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VeloNews awards 2022: Remco Evenepoel, male road rider of the year

With awards for best male and North American male, to 'WTF' of the year and surprise of the year – VN dishes out the biggest prizes of 2022.

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Lombardia’s leaves have fallen, the road worlds have been won, and the ceremonial crits are done. The only thing left to tick off for the male pro cycling season is the awarding of VeloNews’ end-of-year prizes.

VeloNews awards 2022:

So without further ado, here’s who takes the 35th annual titles for VeloNews‘ “best male” and “best North American male” of the 2022 road season.

And in an update on VeloNews tradition, there are a few bonus prizes for the men’s pro peloton, too:

Remco Evenepoel, male road rider of the year

>>> Runners-up: Wout van Aert, Tadej Pogačar, Biniam Girmay

Evenepoel became the first Belgian grand tour winner in 44 years. (Photo: Getty Images)

Well, it would be rude not to, wouldn’t it.

Remco Evenepoel almost has to be the road rider of the year. The wunderkind won a monument, a grand tour and the road worlds to join a very elite club. Before him, only Alfredo Binda, Eddy Merckx, and Bernard Hinault had achieved such a rare triple.

“It’s something I’ve been dreaming of,” Evenepoel said after his victory in Wollongong. “After a monument, a big classic, a grand tour, and a world championship, I think I won everything I could have this year. I think I will never have another season like this.”

Evenepoel’s victories weren’t only huge in name – the road worlds, Liège-Bastogne-Liège, the Vuelta a España – but also in nature.

When the kid wins, he wins big. Unstoppable solo victories at La Doyenne, Wollongong, and for his second San Sebastian winner’s beret showed the unmatchable raw power he boasted before, balanced with a newfound poise and patience.

Evenepoel’s relentless romp through the 2022 road calendar put him under the media microscope more than ever before.

The 22-year-old has been subjected to the baying Belgian press since he hit the WorldTour in 2019 and promptly powered to phenomenal victory in San Sebastian. The devastating Il Lombardia crash and subsequent comeback further cemented him into his nation’s hearts and elevated him to celebrity status.

This year saw the Belgian take his local fame and expand it into a new stratosphere.

Now in his fourth year in the WorldTour, Evenepoel stole hearts and won plaudits worldwide with sharp, savvy interviews and otherwise unexpected emotion. Lefevere’s “wolf cub” came of age to become leader of the pack.

Evenepoel dazzled in 2022. But awarding him the most prestigious prize on his palmarès (this one) wasn’t easy in a season stacked with sensational performances.

Wout van Aert obliterated the Tour de France, Biniam Girmay wrote history, and Tadej Pogačar was nearly inch-perfect. Almost any other year, Girmay, Van Aert or Pogačar would have taken home our virtual trophy.

But 2022 was no doubt the year of Remco, and that’s why he gets our “road racer of the year” award.

Neilson Powless, North American male road racer of the year

>>> Runners-up: Sepp Kuss, Magnus Sheffield

Neilson Powless gets better by the year.

It would have been too straightforward to see Sepp Kuss into his second-straight “North American male” award in 2022. The Jumbo-Visma climber king guided Jonas Vingegaard to the top of the Tour de France and lit up the Vuelta a España until he was written off with fever.

But this year, Neilson Powless wins the prize.

Powless kept EF Education-EasyPost pink in the eyeline all year long.

Victory at Japan Cup, eighth at Liège-Bastogne-Liège, fourth overall at Tour de Suisse, and two fouth-place finishes at the Tour pushed Powless right into the center of his EF team’s orbit this season. It seems almost unjust that the 26-year-old scored just one win in a calendar full of close calls and a narrowly-missed raid on the yellow jersey at the Tour de France.

Next season will see Powless ride shotgun alongside Richard Carapaz and continue to light the roads in search of one-day wins.

Don’t be surprised if you see some big things.

Also a big kudos to you, Magnus Sheffield.

The 20-year-old star-in-waiting brought Ineos Grenadiers victory at Brabantse Pijl and made his rookie season in the WorldTour look a breeze.

And in no particular order, a miscellany more men’s prizes:

Men’s team of the year: Jumbo Visma

Joint-equal with UAE Emirates on season wins, the Tour de France-toppers confirmed their status as the superpower of pro cycling in 2022.

Under-the-radar star of the year: Arnaud de Lie

It was only his first season in the WorldTour, but the 20-year-old sprinter sensation almost single-handedly saved Lotto-Soudal from its eventual WorldTour relegation.

Nine victories and 20 – yes, 20 – top-10s in the 2022 season says it all. De Lie is ‘da man.

Race day of the year: Tour de France stage 11

Forget the soccer world cup final, this was the best day of all sport, all year. Jumbo-Visma picking apart Tadej Pogačar on the Galibier and Granon was a five-hour thrill ride that will be re-ridden for years to come.

Surprise world TT champion of the year: Tobias Foss

Tobias who? Yep, that’s what Remco said.

Not-so-surprise world road champion of the year: Remco Evenepoel

It just felt inevitable, didn’t it?

Dissapointment of the year: Nairo Quintana tramadol positives, Miguel Ángel López allegations

A disappointment on so many levels. ‘Nuff said.

Descent of the year: Tom Pidcock plummets off the Galibier on stage 11 of the Tour de France.

>>> Runner-up: Matej Mohorič with his dropper-post San Remo madness

‘Good vibes’ moment of the year: Pogačar-Vingegaard descending truce

‘WTF’ moment of the year: Mathieu van der Poel abandons road worlds after hotel room altercation

Waking up in the dead of the UK night to catch the Wollongong road race and hearing Mathieu van der Poel spent the night in a police cell after administering some “citizen’s justice” … WTF?

Unforeseen danger of the year: Flying prosecco corks at the Giro d’Italia 

It wasn’t traffic islands, slick bends, or hidden potholes that the Giro d’Italia peloton had to keep watch for this spring. It was being in the pathway of an over-excitable podium prosecco cork. Mathieu van der Poel and Biniam Girmay were both victims of a cork-based battering on the Giro winner’s stage.

But we shouldn’t make light of it – Girmay’s Giro ended after he suffered a hemorrhage from a high-velocity cork exploding into his eye.

Best bike race tourism of the year: Siena, Italy (Strade Bianche), Catania, Italy (Giro d’Italia), Madrid (Vuelta a España).

Bike race bits to forget of the year: Driving in Catania (terrifying), a multi-storey car park in Saint Étienne (complete with a huge pile of poo in the stairwell), spending hours stuck in the car behind the E-Giro (even ever-chill passenger Andrew Hood got angry).