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by Neal Rogers
December 22, 2016
There were countless stories to emerge during the 2016 season that had great significance, and impact, on American cycling. These were the 10 most important.
1. Kristin Armstrong, Olympic time trial champion
2. Megan Guarnier, 2016 UCI Women’s WorldTour champion
3. Amber Neben, world time trial champion
4. Axeon Hagens Berman: Best development team of all time?
5. Andrew Talansky, fifth overall, Vuelta a España
6. Brandon McNulty, junior world time trial champion
7. Tejay van Garderen loses Tour leadership role at BMC Racing
8. Cannondale-Drapac goes without a WorldTour victory
9. Amgen Tour of California to become a WorldTour event in 2017
10. Mara Abbott’s heartbreaking ride at the Rio Olympic road race
The 2016 season marked the debut of the UCI Women’s WorldTour, a counterpart to the established, season-long calendar of the sport’s most important races that the men’s peloton has contested for years. The overall champion, based on points accrued throughout the season, is arguably the best (most consistent) all-around cyclist in the sport, and in 2016, that rider was American Megan Guarnier.
Guarnier, who defended her U.S. national road title in May, took WorldTour wins at two stage races, the Amgen Tour of California and the Giro d’Italia Internazionale Femminile, as well as at the Philadelphia International Cycling Classic. She shared the podium with Boels Dolmans teammates at Trofeo Alfredo Binda and La Flèche Wallonne, and finished just off the podium when riding in a support role for teammate Lizzie Deignan (née Armitstead) at the Ronde van Vlaanderen and Strade Bianche.
Guarnier, 31, pulled on the distinctive white Women’s WorldTour leader’s jersey following her GC win at the Amgen Tour of California in May, and remained atop the overall classification until the 17-round series came to a close in September.
“At Boels-Dolmans, we take each race as it comes and try to achieve the best result we possibly can at every race,” said Guarnier. “Whether that’s me or my teammates, the priority is that the team is on top. It’s been an accumulation of us consistently winning or landing on the podium that has put me in this position.”
Guarnier was not the Boels-Dolmans rider to record the most WorldTour wins; that accolade belongs to Deignan, who recorded five wins, including three one-day races, one stage win, and one stage race overall victory.
Guarnier was, however, the most consistent performer throughout the season.
“Our success over the last three years is a direct result of the focus on team,” said Guarnier. “It seems counterintuitive to say that when we’re talking about an individual rider’s win, but it’s true. Every rider brings what she has to the table, and we’re able to maximize our abilities and play off each other’s strength. I’ve thrived with this approach. It allows me to race on instinct instead of overthinking everything. I know my teammates share my goals. I know how they will race. I know how they can contribute and how they can win.”