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What's getting us excited for 2015

So it's goodbye to 2014 and hello 2015. We thought 2014 was great for cycling and not just because we put on the best Grand Depart ever! As great as 2014 was there's plenty to look forward to as the new road season prepares to kick off again. Here's a few things we're hoping to see.

1. Lizzie Armitstead taking more major titles. 

Having both recently turned 26 and been named Cycling Weekly's rider of the year Lizzie is clearly a rider of immense talent and results and presumably one with her best years ahead of her. 2014 started well with victory in Round 1 of the World Cup at the Ronde van Drenthe, a competition she ultimately won with a string of podium finishes. Commonwealth Games gold and a comfortable second in the Tour of Flanders(Lizzie never challenged for the victory as her team mate was up the road) were really impressive performances and showed a classy rider near the top of her profession. Whilst we waxed lyrical on twitter, facebook and blogs about her burgeoning palmares what struck us towards the end of the year was Lizzie's attitude that it could have been so much better - whether tactical errors like at the World Champs or being beaten on the day by slightly better riders she made it clear she could do better. Recent articles and interviews all point to a rider clearly focused on physical, mental and tactical improvements that will net her some even bigger prizes in the next few years. Flanders and the World Championship would be nice to start with!

2. The Brits In Belgium

When Ian Stannard stormed home at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and 'G' was flying at Paris-Nice then we really thought that Sky had got it right for the Classics. Two bad crashes though scuppered real hopes but there were still some impressive performances from G at E3 Harelebeke(third); De Ronde (8th) and Paris-Roubaix(7th) that left us wondering what could have been with a bit more luck. In addition Sir Brad also gave Roubaix a go and finished in the leading group. A year on we know that Wiggo is totally focused on delivering over the French cobbles, G surely cannot fall as many times and with luck a refreshed Stannard will come back even stronger. We cannot wait!!

If you've not seen it then this attack from G on the steep section of the Oude Kwaremont shows just how strong he was.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i3BQplTvLhQ

3. Le Tour 2015

Quintana; Froome; Nibali and Contador go head to head. Need we say more?!!!!!!!!

4. The changing of the Guard

Sep Vanmarke; Sagan;Kwiatowski; Kelderman; Quintana; Aru; Majka; Pinot; Bardet - Clearly many of these are household names already with a good few wins between them but also a lot of 'nearly, but not quite' stories. Only a fool would write off Disco Tom and Spartacus in the spring classics but they are both mid 30 now and surely will be challeged even harder by Sep Vanmarke who was outstanding in 2014 and Sagan who is itching for a monument. World Champ Kwiatowski will surely show off the famous stripes in the Ardennes while In the longer stage races more than just Rafal Majka, whilst giving a nod and a wink to older rivals, will be looking to take a Grand title.

Closer to home we should also start hearing newer names to get us excited.  Simon and Adam Yates are already established at World Tour level with Adam scoring big at the Tour of Turkey and Simon showing well in Pais Vasco, Alberta and the Nationals. Not a bad platform to build on given that both had bad crashes at key moments. They're not quite a household name like Wiggo yet but after the spring classics it looks like we'll see less of Wiggo on the road as he gears up for Rio. Luckily Sir Brad will have one eye on possible replacements as he leads the likes of Owain Doull at his new development team.

5. Tour crazy UK

Can we build on the euporia of the Grand Depart and consistently see great road races again in the UK?The Tour of Britain seems to get bigger each year, the Women's Tour was a huge and massively supported success and the venues for the 2015 Tour series will be announced shortly. In addition ASO were so taken by the charms of Yorkshire that they are supporting the Tour of Yorkshire in May. With start/venues announced and including Bridlington, Scarborough, Selby and Wakefield the event is set to reach the parts of Yorkshire that even the Grand Depart couldn't manage. Whilst full routes are yet to be announced we have everything crossed that they send the pros up the Rosedale Chimney.

6. The Hour Record

You wait years for an attempt then in 2014 the record went twice in a matter of weeks. Jensie used the Hour record as something of a last hurrah but was soon surpassed by Matthias Brandle. In the next few weeks Jack Bobridge; Rohan Dennis and Alex Dowsett will all seek to better the mens record whilst Dame Sarah Storey will also attemp to rejuvenate the interest in the women's record. To our mind though they'll all be upstaged by Wiggo when he has a go in June. Currently standing at just under 52km we'll not at all be surprised if 2015 gives us a new record nearer to 55km.