This year's worthy recipient is Philippe Gilbert.
Philippe Gilbert, in his Belgian champion's colours.
Let's just run through his incredible series of successes for the year:
- Stage win in the Tour de France, plus wore the yellow jersey
- Montepaschi Strade Bianche - winner
- Fleche Brabanconne - winner
- Amstel Gold - winner
- Fleche Wallone - winner
- Liege-Bastogne-Liege - winner
- Belgian ITT and road race champion
- Tour of Belgium - winner
- San Sebastian - winner
- Grand Prix of Quebec - winner
- Grand Prix de Wallonie - winner
- Ster ZLM Toer - winner
- Stage wins - Volta ao Algarve, Tirreno-Adriatico, Tour of Belgium, Ster ZLM Toer, Eneco Tour of Benelux.
When someone is this dominant, one can't help but wonder how he would go if he ever decided to focus an entire couple of seasons on overall Grand Tour success (I have wondered the same thing about Fabian Cancellara in previous years). Those fans will have to wait, though. Gilbert has stated clearly that he has unfinished business with the one-day Classics - specifically, Milan-San Remo. "La Primivera" is the only one of cycling's monuments that Gilbert doesn't have on his palmares, and that will be his overwhelming focus for the first part of season 2012.
Two other awards were handed out. The French Velo d'Or went to Thomas Voeckler, after his Tour de France 'heroics' of doggedly holding onto the yellow jersey through the mountains.
A common sight - Pierre Rolland paces team-mate Thomas Voeckler
and Cadel Evans uphill in this year's Tour de France.
For me - the real French superstar was his team-mate Pierre Rolland. He went everywhere that Voeckler went, pacing him up every mountain, and doing plenty of chase work on the uphills. Rolland also took out the coveted Alpe d'Huez stage with a thrilling ride when he was finally 'unleashed' to ride for himself.
The final award - best young rider - went to Peter Sagan. The young sprinter is shaping up to be the next Philippe Gilbert. Sagan is quick in a sprint finish, but comes into his own when the finish gets a bit lumpy. It'll be exciting watching him develop over the next few years, hopefully he and Australian Matthew Goss (who I'm big fan of) will have some great battles in the future.