Cavendish wins Sports Personality of the Year
Thu, 22 Dec 22:05:00 2011
Mark Cavendish won the 2011 Sports Personality of the Year award following his brilliant performance in the Tour de France, on which he won five stages.
Cavendish, 26, was crowned best sprinter in the Tour with HTC-Highroad then became the first cyclist in 30 years to claim the green jersey-world championship double after winning the road race in Copenhagen.
The Manxman has won 20 Tour de France stages in four years and his victory in Denmark ended a period of 46 years without a British winner of the worlds road race.
"This award is a landmark for cycling," he said at the annual BBC awards ceremony, now held in Salford. "For cycling to be recognised in a non-Olympic year is unheard of.
"I am absolutely speechless - some of my team-mates here will say that is a rare thing.
"I had a group of guys who rode in Copenhagen who brought the rainbow jersey back to Britain after nearly half a century and that is a massive thing. Even to be nominated in the top 10 [of the SPOTY] is an incredible thing.
"That we can produce champions from such a small place is superb."
Cavendish claimed almost half of the 342,147 votes cast, with Northern Irish golfer Darren Clarke a distant second with less than a quarter of the winner's total. Cavendish is only the second road cyclist to claim the award. Tommy Simpson was the other, in 1965.
Cavendish, who was made an MBE earlier this year, is favourite to win the Olympic road race in London next year as well as defend the green jersey with his new Sky team.
Mo Farah, who won the world 5,000m title, was third behind Open champion Clarke.
The BBC came under fire after the 10-person shortlist was announced, as there were no women contained within in. The list is voted for by 27 independent sports editors. The Corporation has said it will review the nomination process for next year's award.
The other seven nominees were cricketers Alastair Cook and Andrew Strauss, golfers Luke Donald and Rory McIlroy, athlete Dai Greene, boxer Amir Khan and tennis player Andy Murray.
Cavendish's Tour 1/3
The team award was won by the England Test cricket side after their first Ashes series triumph Down Under since 1987 helped them on the way to becoming the number one-ranked Test side in the world.
Captain Strauss oversaw that comprehensive 3-1 victory in Australia and also series wins over Sri Lanka and India - the latter a 4-0 home whitewash.
Premier League champions Manchester United and the Wales team that so impressed at the Rugby World Cup were second and third.
England's Zimbabwean cricket coach Andy Flower won the coaching award ahead of Warren Gatland and Sir Alex Ferguson, of the Wales and United teams respectively.
Serb Novak Djokovic won the overseas award after an incredible year in which he took over the number one spot in the tennis rankings - winning his first 41 matches in 2011.
Barcelona and Argentina star Lionel Messi and German Formula One world champion Sebastian Vettel were second and third.
Golfer Lauren Taylor won the Young Sports Personality of the Year award after becoming the youngest winner of the Ladies' British Open Amateur Championship in June, aged 16.
Cyclist Lucy Garner and Paralympic swimmer Eleanor Simmonds were behind her.
Sir Steve Redgrave, who won five gold medals at successive Olympics from 1984 to 2000, was given the lifetime achievement award.
Last 10 winners of the award:
2010: AP McCoy
2009: Ryan Giggs
2008 Sir Chris Hoy
2007: Joe Calzaghe
2006: Zara Phillips
2005: Andrew Flintoff
2004: Dame Kelly Holmes
2003: Jonny Wilkinson
2002: Paula Radcliffe
2001: David BeckhamJonathan Symcox (Twitter: @jonathansymcox) / Eurosport