2019 Pinkbike Awards: Comeback of the Year Nominees

Dec 17, 2019
by Sarah Moore  
2019 Pinkbike Awards


Comeback of the Year Nominees


Whether you're a weekend warrior or a professional athlete, there's no two ways about it - it sucks to have to take time off the bike. Watching from the sidelines as your friends and fellow competitors get stronger and faster, while you sit in the hospital or physio's office wishing you'd done things differently. This year, it seemed like we had a major injury to report on every week. Rachel Atherton, Yoann Barelli, Cecile Ravanel, Damien Oton, Annika Langvad, Tahnee Seagrave, Aaron Gwin, and Brook Macdonald are just a few of the riders who found their seasons cut short due to injury, but the full list is even more extensive.

While we hope to write comeback stories about each and every one of these athletes next year, here are a few riders whose grit and tenacity landed them on the podium this year despite having major setbacks before or during the 2019 race season. The list includes World Champions Myriam Nicole and Pauline Ferrand-Prevot, World Cup winners Lars Forster and Jenny Rissveds and Enduro World Series medallist Adrien Dailly.

Last year's winner was Emil Johansson, finishing 4th at Red Bull Joyride after ten months of the bike due to a congenital 6th lumbar vertebrae defect combined with an auto-immune disease that slowed down his ability to recover and rehab from his back injury. Who will it be this year?









Why she's nominated

For two years in a row, Myriam Nicole has been nominated for Comeback of the Year. Last year, she came back to claim third in the overall despite a massive crash in practice at Val di Sole that had her helicoptered off the mountain and missing a round of the World Cup. This year, she had even worse luck, not even being able to make it to the first round after a training accident in April that left her with a horrific foot injury. She ended up being off the bike for four months and missing seven rounds of the World Cup circuit.

It seemed unlikely that this would be the year she would finally win World Championships, but she headed to Mont-Sainte-Anne to compete regardless. Against all odds, starting with over a dozen riders still to go, she put down a time that couldn't be beat. She finished just over a second ahead of Tahnee Seagrave, who was also coming back from an injury of her own. On a track that is known for is brutality and despite the pain in her ankle that caused her to limp as soon as she got off her bike, she made an amazing comeback, winning the World Championships stripes. Further adding to the perfect comeback, she took second at the World Cup final in Snowshoe, West Virginia, the following weekend.








Why she's nominated

Jenny Rissveds won her first Elite World Cup in 2016 at the age of 22, shortly after winning the U23 World Championships. Later that year, she became the Olympic Champion. Since then, it has not been smooth sailing for her, however. She suffered from severe depression and an eating disorder in 2017 and had no option but step away from the sport and her Scott-SRAM team to focus on recovery.

It was two years before she was able to take the start line of a major cross-country event again, with her new Team 31. Just being able to make it to the start line was a victory in itself. She said before the start of the season that she wanted to be less focused on social media likes and results and use her racing to inspire children to stay active. It was anyone's guess as to how she would do in the race.

Start position is incredibly important in cross-country races, and yet even after missing Albstadt due to illness, Jenny was able to make her way to the front of the field from the very back, podiuming in Andorra and Val di Sole, before taking the win in Lenzerheide, Switzerland in August. From the highest highs to the lowest lows, and back to the top. An astonishing comeback from the Swedish rider.








Why he's nominated

Adrien Dailly won almost every U21 EWS race he entered and continued his winning ways with three podiums in his first year in the Pro ranks. Then, in June 2018, after the third round of the Enduro World Series, he broke his elbow on the notoriously unforgiving trails around Peille in France.

After eight tough months and many surgeries, he finally got back on his bike in March, just in time for Rotorua. However, the comeback wasn't to be. Heading into the race weekend, he crashed on his elbow again. He was able to suffer through EWS Rotorua, but finished 56th. The following weekend, he finished 13th at EWS Tasmania. Over a year after his initial injury, Dailly made it back to the podium in Les Orres, France. Despite another crash that required stitches on his poor elbow in Madeira, he ended up finishing in the top 6 in five rounds this year. An impressive comeback indeed.








Why he's nominated

After the duo won the Absa Cape Epic, it looked like Lars Forster was going to give his Scott-SRAM teammate Nino Schurter a run for his money at the first round of the World Cup in Albstadt. Forster came second in the short track and was leading the cross-country race when he first slid out on the grassy turns before the tech zone. That was followed by an alarming second crash on the single track section before a final, race-ending crash came in the woods.

