End-of-year review: 16 GIFs that sum up the 2016 cycling season

It's been a crazy year in cycling - so what better way to work through it all than with a bunch of animated GIFs?

Ahhhh what a year. What a crazy, exhilarating, maddening year. We were treated to tales of Olympic glory, a controversial World Championships, as well as the most batshit crazy Tour de France we’ve had in ages. There were near-misses and underdog stories in the Classics, and a coulda-woulda-shoulda in the Giro d’Italia.

It was also the year where for some cycling fans the last vestiges of Dave Brailsford’s credibility fell away like the end of a digestive biscuit left too long in a brew.

So much happened that it’s tough to process it all – so what better way to take the edge of things and work through all this drama than with a bunch of animated GIFs?

La Primavera nightmare

It’s the stuff of dreams, but also of nightmares. You’re coming into the final straight of Milan-San Remo and you’re comfortably the fastest sprinter in the bunch. The line is within reach. You are going to win Milan-San Remo. And then from out of nowhere your front wheel just seems to disappear out from underneath you. This is what happened to Fernando Gaviria in the season opener. Poor guy.

Tour of Saganders

The man who started off his career winning bike races for fun, but then had a worrying spell of only ever coming second, finally won a Monument! Fabian Cancellara came second and had to be consoled in the traditional Flemish fashion; by having his face stroked with the Mitten of What Might Have Been.

Hay-man, now you’re really living

Journeyman pro, Matty Hayman, stole the show after making it into the race-winning break at Paris-Roubaix with Ian Stannard, Sep Vanmarcke and the once-mighty Tom Boonen. He defied his advancing years to take a sprint victory (even if that final sprint did look a bit like it was being run in super slo-mo!)

Kruijswijk goes skiing

The Giro d’Italia will live long in the memory of Steven Kruijswijk as the first Grand Tour he could (and probably should) have won. The Dutchman was looking in good shape wearing pink going into the final few days, until he was bitterly unlucky and crashed into a snowdrift on the side of the road. The resultant expensive-bike-spinning-through-air-as rider-disappears-into-snow footage was both sad and faintly humorous – making it the perfect fodder for a gif.

Tour de Farce

How to condense one of the more bizarre Tours de France of recent memory into a single gif? Froome’s run up the slopes of Mont Ventoux grabbed the headlines, but this gif of Richie Porte face-planting the moto camera (part of the same crash that left Froome bikeless) just edges it for us for sheer slapstick humour.

And here’s a bonus one of Mark ‘ray of sunshine’ Cavendish talking about his bodily functions.

A truly helter-skelter Vuelta

The Vuelta was a rip-roaring competition from start to finish this year, perhaps a reflection of the deliberate efforts by organisers to make it a more chaotic, less-calculated affair than cycling’s other two Grand Tours.

A desire to return to a more instinctive, emotional style of racing was voiced by Nairo Quintana and Alejandro Valverde at a rest day press conference, with the pair even going so far as to suggest a ban on power meters in competition. Here’s Jeremy from Peep Show summing up the tension between data and drama pretty succinctly.

Olympic party!

British track cyclists absolutely smashed the competition in most of the events they entered at this year’s Rio Olympics, showing such dominance it led to some competitors question whether the GB team was 100 per cent clean. Regardless, Great Britain topped the cycling medal table once again, and here’s Callum Skinner and Owain Doull celebrating on the beach in Rio with a well-earned beer.

The road cycling medals were more of an international affair, with Fabian Cancellara taking gold in the men’s TT, while Kristin Armstrong took the women’s equivalent. Lizzie Armitstead missed the decisive move in the road race with American, Kristin Armstrong, nabbing the top spot on the podium. Belgian Greg Van Avermaet snagged the men’s road race.

World Champs

The big winners at the World Championships in Doha were Peter Sagan, Tony Martin, Amalie Dideriksen and Amber Neben. The whole championships were a bit of a sham, with many participants suffering in the extreme heat and those that didn’t under threat from generally diabolical driving by motos, ambulances and even police cars. Anouska Koster came off worst, seeming to temporarily lose consciousness and crash during a TTT event that should never have been given the go-ahead.

Back in a jiffy!

2016 was also the year we learned that the most detail-focused team in pro cycling have no idea what drugs their riders are taking.

Or what goes in packages that they fly across continents.

We also learned that when you’re used to hunting for every possible efficiency it’s actually much easier to fly a man carrying a tiny package of decongestant to France, via Switzerland, rather than buy it over the counter in a pharmacy round the corner.

We learned that there was absolutely no way Dave Brailsford knew what was in the jiffy bag.

But then we learned that actually he did know, but it was all, like, totes legit.

While all this was going on we’re pretty sure Oleg Tinkov was like.

And so it ends…

It’s fair to say 2016 has been a weird year, both in the world of cycling and beyond. Perhaps this gif from the recent Vuelta Ciclista a Costa Rica sums things up best.

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