Cycling Moments of 2021

Dec 31, 2021

Let’s have a short retrospective on the biggest moments in cycling of 2021.

Mathieu van der Poel in yellow

It was Mathieu van der Poels first Tour de France. The king of cross and rising star in road cycling did want to win a stage and get into the yellow jersey in remembrance of his grandfather Poupou who back in his days became second at the tour several times but never wore the yellow jersey. Mathieu managed to accomplish that goal on the second stage and managed to keep the yellow jersey until stage 7. Everyone assumed he would lose it on stage 5 which was the first individual time trial. But he managed to get fourth and could keep the yellow jersey with an advantage of 8 seconds to Tadej Pogačar - the later winner of that years Tour. Mathieu left the tour after stage 8 to prepare for the Olympic MTB race.

Wout van Aert

I already wrote a whole article about Wout van Aerts accomplishments at the Tour de France 2021. In the meantime he won every cross race of in which he competed in where he didn’t have a mechanical. It still boggles my mind that he won a time trial, a mountain and a sprint stage at the same Tour de France. And now he is the total dominator in cross.

Jolanda Neff becomes Olympic Champion

This was a really unexpected but because of that ever so sweet experience. Jolanda Neff did win her last World Cup in 2019. In late 2019 she had a life threatening crash in training. She had to undergo several surgeries and had to stay off the bike for months. She came back in 2020 very slowly and was far from she were before her crash. At the start 2021 she still was not here but showed that she still might be expected among the very best. At the Leogang World Cup she had her best race so far with a fourth place. But she also broke her hand at this race with only seven weeks till the Olympic Games.

In the predictions for an Olympic Medal Jolanda Neff was not a name that was mentioned very often. Pauline Ferrand-Prevot was probably the most favourite of them all. She made these olympic games her most important goal several years ago. There also was another frenchie - Loana Lecomte - who at that point was at a staggering 100% World Cup winning streak after winning the first four rounds.

But during the race Jolanda showed her absolute brilliance. She even managed to safe a very dangerous situation that would have resulted in a crash for almost everyone else. After that she went to the front of the race immediately. Pauline Ferrand-Prevot tried to follow but had a little tumble after Jolanda overtook her. She never recovered from that and Jolanda won the Olympic MTB race. None of the favourites were on the podium in the end. In fact it was a historic all Swiss podium with Sina frei in second and Linda Indergand in third.

Greg Minnaar becomes World Champion

I’m not a huge downhill fan. I only watch it because there are so little XC races to watch. But of course I have my favourites and in downhill it is always Greg Minnaar. i don’t really know why. becasue normally I tried to side with the unlucky or new people. Greg Minnaar is neither of that. He did win more world cups than every one else. He stood on more podiums than everyone else. He won his first world championships in 2003. He is referred to as GOAT by the whole downhill scene. Now he is 40 years old and still as fast as guys who are half his age. On top of that he is a very humble person who is equally excited for others when they win. So that’s why I’m always for Greg Minnaar. And normally he delivers at least once per season he wins a World Cup race. This time he didn’t but instead he became World Champion again, easy as that. He was not exactly one of the favourites although he can never be counted out because he is always among the top ten. One of the favourited was Loic Bruni, he did win already four times. When he came down having not the result he expected and seeing Greg Minnaar sitting on the hot seat he pointed his finger at Greg - pertly in disbelief but mostly to pay massive respect to Greg. I had goosebumps.

Anna Kiesenhofer becomes Olympic Champion

What Anna Kiesenhofer achieved is what everyone dreams of as a kid when you are excited about a sport you are doing. She won the Olympic gold medal. That is amazing on its own no matter what support you get or not. But Anna Kiesenhofer didn’t have any support. She was not even a professional athlete at the time. She is a postdoctoral fellow in maths at École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne. In earlier years she has been in smaller professional teams but while preparing for the olympic games she didn’t have a coach or team. She was the only Austrian rider so she also didn’t have any fellow countrywomen whom she could work with. The women from the Netherlands instead had a plan they trained for months in advance. The also were all professional cyclists with many wins and World Championships under their belts. But somehow they forgot about Anna Kiesenhofer and did not communicate very well. So Annemiek van Vleuten became second despite first thinking she won until she had to realise that this Austrian women she probable never even heard of was already there 75 seconds in front of her.

German women team pursuit become Olympic Champions

To reach the final, each team had to compete in two qualifying heats. In each heat, the German team set a new world record. In the final, they almost caught up with the British - the 2016 Olympic champions had been the dominant team in this sport until then. In the team pursuit, the two competing teams start at opposite points in the velodrome. The two teams are therefore half a lap apart at the start. Franziska Brauße, Lisa Brennauer, Lisa Klein and Mieke Kröger performed brilliantly.