Cyclist Cavendish deserves to win sports personality 2011

Nov 29, 2011
Seth Jacobson

Pugnacious Mark Cavendish is a true sporting great – will he get the award he deserves?

THE NOMINATIONS for the BBC's sports personality of the year award throws up fresh controversy every year - "too unsuccessful", "too mainstream", "too male" (this year there are no women on the list). If this year’s prize doesn't go to the pugnacious Manx cyclist Mark Cavendish, then the award's greatest failing will be that it is "too nice".

The 26-year-old Cavendish has enjoyed an annus mirabilis in 2011. After a slow start, he picked up a couple of stage wins in the Giro D'Italia before being awarded an MBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours in June. The following month he became the first Briton to ever win the maillot vert for highest points scorer in the Tour de France, securing five stages along the way.

In September he joined the legendary cyclist Tommy Simpson as the country's second only winner of the Road World Championships, leading home an immaculate performance by Team GB with a trademark sprint that burned up the finest cyclists on the planet in the final straight.

As Ian Chadband wrote in The Daily Telegraph at the time, "British sport possesses a once-in-a-lifetime national treasure, a supreme athlete who may not just be the finest road race sprinter cycling has witnessed, but also Britain’s greatest current sportsman."

In The Guardian, Richard Williams said Cavendish had "pulled off something so exceptional that it must finally cement his position in the British sporting pantheon" and noted how "the rainbow jersey of the road‑race champion is properly venerated in the old cycling nations of Italy, France, Belgium Germany, Spain and the Netherlands."

That Cavendish is not revered and feted by our sporting establishment is down to the fact that he just isn't very British in his dedication to victory and drive. He famously was ejected from the Tour de Romandie in 2010 after crossing the line first and delivering an emphatic two-fingered salute to his perceived detractors in the cycling press and he has faced accusations of cheating in cycling events.

If the public wants a nice guy to win the BBC’s annual prize, they can vote for Rory McIlroy. If they want to reward a genuine sporting hero, they should vote for Cavendish.

Spiky, single-minded and successful - in any other country he'd be a shoo-in.


Mark Cavendish (cycling)
Darren Clarke (golf)
Alastair Cook (cricket)
Luke Donald (golf)
Mo Farah (athletics)
Dai Greene (athletics)
Amir Khan (boxing)
Rory McIlroy (golf)
Andy Murray (tennis)
Andrew Strauss (cricket)

Public votes will be counted and the award presented on 22 December.

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