At the end of the year, I thought that it would be interesting to do a nice "Top 10" of what I consider to be the most brutal climbing performances of the season. So here they are:
10. Tom Danielson up the Powder Mountain, during the Tour of Utah.
9. Vincenzo Nibali's ascent on Planche des Belles Filles
8. Valverde's record time on Mur de Huy
7. Rafal Majka on Risoul, from the breakaway
6. The Froome-Contador clash on Col du Beal
5. Philippe Gilbert's new record up the Cauberg
4. Quintana and Aru on the Monte Grappa mountain time trial
3. Vincenzo Nibali's ride on Hautacam
2. Alberto Contador's ascent on Puerto de Ancares
1. Alberto Contador's ascent to La Farrapona
During the season, four new record ascents were set by the riders on the following climbs: Ca uberg, Mur de Huy, Risoul and Port de Bales.
After being hold by another rider for a period of two years, the title of the best climber in the world comes back on the shoulders of the Spanish champion, Alberto Contador. Even if he crashed out of the Tour de France while supposedly, being in his best form ever, he still managed to return and reach at the end of the second week of La Vuelta a Espana, the same climbing level as in his dominating years.
The Tour de France winner, Vincenzo Nibali showed during the July race, his best ever climbing peformances, confirming the upgrade made in the Astana colours. It remains to be seen if he has any room of improvement left in the climbing department for 2015...
While Nairo Quintana, Chris Froome and the eternal Alejandro Valverde didn't manage for different reasons, to surpass their best versions in the 2014 season , there were two young champions who made it on the scene of the best climbers in the world. The first, Fabio Aru proved that he has the endurance needed to win the biggest races in the world, unleashing a tremendous number of watts on the climbs of the third week both in Il Giro (Monte Grappa) and La Vuelta (Monte Castrove). The second, Rafal Majka, constant but not brilliant during the Giro d'Italia, managed to conquer in big style both the Alps and the Pyrenees during Le Tour. His breakaway triumphs could be placed in the same category along with the superb mountain raids of Richard Virenque, Michael Rasmussen or Emanuele Sella.
The climbing level of the whole season can be considered superior to the level of the last two or three years. Overall, the performances seen before the 2007 season were not reached during 2014 though.