Images: Yuzuru Sunada
Last year, Philippe Gilbert was virtually unstoppable on the road. This season, however, found the Belgian struggling to find his winning form. That is, until he sprung to life with two stage wins in the Vuelta a España. Was this a case of timing his fitness to perfection? He entered the 2012 World Championships in Valkenburg among the heavy favorites with, as he put it himself, seven hours to save his season. On the final ascent of the famed Cauberg climb, he timed his attack perfectly and nobody could catch his winning escape.
Marianne Vos has been a dominant force in women's cycling of late, and 2012 has been her banner year. World cyclo-cross champion, winner of the World Cup, Olympic road race gold medalist... The one title missing from her palmarès was the world road title. Like Gilbert, there was a feeling that this would finally be her year. Racing on home soil, she led the Netherlands to the rainbow jersey with a dominant performance and a gratifying victory atop the Cauberg.
Two champions, destined to win.