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In the Cotton family household, the first week of December used to mark the time when the kids wrote wish lists for Santa Claus.
Whether LEGO sets and Nintendo 64s or Pantera CDs and drum pedals, Jim junior scribbled his selections and crossed his fingers for the big gifts to come.
But what makes my festive wish list some 20 years later?
Here’s my selection for the 2022 cycling Santa (and yes, it does include socks):
Egan Bernal returned and roaring: Egan, Egan, we all miss you. Seeing “Bernalito” back to his barnstorming best, whether at the 2.1-tier Tour Colombia or world-topping Tour de France, would be a comeback story to make even Scrooge smile.
Random revelations in the Netflix Tour de France series: Grizzled Quick-Step chief Patrick Lefevere enjoys a nighttime face mask? “Superman” López bops to Beyoncé on the team bus?
The Giro d’Italia’s stage 20 mountain time trial to deliver drama: It’s shaped like the infamous Pogačar vs Roglič Planches des Belles Filles time trial, and could play host to similar upset. The Giro’s cruel stage 20 ITT is prime for delicious drama – here’s hoping it holds up to the uphill hype.
A bottomless bucket of Maurten: Coz trail-running rocket fuel don’t come cheap.
A calendar free of COVID cancelations and mid-race retirements: COVID is so 2020, at least I hope. The return of Australian racing next January makes it feel like the pandemic era is almost over, yet coronavirus somehow still feels close – just cast your mind back to the sickness-stricken Suisse tour this summer. Less of that please, 2023.
Better press buffets: A day at a bike race can be made or broken by its press buffet fayre. Local artisanal produce and riverside barbecues are a rarity in a journo’s day typically dominated by packed baguettes, plastic trays, and even more plastic desserts. Dear Santa, bring the press corps some more luscious working lunches next year.
— Press Buffet (@PressBuffet) May 23, 2019
Peter Sagan to say it with his legs, not his social media: Peter Sagan c.2023: Bike racer or social media influencer? C’mon, Peter let’s see you on the winner’s podium again, not just on the sponsor-spouting social media.
Marianne Vos to keep crushing: Vos victories never get old, and the “GOAT” gobbled up eight more wins this season. Here’s to a half-dozen or more in 2023 for one of the modern peloton’s most gracious greats.
>>> Also read: Why Vos is the greatest cyclist of all time
A never ending Di2 battery: If you know, you know…
For France to sort out its coffee: France may rate itself as the center of haute cuisine, but it sure isn’t the coffee capital of Europe. And that’s why my Aeropress is at the top of every pre-race packing list. But dear Santa, please save me the early morning kerfuffle of bedroom-brewed long blacks?
A dry and dusty Paris-Roubaix: Give me a flat-out and frenetic “Hell of the North” over a swampy, boggy slugfest, any day. Sunny skies and a tailwind are on my wishlist for northwest France on April 9.
Annemiek van Vleuten to be awesome one more time: Only a gargantuan Grinch would deny Annemiek van Vleuten one more huge win in her retirement season next year. But hey, share those victories around a little as well, Annemiek – it’s more fun that way.
A gravel specialist to win gravel worlds: So we can talk about the players, not about the politics.
>>> Also read: Wrapping my head around gravel worlds
Mathieu van der Poel back making “MVDP” mayhem: An on-form and fully fearsome Mathieu van der Poel is a thing to behold. Remember his 60km solo in Tirreno-Adriatico last spring? After a difficult season for van der Poel in 2022, here’s hoping his strong early cyclocross showing is setting the Dutchman back to his devastating best for the road season to come.
Ciele trail running socks: Because it wouldn’t be Christmas without socks. And oh boy do Ciele make comfy socks.