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American Women’s Rider of the Year: Megan Guarnier
In 2015, Megan Guarnier (Boels-Dolmans) became the first American cyclist, male or female, to medal in the elite road world championship race in 20 years.
“All day, it was incredible, hearing the chants of ‘USA’ all over the course,” says Guarnier, whose bronze-medal ride at worlds secured her a ticket to the Rio Olympics. “We had multiple cards to play and we took advantage of that. At the end of the day, I was the one who got to take my chance, and I was very proud to be standing on the podium.”
While Richmond was certainly a highlight of the 30-year-old’s season, it was one of several in a year that saw her challenging from spring to autumn. There was a third-place at La Flèche Wallonne Féminine, a stage win and six days in pink at the Giro Rosa, a stage win and the overall title at the Ladies Tour of Norway, and a second national championship victory. That last win was particularly spectacular, as it came down to a 200-meter drag race between Guarnier and Coryn Rivera, one of America’s top sprinters.
But Guarnier’s biggest result of 2015 may have come back in March, when she won the inaugural Women’s Strade Bianche after attacking out of a select group containing, among others, Lizzie Armitstead and Anna van der Breggen, the two women who would finish just ahead of her in Richmond.
“It was great to be part of the races where Megan won this year,” says Guarnier’s Boels-Dolmans teammate Evelyn Stevens. “She has been a great rider for years now, and it was fun to see her have so much success this year.”
American Men’s Rider of the Year: Tejay van Garderen
This was a huge year for Tejay van Garderen. He was sitting in third place overall in the Tour de France well into the final week. And a few weeks earlier, he entered the final stage of the Critérium Dauphiné wearing the leader’s jersey. No other American rider gave his compatriots so many reasons to hope in 2015.
Of course, no other rider dashed so many American hopes in 2015. His run at the Tour ended when an illness knocked him out in stage 17. And Chris Froome ripped the yellow jersey off his shoulders at the Dauphiné with an attack on the final climb of the weeklong race. The Brit’s 10-second bonus for winning the stage was his exact margin over van Garderen in the final standings.
But if we’re being honest, this wasn’t a great year for the U.S. men. At least Tejay gave Americans reason to cheer.
“It is an honor to receive this award,” he says. “However, I don’t feel that I’ve earned it. I think the bar needs to be raised on this award. With Taylor Phinney making waves on his return, Brent Bookwalter stepping up to another level, and Joe Dombrowski putting his injuries behind him, it will be much harder to win this next year, which will be fantastic.”