A concussion and a bone bruise meant Forster had to sit out the Nove Mesto round. He was back to racing at Vallnord but obviously not in the form that he showed at the first round, taking 29th. He progressed slowly throughout the season before his ultimate comeback at Snowshoe in West Virginia. Forster made his move in the final lap and shot ahead of Schurter for a dramatic win.








Why she's nominated

In 2014 and 2015, Pauline Ferrand-Prevot was a threat in every cycling race she entered, no matter the discipline. In 2015, she did what no rider had done before, holding World Champion titles in road, cyclocross and mountain bike disciplines at the same time. 2016 through 2018 saw her land on the podium several times, but it wasn't with the consistency of earlier years.

In December, the French rider revealed that the inconsistent results were due to leg pain and that after frustrating years where she didn't know what was wrong, she was diagnosed with iliac artery endofibrosis. The painful condition was affecting the blood flow to both of her legs and required surgery. Ferrand-Prevot wasn't able to ride for months.

She started the season off with a 42nd place in Albstadt, before progressing to 9th place in the next round a week later. After a 12th place in Vallnord, she didn't finish further down than fifth, winning the Val di Sole and Snowshoe World Cups as well as the World Championships, and sealing third in the overall standings. A comeback four years in the making.





With fairy tale returns from the lowest lows, Nicole, Rissveds, Dailly, Forster, and Ferrand-Prevot all showed true heart and determination in 2019. Which one are you most impressed by?







93 Comments

  • 161 1
 All amazing stories, but Jenny Rissveds beating mental illness to get back to the top gets my vote. Although Myriam winning world champs was one half of one of the best dh races in years!
  • 31 6
 Jenny! Amazing story.
  • 6 1
 Jenny
  • 5 1
 Same. Jenny is going to big next year.
  • 6 1
 OMG...agree with Waki 100%...
  • 2 1
 Agreed. My votes for Jenny.
  • 9 1
 Absolutely right. I've been in a long and nasty fight with a mental disease for most of my life. I am weathering it and fighting hard enough to work etc, but it's a bitch to be sure. I salute her for coming back and kicking ass out there. That is a monumental achievement for her. I salute everyone fighting any mental disease. It's a huge win to be able to live your life through it all even or especially when it doesn't feel like it.
  • 10 3
 Kim Kardashian is the comeback story of the year
  • 11 38
flag panzer103 (Dec 17, 2019 at 6:57) (Below Threshold)
 Its great she's better but everyone suffers from depression and nobody gives shit. Nobody wants to give me an award. I'm hard worker and regardless of my mental status I have to go in to a shit job for idiot management. Ill tell you what people tell me. Suck it up and do your job.
  • 8 31
flag pbfan08 (Dec 17, 2019 at 7:59) (Below Threshold)
 @panzer103: Right? Like not saying it isn't a real burden to deal with. But a whole internet forum appluading a professional biker to find the wherewithal to continue riding? Yeah sorry, DON'T CARE.
  • 5 0
 You never beat mental illness, you just learn how to live a life with it managing as best you can.
  • 10 0
 @panzer103: Dude, you get up everyday and go get it done. Good on ya. You manage to get some rides in too? Amazing. Take care of yourself We all have our wars to wage. And you know what? Jenny did suck it up and she did get it done. It's remarkable when you consider how many people just make their problems somebody else's.
  • 7 1
 @panzer103: Maybe work somewhere where you feel appreciated and like coming into work?

It also sounds like you expressing feelings of loneliness, maybe Time to work on building a new more supportive friend group that encourages and praises you for your hard work and accomplishments when warranted.


