As we steadily careen toward the end of 2008, I thought it might be interesting (and ultimately, somewhat depressing) to take a month-by-month look back at the year’s top stories both on and off the bike. After all, if we do not learn from history, we are certainly doomed to repeat it. Are you listening to me UCI and ASO? Somehow I doubt it, but let’s crack open the almanac and see what happened in ’08 anyway.
January 2: The price of petroleum hits $100 per barrel for the first time.
January 18: After much speculation, Rock Racing announces that Mario Cipollini will return to the peloton in the Amgen Tour of California.
January 21: Stock markets around the world plunge amid growing fears of a U.S. recession, fueled by the 2007 subprime mortgage crisis.
January 22-27: Tour Down Under
Andre Greipel and the short-lived black kits of High Road do damage down under and give notice to the cycling world that they will be a force in 2008.
February 4: Iran opens its first space center and launches a rocket to space.
February 17-24: Amgen Tour of California
After being informed that Astana would not be invited to the Tour de France, Levi Leipheimer defends his 2007 victory with a convincing win in the TT.
February 19: Fidel Castro announces his resignation as President of Cuba.
March 9-16: Paris-Nice
Davide Rebellin finally wins the Race to the Sun after a stunning downhill attack which leaves young Robert Gesink on the verge of soiling himself.
March 19: An exploding star halfway across the visible universe becomes the farthest known object ever visible to the naked eye.
March 22: Milano-Sanremo
Fabian Cancellara rips away from the final group and holds on to claim yet another Classic in remarkable fashion.
April 6: Ronde van Vlaanderen/Tour of Flanders
Stijn Devolder attacks with 25k to go and does the Belgian National Champs jersey proud with a stunning solo victory.
April 9: Gent-Wevelgem
Oscar Freire proves yet again that he is a force to be reckoned with and handily takes the mid-week semi-Classic in his usual un-Spanish style.
April 13: Paris-Roubaix
Tom Boonen finds the moves and easily outsprints Cancellara and Ballan to take his second Hell of the North victory before an unfortunate night on the town.
April 20: Amstel Gold Race
Damiano Cunego wins a small bunch sprint at the end of his very first Amstel Gold Race and claims his first Spring Classic victory.
April 22: Surgeons at London's Moorfields Eye Hospital perform the first operations using bionic eyes, implanting them into two blind patients.
April 27: The Taliban attempts to assassinate Afghan President Hamid Karzai in a military parade in Kabul.
April 27: Liège-Bastogne-Liège
Alejandro Valverde takes his second Liège after the Schleck Brothers and Rebellin fail to distance themselves from the Spaniard before the finish.
May 3: Over 133,000 in Burma/Myanmar are killed by Cyclone Nargis, the deadliest natural disaster since the Boxing Day Tsunami in 2004.
May 10 - June 1: Giro d’Italia
Alberto Contador angrily comes off the beach to defeat a bunch of guys who would later be caught up in doping scandals and adds the maglia rosa to his growing collection of Grand Tour winners jerseys.
May 12: Over 69,000 are killed in central southwest China by the Chengdu quake, an earthquake measuring 8.0Mw. The epicenter is 90 kilometers west-northwest of the provincial capital Chengdu, Sichuan province.
June 8: Philadelphia International Championship / Philly Week
Matti Breschel wins in Philly after Metlushenko and Sevilla ride away with the early-week prizes. Teutenberg and the High Road Ladies dominate as usual.
June 8: In the Akihabara area of Tokyo, Japan, a 25-year old man stabs 7 to death and wounds 10, before being arrested.
June 8-15: Dauphine Libere
Alejandro Valverde surprisingly defeats Cadel Evans and Levi Leipheimer in the TT to win his first stage race outside of Spain.
June 10: Fire engulfs Sudan Airways Flight 109 after landing in Khartoum, killing 44.
July 7: A suicide-bomber drives an explosives-laden automobile into the front gates of the Indian embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, killing 58 and injuring over 150.
July 5 - 27: Tour de France
Carlos Sastre and CSC outmaneuver Cadel Evans, Christian Vande Velde and a bunch of dopers to win his first yellow jersey.
July 25: A series of seven bomb blasts rock Bangalore, India killing 2 and injuring 20 and on the next day, a series of bomb blasts in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India, kills 45 and injures over 160 people.
July 27: At least 17 are killed and over 154 wounded in two blasts in Istanbul.
July 28: At least 48 are dead and over 287 injured after bombs explode in Baghdad and Kirkuk, Iraq.
August 7: The 2008 South Ossetia war begins as Georgia and Russia launch a major offensive inside the separatist region of South Ossetia after days of border skirmishes between the two sides.
August 8-24: Beijing Olympics
Sammy Sanchez and Nicole Cooke take the Road Race while Fabian Cancellara and Kristin Armstrong are the fastest in the Time Trial.
August 28 – September 7: Hurricane Hanna causes 7 deaths in the United States, and 529 in Haiti mostly due to floods and mudslides.
August 30 - September 21: Vuelta a Espana
Alberto Contador takes revenge after being left out of the Tour and narrowly edges teammate Leipheimer to collect his third Grand Tour in as many tries.
August 31: USPRO Road Championships
Tyler Hamilton nips Blake Caldwell by centimeters to take home the Stars and Stripes jersey after a few dark years.
September 10: The proton beam is circulated for the first time in the Large Hadron Collider, the world's largest and the highest-energy particle accelerator, located at CERN, near Geneva, under the Franco-Swiss border.
September 8-14: Tour of Missouri
Christian Vande Velde and the Garmin-Chipotle squad finally gets the win and fends off a ferocious Columbia team which leads Mark Cavendish to multiple easy sprint victories.
September 12: A Metrolink train collides head-on into a freight train in Los Angeles, California, killing 25 and injuring 130.
September 28: World Road Championships
Allessandro Ballan and Nicole Cooke take home the rainbow jerseys in the Road Race.
September 30: A Jodhpur temple stampede in western India kills over 224 people, and injures 400.
October 3: U.S. President George W. Bush signs the revised Emergency Economic Stabilization Act into law, creating a 700 billion dollar Treasury fund to purchase failing bank assets.
October 12: Paris-Tours
Philippe Gilbert gets it right after some near misses and foils the sprinters with a daring attack.
October 18: Giro di Lombardia
Damiano Cunego wins another Race of the Falling Leaves as the peloton begins to show signs of fatigue after a busy year.
October 21: The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is officially inaugurated. It is a collaboration of over 10,000 scientists and engineers from over 100 countries as well as hundreds of universities and laboratories.
November 1-2: Boulder Cup
Todd Wells and Tim Johnson take the Saturday and Sunday events respectively, while Georgia Gould dominates both women’s races.
November 4: In the United States presidential election, Barack Obama is elected the 44th President of the United States and Joe Biden is elected the 47th Vice President. Obama becomes the first African-American President-elect.
December 14: Cyclocross Nationals
Ryan Trebon gets his second Stars and Stripes jersey and Katie Compton makes it five of the last five National titles.
December 27: Israel initiates a series of airstrikes against the Gaza Strip, killing at least 312 (including 56 civilians) and wounding over 1,500.
Well, so there you have 2008. Ugh. I hate to end things on a bad note but hey, this is the world we live in and hopefully this type of reflection helps confirm just how good most of us who follow the sport of cycling have it. We are certainly fortunate and let’s all hope for the best in 2009. The world can use all the help it can get.
Happy New Year Everyone.