Domestique wouldn't be worth its name if we didn't honour the riders who sacrifice their own chances all year long for their leader. We selected the sixteen best domestiques of the 2022 cycling season. Time to put them in the spotlights this time.
The BORA - Hansgrohe rider was voted 'Domestique of Giro 2022' after his incredible support for Giro winner Jai Hindley. Thanks to his support during the Passo Fedaia stage Hindley's biggest opponent, Richard Carapaz, was dropped. Whilst BORA - hansgrohe’s Tour was less successful, Kämna was again crucial support in the high mountains for the inconsistent Aleksandr Vlasov, who would eventually finish eighth overall.
Ellen van Dijk
One of the biggest workhorses in the women's peloton. Time after time, she pushes the pace at the front of the bunch. If it's not for Elisa Balsamo, it's for Elisa Longo Borghini. Of the 27 non-national championship victories from Trek’s season, Ellen van Dijk was responsible for seven directly, and was a crucial teammate in another eight. She's widely appreciated in the peloton, both as a dedicated teammate and an incredible time trialist, and has been rewarded with a contract extension until the end of 2024.
It’s the young American’s first season at World Tour level, but Sheffield has immediately shown himself as a loyal domestique for INEOS Grenadiers during the Classics season and beyond. The hard work for his teammates has resulted in him getting a few opportunities of his own, such as in De Brabantse Pijl, where he launched an attack, with the intention of helping his two Grenadier teammates, that would go unanswered - crossing the line 40 seconds ahead of the chasing pack. Beyond the classics, he’s helped Ethan Hayter win several sprints and used his motor to great affect across the season.
Danny van Poppel
He is a highly valued lead-out rider within BORA - hansgrohe. Sam Bennett thanked him multiple times after some good results, including two fabulous lead-outs in the opening three stages of La Vuelta, and the rain-soaked Eschborn-Frankfurt one day race. At the European Championships, he was crucial in Fabio Jakobsen’s sprint towards the European title.
A familiar face in the peloton at a new team this season, the Jumbo-Visma man was immediately an important part of the Classics team. His part in the historic 1-2-3 in the first stage of Paris-Nice was a season highlight, and the Frenchman was rewarded with the stage win and yellow jersey as a result. He was the only man who could match Wout van Aert in the E3 Saxo Bank Classic, and his role in securing both the yellow and green jersey during the Tour de France can’t be forgotten either!
When you talk about Siamese twins in the Tour de France, Madouas’ bond with David Gaudu springs to mind. Whenever his leader was struggling, Valentin was there to rescue him, with the duo finishing within ten places of each other on five separate mountain stages. Outside of Le Tour, he was invaluable help to Michael Storer in the Ventoux Challenge, and shone in a team leader role at the Tour du Limousin. His tenacity in The Tour of Flanders was rewarded with an amazing podium finish, ahead of Tadej Pogačar.
Arnaud Démare finished on the podium of a race for Groupama-FDJ 15 times this season, and Ramon Sinkeldam was his lead-out man for 80 percent of them. This is no coincidence. One of the best lead-out men in the world, Sinkeldam has been a crucial cog in the FDJ sprint machine. Whichever team ends up signing him next year will be safe in the knowledge that their sprinter will be in the hunt for victory, in a large part thanks to Sinkeldam’s skillset.
When you have the fastest sprinter on earth in your squad, the team needs to make sure they bring her to the front at the right moment. No one was better in that job than Charlotte Kool. Of Wiebes’ 20 on-road wins this year for Team DSM, Charlotte Kool was there for 16 of them. And for one of the rare Wiebes podium places? Kool was the only rider ahead of her. Lorena Wiebes and Charlotte Kool were a lethal duo.
Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team is very lucky to have this guy in their team since the start of the 2022 season. Louis Vervaeke showed himself to be an important domestique in the successful team around Remco Evenepoel. He was especially crucial in Evenepoel’s dominant win at La Vuelta, where he took on the role of several mountain domestiques in a depleted Quick-Step team deep into the race.
After going for own glory in the first part of the season, this nominee put himself in the domestique role for Tadej Pogacar at the Tour de France. On the Col d’Azet, he demolished the peloton in an attempt to hurt Jonas Vingegaard, setting a pace so fierce it resulted in a new climbing record, over two minutes faster than the previous best. Although Pogačar couldn’t regain the yellow jersey, the work of McNulty gave Tadej the best chance possible.
The defending champion of this contest. After four seasons at Trek-Segafredo it’s fair to say Audrey Cordon-Ragot is one of the pillars of the team. 2022 was no exception as she always put the team goals before her own success. Crucial in many of the victories of teammates Van Dijk and Balsamo, our defending champion also excelled when given her chance at taking victory, with four victories to her name.
Ilan Van Wilder
One of the crucial riders in the support of Remco Evenepoel. In the youth categories the two were opponents, but rivalries were cast aside this season, where Van Wilder showed himself a loyal domestique towards Evenepoel. The 22 year-old was a key component of Evenepoel’s Vuelta victory, especially in the high mountains of stage 14, where an off-form Evenepoel managed to limit his losses to Roglic, thanks to a steady, high pace set by Van Wilder until just three kilometres to go.
Nathan Van Hooydonck
Whilst less apparent than Laporte, Van Hooydonck was no less crucial to Jumbo Visma’s success this season. As one of Van Aert’s most loyal domestiques, our nominee helped his leader towards multiple victories, often doing the hard work before the cameras were even turned on. Nathan is someone everyone on his team could count on, and someone every other team wished they had.
One of the surprises of the season. The young Italian excelled individually multiple times, but whenever a strong leader was in the race, she went into full domestique mode. Remember her efforts at Tour de France Femmes when her leader Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig had bad luck. A really big time-trialing engine meant Guazzini could keep the pace high, and with a contract with FDJ-Suez-Futurscope until the end of the 2025 season, we’re excited to see how this young rider progresses.
One of the most underrated riders in the peloton. A real mountain domestique who helps his leader on every uphill section. Whenever his team tries to make the race hard, Verona is there for the long and hard pulls. Years of work has, until this season, gone unrewarded. But Verona finally took his first pro win in this years’ Criterium du Dauphiné, winning stage seven by 13 seconds over rampaging Primoz Roglic, after 103 kilometres in the breakaway. A well deserved victory for a loyal domestique. He was crucial support for Enric Mas in the battle for the La Vuelta GC victory against Remco Evenepoel.
As a key member of the Jumbo Visma Classics team, our last nominee showed his value in every hard race, including Le Tour. He was an able teammate for Jonas Vingegaard, getting in key breakaways in the high mountains to provide support late into the stage. Benoot must have helped the team towards big success this year, and although a crash with a car in training shortly after San Sebastian curtailed his season prematurely, he’s sure to be back to his best next year.