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  1. Froome tops Sagan as Best Male Road Rider in 2017 Cyclingnews Reader Poll

    Chris Froome has been chosen by Cyclingnews readers as the Best Male Road Rider of 2017 in our annual end-of-season poll. The Team Sky rider, who pulled off the Tour de France – Vuelta a España double, won with 32 per cent of the vote.

    Last year's winner Peter Sagan, who became world champion for a third time, ran Froome close with 29 per cent of the vote, while Giro d’Italia champion Tom Dumoulin was the next best placed on 15 per cent.

    Froome, uncharacteristically, did relatively little outside the Grand Tours this year, but readers were no doubt convinced by the historic nature of his achievements. Bernard Hinault was the last rider to win the Tour and Vuelta in the same year, but Froome is the first to do it since the Vuelta moved to late summer.

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    The Vuelta title represented the culmination of a six-year itch. Froome had finished on the podium three times, the first being his breakthrough as a Grand Tour contender in 2011, but never had the killer touch he displayed with such consistency at the Tour. There were a couple of minor wobbles in Spain this year, but Froome, shepherded by the strongest squad Sky have ever taken to the Vuelta, was a convincing winner.

    At the Tour, it was business as usual, Froome having grown into the yellow jersey over the years. It was, on paper, the closest Tour in decades, but it never felt like there was much suspense in the air. Froome joined an elite club of four-time winners of the Tour and closed in on the four all-time greats out in front with five.

    Froome’s season ended with a silver medal in the time trial at the World Championships. Dumoulin was the man who came storming up behind him on Mount Floyen to take gold – symbolic, perhaps, of Grand Tour battles ahead.

    You can read more at Cyclingnews.com

  2. UCI approves Axeon Pro Continental status

    Axeon Hagens Berman today announced the UCI has accepted the US development team's application for Pro Continental status next year.

    The U23 team, which will compete as Hagens Berman Axeon in 2018, started in 2009 as Trek-Livestrong before Bontrager picked up title sponsorship in 2012 and 2013. The team rode under the Bissell banner in 2014 and then signed Neon Adventures in 2015, changing the name to Axeon. Hagens Berman came on board in 2016 and will take over title sponsorship next year.

    "For us, it's another major step in the growth of the program and it wouldn't be possible without the support of Steve Berman and his firm, Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro, that stepped up so we can be Pro Conti," said team director Axel Merckx.

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    Since its inception in 2009, Merckx's development program has graduated more than 20 riders to the WorldTour, including the most recent signings of Neilsen Powless to LottoNl-Jumbo, Logan Owen to EF Education First, Chris Lawless to Team Sky and Jhonatan Narvaez to Quick-Step Floors.

    Hagens Berman has had a longtime relationship with cycling, sponsoring amateur teams in the Pacific Northwest before jumping to the pro ranks with Jamis from 2013 through 2015. Next year’s team will mark the first time Hagens Berman has taken up the title role with a pro team.

    "The team's transformation as it grows is thrilling," said Steve Berman, managing partner and co-founder of the national plaintiffs law firm sponsoring the team, "and we're proud to partner with a team as dedicated to excellence as we are."

    You can read more at Cyclingnews.com

  3. Dumoulin and Van der Breggen nominated for Dutch sportsman and woman of the year

    Tom Dumoulin and Anna van der Breggen have been shortlisted Dutch sportsman and sportswoman of the year. Both were voted for by a professional panel from NOS with Dumoulin going up against Formula 1 driver Max Verstappen and speed skater Sven Kramer. Competition for Van der Breggen comes in the form of track and field star Dafne Schippers and sailor Marit Bouwmeester.

    World time trial and road race champions Annemiek van Vleuten and Chantal Blaak made the original shortlist in the women's competition, while Dylan Groenewegen and Bauke Mollema had been in the original 11-man shortlist.

    Dumoulin has had a supreme season that saw him take his first Grand Tour title at the Giro d'Italia when he beat Nairo Quintana by 31 seconds in a dramatic time trial finale. His summer was sparse of racing as he geared up towards the World Championships, but brought in a national time trial title. The Clasica San Sebastian marked his return to racing in the latter part of the season. He finished fourth at the one-day race before going on to seal his second general classification win of the year at the BinckBank Tour.

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    The World Championships then brought more success with a surprise win in the team time trial with Sunweb and an emphatic individual time trial title, making him the first Dutchman to do so in the elite category. Dumoulin has kept his cards close to his chest as to his plans for next season, waiting until his team’s training camp to make the final decision.

