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Blue Monday be damned - here comes an incredible 2019

Joe Robinson
21 Jan 2019

Some pro racing reminders as to why you shouldn't be down about Blue Monday

Today, January 21st, is officially Blue Monday. No, not a day dedicated to New Order's groundbreaking 1983 hit but the day in which it is claimed to be the most depressing of the year.

Originally conceived by a tutor at the Cardiff University's Centre for Lifelong Learning, Cliff Arnall, in 2006, Blue Monday was derived from a formula which includes weather conditions, debt level, low motivation, time since Christmas, time since failing our new year's resolutions and the drive to take action. 

So considering this morning's sub-zero temperatures and the fact that Strava predicted we will have given up our new year's fitness resolutions last Thursday, it comes as no surprise that today is the year's most desolate day.

However, it's not all doom and gloom, in fact far from it as there is actually plenty of exciting things to look forward to in 2019, not least in the professional peloton, and here is a reminder of what they are.

Team Sky's last dance

This year will be the last for Sky in professional cycling bringing an end to their decade-long sponsorship of the British WorldTour team. In that time they have been deeply divisive but also extremely successful winning seven Grand Tours and two Monuments. 

Expect fireworks as the team looks to cement their legacy with another Tour de France yellow jersey, a maiden Giro d'Italia title with a 22-year-old and a tilt at the Cobbled Classics, races that have eluded them throughout their history. 

Chris Froome will go up against teammate and defending champion Geraint Thomas at the Tour, both wanting the same thing, while Bernal will be given the chance to stretch his legs at the Giro. 

There will also be the issue of riders trying to place themselves in the shop window for contracts beyond 2019 so also expect plenty of explosive attacks and bids for victory from those usually shackled to domestique duties.

Froome goes for five

This year could produce history as Chris Froome takes aim at a record-equalling fifth Tour de France. If he manages it, he will join Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault and Miguel Indurain in lofted company.

Froome has come a long way since almost being let go by the team in 2011, now standing on the cusp of a seventh Grand Tour victory matching the likes of Indurain, Fausto Coppi and Alberto Contador. 

Yes, Geraint Thomas will also be there wearing the number one but Team Sky will be riding for Froome because they realise what is at stake and its hard to see anybody else coming out on top in July.

Granted, this is because the field will not be as strong as usual with many heading to the Giro (see next) but this doesn't make the task that much easier, he will still have to be on top of his game.

Also, win the Tour and Froome will also become the fourth oldest rider ever to take the accolade. Yet another remarkable feat.

The strongest Giro line-up in recent memory

What do Vincenzo Nibali, Simon Yates, Tom Dumoulin, Egan Bernal, Primoz Roglic, Fabio Aru, Alejandro Valverde, Mikel Landa, Bob Jungels, Ion Izagirre, Ilnur Zakarin and Rafal Majka all have in common?

They will all be trying to win the Giro d'Italia this year. Going to be a corker, isn't it? 

I cannot think of a more stacked Giro lineup in modern history and with a route perfectly balanced between the mountains and time trials, we could be in store for one of the most exciting Grand Tours since, well, last year's Giro.

Logic suggests Nibali and Dumoulin should be favourites with Yates hot on the heels but who can write off an Aru resurgence? Or an almighty Bernal unshackled from Froome and Thomas?

The only drawback of this awesome line-up is that perhaps the route to a fifth Tour victory for Froome seems a little easier than it could otherwise have been.

Cyclocross stars at the Classics

Bieles Cyclocross World Championships: Mathieu van der Poel's disappointment is plain to see

We got a taste of what triple cyclocross World Champion Wout Van Aert in the Cobbled Classics last year and it was alright, wasn't it?

He finished third at Strade Bianche, in the mud, after pulling up with cramp on the final climb into Sienna and falling off his bike. He then went and finished tenth at Gent-Wevelgem and ninth at Tour of Flanders. Not bad for a first shot. 

He returns for a second bite of the cherry in 2019, this year with the support of Team Jumbo, his new team.

Joining him will be Mathieu Van Der Poel, another starlet of the cross scene and arguably one of cycling's most natural talents. Also a former cyclocross World Champion, the Dutchman is a triple national champion across road, cross and MTB.

He is, also, arguably more talented than Van Aert and could conceivably challenge at the Tour of Flanders on the first time of asking.

Lizzie Deignan and her home World Championships

The UCI World Championships are returning to the UK for the first time in 37 years, with this year's rainbow races heading to British cycling heartland Yorkshire.

It's likely to be one of the most spectated editions in history, considering the seismic crowds that turned out for the 2014 Tour de France and continue to do so for the annual Tour de Yorkshire. 

One of the interesting sub-plots will be that of Lizzie Deignan, who will be targeting a second World title of her career in her home county. 

She is set to return to racing having given birth to her first child, Orla, in 2017 with the sole aim of the rainbow jersey, her entire season will be tailored around this ambition. 

If she manages it, the story will be spectacular but the odds will be against her considering the Dutch and their recent domination of the crown. 

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