Actually you know what, maybe just go see a Therapist.
  • 10 2
 @philneuve: There are people with brains and physiology predisposing them for more severe levels of depression, it’s undeniable, they often need medication, various forms of therapy to be able to deal with this condition. But there are many people who are depressed due to environmental factors who ended up in a dark place and may recover to a great degree in a sustainable manner. The issue is that the lines between depression that requires constant treatment and depression caused by more or less fortunate life choices and social/ professional setting is very blurry. Someone’s workplace may cause sever psychological trauma which can be self inflicted to a certain degree, look no further than workoholics and perfectionists. There are tools for assessing and managing that like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Whatever we do, whoever we meet, whatever we eat influences chemistry of our brains and engraves certain behavior patterns. It’s very hard to change them. Even for “healthy” people.
  • 5 0
 I think that comeback stories may be the norm rather than the exception. Imperfection is the human condition, and every great athlete has to push through losses and struggles to win. Racers that are consistently dominant are few and far between (even Rachel Atherton or Cecile Ravenel have had their share of injuries and setbacks).
  • 4 0
 @panzer103: sounds like you don’t have depression. You have bad days sometimes and get in a funk. Clinical depression makes people suicidal, makes people not laugh for months on end, not get out of bed. There is a difference. If you really are depressed and are just sucking it up because your tough get some help. Your life will be better, any one close to you will feel better too.
  • 1 0
 Pompon's return to form was astonishing but Jenny from the Block has my vote!
  • 1 0
 @makripper: Is she that Hobbit..?
  • 3 3
 @thejake: please, as suspicious as his post sounds, as a mean of genuine respect to people who have clinical depression, let’s not succumb to misuse of psychological mechanism where humans are capable of bragging about who is more tired, more mistreated, more oppressed and who’s depression is more genuine. I am myself having a rather strong inner btch on some days (like this morning) and quite many people do, especially in winter time in absence of sunlight. Let’s not make some snowflakes develop a term “micro-depression” and ruin it for everyone, particularly people with severe depression. People around the world, their families, cloents and employers bear the burden of chronic bad days, or being a woose, cry baby, snowflake, you call it whatever you want. While condition is curable, sustained change is attainable, we must remember it is developed through years of abuse of tv, computer games, overprotective or neglecting parents, environments promoting doing nothing, supporting procastrination, alcoholis, drugs and what not. Not to mention disfunctional marriages since parents never putit together between themselves, divorces, acting out on kids, all this being passed to next generation and then next generation.

Most cry babies figure it out after they are 30 which means years of rewiring their brains to more productive and thus more full filing behavior patterns. Due to magnitude of the problem vs clinical depression, I’d say pussies are just as important to address. I am using offensive language because pussies get crap from people around them, but even more crap from clinical depression circles. Oh toughen up Charlie and Wendy, fear of losing job, gambling and divorce are nothing! you haven’t even had a suicide attempt! What about writing tons of sht on Social Media? Just stop using social media! Go out and ride! It’s an addiction, not depression! How dare you claim to be depressed!
  • 2 0
 @Dropthedebt: look up Kim Kardashian parks and recreation
  • 40 8
 Jenny came back because she wanted to win 2019 Pinkbike Awards.
  • 6 8
 If she would win the World Cup next year it would deserve to be the comeback of the decade. But it will count as next cade...
  • 25 0
 There is no more inspiring cycling story this year than Jenny Rissved's, particularly since many have not been as lucky trying to recover from depression.
  • 16 0
 Jenny for this year and hoping to see the Bulldog in the list for 2020.
  • 17 3
 Bulldog robbed
  • 12 0
 EMIL JOHANSSON ???????!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • 2 0
 Defo big name missing
  • 3 0
 "Last year's winner was Emil Johansson, finishing 4th at Red Bull Joyride after ten months of the bike due to a congenital 6th lumbar vertebrae defect combined with an auto-immune disease that slowed down his ability to recover and rehab from his back injury. Who will it be this year?" (the entire 3rd paragraph).

He is also nominated for performance of the year in one of the previous articles.
  • 1 0
 @aerob: I feel like a fool now hahaha
  • 1 0
 @aerob: making him NOT an nominee, jeezass man its not difficult.
  • 12 0
 Pauline Ferrand-Prevot
  • 7 0
 Jenny! Watched everyone of her races live this year. Having to deal with mental health issues myself and reaching the top of my field to unfortunately take a downward spiral: truly inspirational to watch Jenny overcoming the odds. Also, she appears to be a humble, kind and generous spirit. I’m also learning the reality that many discriminate against mental illnesses, it’s difficult enough to deal with a mental illness but then to deal with discrimination as well... I’m sure Jenny’s competitive spirit and persistence in winning encouraged her to overcome. Congrats Jenny and looking forward to many podium wins in your mind and in cycling. Smile
  • 11 1
 Pauline ! Her post race tears said it all.
  • 4 0
 Both Myriam and Jenny's stories are pretty amazing, but Jenny's comeback - WOW. Women's XC Elite WC is so fierce - I have nothing but respect for all the top riders right now. All gladiators.
  • 5 2
 I would have chosen Adrien Dailly if he would have been wise enough to wear elbow protections during his come back...