    As ever, the Dutch were a dominant force in the women's peloton throughout the entire season. Van Vleuten and Blaak ensured a clean sweep for the nation at the Worlds while Van der Breggen took the Women's WorldTour title in a commanding fashion. Her historic run at the first-ever Ardennes Week played a big role in the victory.

    Her season hadn’t got off to the best of starts but she was at the peak of her powers come the end of April and she won Amstel Gold, Fleche Wallonne and Liege-Bastogne-Liege back-to-back. She headed to the US a few weeks later and took yet another big win at the Tour of California. It was not an easy task and she had to rely on bonus seconds to hold off a serious contest from UnitedHealthcare's Katie Hall. The summer of success continued with a second overall title at the Giro Rosa in July. She had hoped to take at least one gold medal away from the World Championships but still managed two silvers between the team time trial and the individual event.

    You can read more at Cyclingnews.com

  4. Readers pick Van Vleuten as Best Female Road Rider in 2017 Cyclingnews poll

    Annemiek van Vleuten (Orica-Scott) has been voted best female road rider in 2017 by the readers of Cyclingnews. Van Vleuten won by a clear margin of more than 800 votes over her compatriot Anna van der Breggen, with Coryn Rivera taking third. European champion Marianne Vos and Tour de Yorkshire winner Lizzie Deignan rounded out the top five.

    Van Vleuten enjoyed her biggest season to date and ended the year at the top of the UCI's World Rankings. The Dutchwoman looked to be in the best form of her life at last year's Olympic Games in Rio before she crashed. Despite fracturing her spine, she was winning again in a month and that form carried through into the 2017 season.

    Van Vleuten took her first victory of the season at the Cadel Evans Road Race. Her spring was consistent and brought a spell in the WorldTour leader's jersey but did not reap a victory. Van Vleuten's winning ways came back in mid-May with wins at Durango-Durango Emakumeen Saria and Emakumeen Bira. A national time trial would follow as well as two stages of the Giro Rosa and an emphatic victory at La Course. In October, she won the Boels Rentals Ladies Tour before closing her season at the World Championships, winning the world title in the time trial and finishing fourth in the road race.

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    Van der Breggen's success ensured a Dutch dominance throughout the 2017 season. The 27-year-old switched to Boels Dolmans over the winter and spent the early months of the season mountain biking across Europe. Her road season did not get off to the best start with illness having an impact. By April, she was heading in the right direction and took second overall at the Healthy Ageing Tour before heading onto a historic Ardennes Triple.

    It was the first time that the women’s peloton would be able to tackle all three Ardennes races and Van der Breggen dominated the week by winning all three ahead of her teammate Lizzie Deignan. Overall victories at the Tour of California and the Giro Rosa would follow over the coming months to give her an unassailable lead in the Women's WorldTour rankings. She would then pocket silver medals in the team and individual time trial at the World Championships.

    For Rivera, the 2017 season was a breakthrough for her after moving from American to European racing with Team Sunweb. Largely considered a sprinter, she proved many people wrong with huge performances in the hillier races on the calendar. Early victories at the Trofeo Alfredo Binda and the Ronde van Vlaanderen were a high-point of the season, as well as a surprise gold medal in the team time trial at the World Championships.

    You can read more at Cyclingnews.com

  5. Mezgec continues successful 2017 with Slovenian 'cross title

    The national Slovenian road race champion in June, 'cross national champion in July, Luka Mezgec has completed a hat-trick of titles in 2017 by taking out the 'cross title

    The versatile Orica-Scott rider also won a stage of the Tour of Slovenia and wore the race leader's jersey for a day in a memorable quartet of home victories for 2017.

    Signed to Orica-Scott to bolster its lead-out train from 2016, the 29-year-old enjoyed his most successful season since 2014 on the road, also claiming the Veenendaal Veenendaal Classic. While the road remains Mezgec's primary focus, he explained that once he claimed the mountain bike national title, he set his off-season sights on the 'hat-trick'.

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    "It was really special to take the MTB title again this year and then I knew I had to have a go at the cyclo-cross title also," Mezgec said. "There aren't really any Slovenian specialists in cyclo-cross which made it a unique opportunity for me to win three national titles in one year."

    Mezgec added that upon winning his first road title, after two silver medals, his thoughts turned to another mountain bike title having started his cycling career racing off-road and enjoyed success before his full-time switch.

    "When I won the road title, I thought it was once in a life time chance to win both events (road and mountain bike championships) in the same year," Mezgec said. "I had a break before the mountain bike event so it wasn’t actually ideal preparation but I was quite confident I could do a good result so I decided to race it. I always ride MTB in the off-season and I have raced a lot before.

    You can read more at Cyclingnews.com

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