Mark Cavendish has been named Sports Personality of the Year after beating golfer Darren Clarke and track-and-field athlete Mo Farah to the top prize in the BBC’s public vote.
Cavendish went into the show as bookies favourite but few would have predicted his dominance, with the soon-to-be Team Sky rider polling 49% of the votes, with second-place Clarke, who won the British Open, receiving 12% and 5,000 world champion Farah 5%.
“This award is a landmark for cycling,” said Cavendish. “For cycling to be recognised in a non-Olympic year is unheard of.”
“Now I see so many people out riding bikes, commuting to work or doing it as a hobby, they can see what it’s like to ride. We’re so great as a country in sport because we put so much in and you see the returns. Thank you everyone, thank you. It’s an honour.”
The award caps a dream year for Cavendish, who became the first Briton to win the Tour de France green jersey in July, claiming five stages to take his overall tally to 20.
The Manx Missile then stole the show in the London 2012 test event in August before his crowning glory in September, winning the World Road Race Championships with an inch-perfect sprint in Copenhagen.
Cavendish, awarded an MBE by the Queen early this month, has since dominated the end-of-year awards season, being named Sportsman of the Year by the Sports Journalists Association and winning the F T Bidlake Memorial Trophy.
But the BBC gong confirm Cavendish’s – and cycling’s – standing in the public consciousness ahead of London 2012, when the 26-year-old will bid to become Great Britain’s first gold medallist of the Games.
Meanwhile, junior women’s world champion Lucy Garner missed out on the Young Sports Personality of the Year award, with teenage golfer Lauren Taylor scooping the prize.
Dave Brailsford added: “This has been a fantastic evening for the sport of cycling and it’s great that Mark’s success has been recognised by the British public and the national media.
“The BBC SPOTY award rounds off the perfect year for Mark, who’s cycling achievements have made history. He became the first ever Briton to win the Green Jersey at the Tour de France, and the first British male to win the Rainbow jersey since 1965.
“On top of that, he brought his Tour de France stage win tally up to 20 and won the Olympic test event in Surrey. Mark’s victory at both the worlds and the test event are testament to the GB lads who rode for him and the team behind the scenes who have supported him over the years.
“I’m really proud of Mark and he thoroughly deserves this award. Congratulations also to Lucy, who made it onto the top three of the Young SPOTY following her cycling success this year.”