It is not surprising that the winner of the Tour de France has been declared the best rider of the year by a jury of experts. But it is above all the way Tadej Pogacar managed in 2021 that ensured that he, and not other (Olympic) champions, is awarded the Velo d’Or.
Behind Pogacar, Jumbo-Visma riders Primoz Roglic, last year’s winner, and Wout van Aert finished second and third. World champion Julian Alaphilippe was fourth.
Two-time Olympic champion and three-time world champion Harrie Lavreysen was also among the nominees, as were world champion cyclo-cross Mathieu van der Poel and Olympic champion time trial Annemiek van Vleuten. They missed the prize, which was awarded for the thirtieth time this year. Never before has a Dutchman, or a woman or a non-road racer, won.
Pogacar not only won the Tour in 2021, impressively cycling the entire pack home in one of the toughest mountain stages, but he also won one-day races Liège-Bastogne-Liège and the Tour of Lombardy.
Just like in 2020, Roglic was the winner of the Vuelta and took the Olympic time trial title. Van Aert impressed by winning on all terrains in the Tour: in a time trial, in a bunch sprint and in a stage over the Mont Ventoux.