and got those ten victories, cementing the Dutchman as one of the best in the business.

Perhaps the only disappointment of the season was the ever-reliable Wout Van Aert who couldn’t quite match the incredibly high standard he sets himself. Ever the bridesmaid in 2023, the Belgian was more often second than first in the big classics.

In 20-year-old Norwegian Per Strand Hagens though – who was actually on the team’s development squad – Jumbo-Visma have a star of the future. With a stage win in the 4 Days of Dunkirk and victory at the Ronde van Drenthe and Sparkassen Münsterland Giro, don’t be surprised if Strand Hagens is right at the head of the action in the classics next year.

The total dominators: Team SD Worx

What is it with Dutch teams and road cycling? By far the most successful team in the Women’s WorldTour, Team SD Worx once again dominated the season. Their 61 race wins in 2023 was more than the next three teams victories combined, with Demi Vollering capturing the big one, the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift, to prove that she is the best GC rider in the world.


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A post shared by Team SD Worx (@teamsdworx)

Although Paris-Roubaix continues to elude the team, they still dominated the spring classics, winning Strade Bianche, Ronde van Drenthe, Gent-Wevelgem, Dwars door Vlaanderen, the Tour of Flanders and Scheldeprijs with victories for Vollering, Lorena Wiebes, Lotte Kopecky and Marlen Reusser.

Due to her stage race heroics, it’s easy to forget that Vollering then completed the Ardennes triple, taking the top spot at the Amstel Gold Race, Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège.

World Champion Lotte Kopecky has also had a phenomenal year, the highlight of which was her dominating performance at the Tour de France Femmes, taking the first yellow jersey of the race, winning the points classification and finishing second overall.

This dominance was best reflected at the Thüringen Ladies Tour. Having won the opening TTT, Team SD Worx then proceeded to take the victory in every single stage with each of the five riders winning one.

The gold rushers: Team GB mountain bike squad

It’s been a big year in MTB, particularly for riders who compete under the union flag. Tom Pidcock got things off to the perfect start by grabbing a brace of cross-country golds at the season-opening UCI World Cup event in Nove Mesto, Czech Republic. Pidcock, of course, famously mixes disciplines, and that kept him off the MTB scene for much of the season, although he did pop up again at the final round of the World Cup for another gold medal performance.

Evie Richards, meanwhile, was in the medals for the short-track at Leogang, Les Gets and Andorra rounds of the World Cup, before finally climbing the top step of the podium in Snowshoe, USA. Her heroics were enough to secure fourth overall in the elite women’s World Cup final table.


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A post shared by Evie Richards (@eviealicerichards)

Rachel Atherton and Jordan Williams snagged the only golds of the Downhill World Cup for GB in the first round at Lenzerheide, with Atherton also adding a bronze the week after at Leogang.


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A post shared by Rachel Atherton (@rachybox)

When things got really exciting, however, was the UCI World Championships hosted in Glasgow. There were events across 16 disciplines, but it was MTB where Team Great Britain really shone.

Pidcock was again on top form, taking gold in the XCO, and following that up with the bronze in the short-track version. His exploits were to be matched by the Downhill squad, who took the men’s gold medal through Charlie Hatton, only for another Charlie – Aldridge this time – to grab gold in the U23 cross-country. GB were ultimately third in the medal table for MTB at Glasgow, falling just two silvers short of eventual winners Switzerland. Not bad for a country that doesn’t have any mountains!

The best of the rest: UAE Team Emirates road cycling

Although they didn’t win a Grand Tour in 2023, UAE Team Emirates still had an incredible year and even adapted by focussing on other objectives.

The Slovenian phenomenon Tadej Pogačar won just about everything but a Grand Tour in 2023. The recent Il Lombardia, two stages at the Tour, Paris-Nice, an Ardennes classic double and the Tour of Flanders, just speak for themselves in terms of the man’s range of skills.

Elsewhere, João Almeida and Jean Ayuso continued their stage race development as they wait in the wings to crack a big one – and who could forget Adam Yates’s memorable opening day victory at the Tour de France? UAE even won the very first race of the year with Jay Vine taking the overall at the Santos Tour Down Under.

The sprint train is at full speed too. Juan Sebastián Molano has tasted victory four times and the wide range of winners among the 54 victories shows how adaptable the squad is.

Now we know we said earlier that Jumbo-Visma’s Grand Tour record won’t be matched but in Pogačar, Almeida, Yates and Ayuso, UAE Team Emirates do have as an impressive a lineup of top stars.

The up-and-comers: FDJ – SUEZ

With 19 victories, FDJ – SUEZ was joint second for wins in the women’s peloton with the French squad boasting a wide range of winning capabilities. Australian Grace Brown was their most impressive rider winning the Santos Tour Down Under and Bretagne Ladies Tour GC’s and a stage of the Tour of Scandinavia.


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A post shared by Grace Brown (@_g_brown)

Marta Cavalli also showed a return to form in the latter part of the season. Having suffered through injury and illness for most of the past year, the Italian took comeback GC victories in the Pyrénées and Ardèche tours.

The ever-entertaining Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig then put the cherry on top of the year, winning two stages in her home Tour of Scandinavia and then the Giro dell’Emilia one-day race. Her lieutenants Loes Adegeest, Victorie Guilman and Gladys Verhulst also made it to the top step themselves at different points of the season.

FDJ – Suez are not nearly as well-resourced as SD Worx, and subsequently this makes their achievements all the more impressive. With Annemiek van Vleuten of Movistar retiring out of the sport this season, women’s cycling desperately needs more strong teams that can stand up to the might of the Dutch powerhouse squad. Long may FDJ – Suez’ ascendance continue, we say.

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