So---> Myriam Nicole / Magic Pompon, for whom I wish the best for the next season.

and BTW: looking forwards to see Jared Graves back to his best Wink
  • 1 0
 I, too, thought that maybe elbow pads would be a good idea for him
  • 3 0
 As much respect I have for all the nominees, which for every athlete is huge, there can be only one winner here. For those who have experience any form of mental anguish, whether personally, family or friends they will understand what effect this can have on a person.
To come through a mental health issue like this and then get back to the top of your sport again... That takes something special. Watching Jenny this year has been incredible.
Jenny Rissveds Salute
  • 3 0
 Go easy on your replies eh people. None of us can know a lot about the internal struggles Rissveds has faced, but good on her for coming back. One thing though, she has had a lot more support than many of us. To those out there facing challenging situations alone, here's a human you'll never know who truly believes that if you push ahead, you'll make it through to a better place.
  • 4 0
 Just seeing the title I thought Myriam Nicole, but I also think Jenny Rissveds and Pauline Ferrand-Prevot would be worthy winners!
  • 5 0
 It seems almost cruel to pick just one of these riders; any chance Pinkbike could give a joint award?
  • 5 0
 Comeback of the Year?

Paul Component !!
  • 1 0
 They never left.
  • 1 0
 Every one of these stories is remarkable in its own right. Every one takes a depth of mental fortitude that you need to “dig down deep” for. But... when it’s your own mind and brain telling you to do the very thing that’s causing your “injury,” then I’ve got to give it to the person that is able to dig themselves out of that. Most don’t.
  • 3 0
 Dailly! The man went through the mangle this year and still consistently outperformed riders in better physical condition.
  • 5 0
 Yoann Barelli
  • 4 0
 Waiting for bulldog come back
  • 1 0
 In reference to my Strava KOM best performance post,. I assume you also didn't see I went out yesterday and improved the 147th overall up to 87th place yesterday. #feelingrobbed
  • 1 0
 87th can be a great result depending on the total number of riders. Hard to get a KOM when there are lots of riders (and Strava SNAFUs where the KOM is e.g
half the time of the second fastest time). On sections with lots of riders, aim for top ten per cent or whatever.
  • 4 0
 Nicole !
  • 2 0
 pompon, Myriam Nicole for sure the mental to get back at that level is really a key chalenge
  • 4 0
 Jenny
  • 4 0
 Myriam Nicole, .
  • 3 0
 That Rock mountain Slayer 2020
  • 1 0
 POMPON!!! that was hands down one of the craziest comebacks ive ever seen! to come back and take worlds one of the most competative races of the year! GNARLY!
  • 1 0
 Why isnt Bulldog included on this? he is literally back on his feet, getting stronger everyday and riding his damn bike. Way more impressive than race wins
  • 1 0
 Incredibly close between Jenny and Myriam and really they've both accomplished the same thing. But I have a massive crush on Jenny so she gets my vote Wink
  • 3 0
 where's Yoann Barelli ?
  • 1 0
 Riding rigid bikes in the woods proving that Down Countrists are overbiked
  • 4 1
 No Sam Hill?
  • 1 0
 Wow, that's a tough one!!! Pauline, Jenny, Myriam 3way tie!!! Sorry, bros.
  • 2 0
 All inspiring stories but I have to go with Jenny.
  • 2 0
 Pauline 100%
  • 1 0
 PAULINE NICOLE MYRIAME Ferrand-PrevoT FRENCH POWER !!!!!!
  • 2 0
 Jenny or Pauline
  • 2 0
 yeah it's Jenny
  • 2 0
 Myriam for the Win !!
  • 1 0
 I vote for Jesse Melamed.
  • 1 0
 Dailly is amazing, would like to see him win!
  • 4 2
 Jared Graves?
  • 1 1
 Right? How is he not on this list?
  • 2 1
 Jenny, just for the six pack showing through her Lycra in that pic ????
  • 2 0
 Why no randy??
  • 2 0
 PAULINE FOR SURE
  • 2 1
 What about Jared Graves? He beat CANCER!
  • 2 0
 uh, he hasnt come back to racing. i think the "comeback" part is pretty crucial to the comeback awards.
  • 2 0
 Richie Rude.
  • 2 0
 Miriam nicole
  • 1 0
 Jenny no question about it
  • 5 5
 It's actually criminal that Emil Johanson isn't on this!
  • 2 1
 He is on the top performance list, cant' be on all of them.
  • 1 0
 Danny Hart.
  • 1 0
 PAUL BAS
  • 1 0
 Pauline!
  • 2 2
 why no emil
  • 3 0
 "Last year's winner was Emil Johansson, finishing 4th at Red Bull Joyride after ten months of the bike" from the 3rd paragraph
  • 4 6
 Who are those people?
  • 2 5
 Emily Batty!!! Too soon?
  • 5 3
 Depress because husband cant tag along?
  • 5 3
 I must say I feel for her, season went bad and she wanted some kind of reconciliation with the fans but instead she shot herself in the foot with that social media cannon... and then Jolanda made a commercial with her eyes crossed... that was a hell of a ride that bit
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