2012 review: Cycling's top-ten moments

2012 delivered one of the most memorable years in recent cycling history. Richard Simpson and Matt Westby look back on the top-ten moments.

Last Updated: 18/12/12 3:01pm

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Bradley Wiggins: Won the Tour de France and Olympic time trial

Bradley Wiggins: Won the Tour de France and Olympic time trial

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The last 12 months have delivered one of the most memorable years in recent cycling history.

From Bradley Wiggins winning the Tour de France to Lance Armstrong being exposed as a fraud and Britain's success in the Velodrome at the London Olympic Games, the sport has dominated the headlines like never before.

Here, we looked back on the top-ten moments of 2012.

Tour de Wiggo

Simply put, Bradley Wiggins made history in 2012 by becoming the first British winner of the Tour de France, leading home a British and Team Sky one-two with Chris Froome. The display was made all the more impressive by the controlled domination of the riders in black and blue.

The team emerged with six stage victories and arrived on the Champs-Elysees to be greeted by a sea of Union Jacks. Wiggins proved his superiority in the time trial to put significant time into his rivals, while the work of his Team Sky domestiques put him in a position of power on the tough climbs.

Armstrong's fall from grace

The evidence mounted up and eventually the damn burst. On 23rd August Armstrong announced he would not be fighting the charges levelled at him by the United States Anti-Doping Agency. The publication of the 'Reasoned Decision' was damning and implicated a number of Armstrong's former team-mates, the majority of whom had testified under oath during the investigation process.

Despite the weight of evidence, Armstrong never admitted his guilt, even going as far as to tweet a picture from inside his Texas ranch with a wall lined with his seven yellow jerseys. That didn't stop the Tour organisers, the ASO, removing Armstrong from the race's roll of honour. The UCI opted not to re-distribute the wins, leaving them vacant.

Hoy wins fifth and sixth Olympic gold medals

Overlooked in the individual sprint in favour of Jason Kenny, Sir Chris Hoy dusted himself down to become Britain's most successful Olympian of all time at London 2012 by overtaking Sir Steve Redgrave with his fifth and sixth gold medals.

Having joined Redgrave on five golds by winning the team sprint alongside Kenny and Philip Hindes, Hoy then surpassed the legendary rower with a blistering performance in the final of the keirin five days later, beating Germany's Maximilian Levy into second place.

Tearful Pendleton bows out

Victoria Pendleton, the queen of British track cycling, brought the curtain down on a glittering career at a London Olympics of contrasting emotions. It got off to a disastrous start, with Pendleton and Jess Varnish being disqualified from the team sprint at the first-round stage after a breach of the rules.

Pendleton bounced back by winning the keirin with a dominant performance, but there was more disappointment to come, when she locked horns with long-term rival Anna Meares in the final of the individual sprint but lost out to the Australian 2-0.

Laura Trott: national treasure

Once again the Olympics helped raise the profile of a number of home-grown athletes - none more so in cycling than Laura Trott. In the space of a few days Trott became a national treasure, winning gold as one-third of the world record-breaking team pursuit squad, before taking a spectacular omnium gold.

If the team pursuit gold looked assured, the six-round omnium was anything but. Over two days Trott showed her all-round class and bike-handling skills to emerge victorious. With an effervescent personality and natural talent, the sky would appear to be the limit in years to come.

Cavendish makes it four in a row on the Champs-Elysees

By his own standards, it was a lean year for Mark Cavendish. He was unable to retain his green jersey at the Tour de France and delivered his lowest haul of stage wins at the race in five seasons, with just three.

However, one of those was his fourth victory in a row in the blue-riband final stage into Paris. Team Sky's order of the day had been to deliver champion-elect Bradley Wiggins safely to the finish line, but Cavendish asked be set up for the sprint. What followed was the seldom-seen sight of the yellow jersey, worn by Wiggins, leading out the world champion to blaze clear of the field and cross the line first in a glorious symbol of British cycling's ascent to the summit of road cycling.

Lizzie's road race silver

On a soaking-wet opening Sunday, the nation watched as Lizzie Armitstead won Great Britain's first medal of the Olympic Games - a hard-fought silver in the women's road race. With men's cycling seeing its profile continuing to rise on the road, the other side of the sport has not followed the same upward trajectory.

The hard work of Armitstead and particularly team-mate Emma Pooley during the race helped add to a compelling finale, one that many would argue outstripped the men's event in terms of excitement. The exploits of Armitstead and gold medal-winner Marianne Vos - perhaps the pound-for-pound best cyclist in the world - inspired a new generation of female fans to get on their bikes.

Tour of Britain

Come rain or shine the fans came out at the Tour of Britain, witnessing overall victory from Briton Jonathan Tiernan-Locke and four stage wins from Team Sky. The event grew noticeably in stature in 2012, with fan numbers rapidly swelling off the back of a landmark summer.

The riders, and particularly the Team Sky bus, were surrounded at the start and finish areas, with huge crowds following the race as it criss-crossed the country. The week-long event was rounded out with Mark Cavendish taking victory in both his final race as world champion, and for Team Sky.

Contador's triumphant comeback

Love him or loathe him, Alberto Contador announced his comeback from a doping suspension with victory in what was a superb Vuelta a Espana. The two-time Tour de France winner became embroiled in an epic battle with fellow Spaniard Joaquim Rodriguez over a mountainous route, but with the Katusha rider in irresistible climbing form, it seemed Contador would have to settle for second place.

However, Contador sensationally overhauled his compatriot with an audacious lone attack from more than 50km out on the medium-mountain 17th stage to claim the red jersey and, effectively, the overall victory.

The return of Boonen

Bradley Wiggins wasn't the only rider writing the headlines on the road in 2012. Tom Boonen marked his return to the top table with a blistering Classics campaign that brought the Belgian back from the brink. After a lean couple of seasons, Boonen was the early catalyst for a superb campaign for Omega Pharma - Quick-Step.

The team could not stop winning in the spring, Boonen leading the charge, starting at the Tour of Qatar. On his return to Europe, Boonen was the toast of Belgium, capturing E3 Prijs, Gent-Wevelgem, the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix. The fabled Flanders and Roubaix double was the highlight in a year that yielded 13 wins.

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