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Throughout December we will be revealing Cycling Weekly‘s top 50 British riders of the year.

As it’s December 3, here are the third pair riders on our list.


NO. 46: JONNY BELLIS

Jonny Bellis has been Mr Consistency at the British Cycling Academy this year. The 20-year-old from the Isle of Man had already attracted the interest of CSC after his bronze medal in the 2007 under-23 World Road Race Championship.

Although he didn?t win a road race, he had ten top ten finishes. The first was at the Tour of Flanders for espoirs in April which kicked off a very strong spring.

A string of fine results followed, including fourth place in one of the big Italian amateur races, the Coppa Caivano. Bellis was the only non-Italian in the top ten that day, proof that the Academy set-up is enabling the best British youngsters to compete as equals in that dog-eat-dog world.

That superb run of form earned a somewhat surprising call-up for the Olympic Games road race. On closer inspection, though, the decision to take Bellis and his young Academy team-mate Ben Swift, is part of the building process for the future.

Some criticised the decision but Bellis more than justified his place. He got in the day?s first and most important big break, along with the likes of Carlos Sastre and Jens Voigt before climbing off with five laps to go.

On the back of Beijing, Bellis was second in a stage of the tough Giro Valle d?Aosta, and then made his CSC debut as a stagiaire at the Tour of Britain. He was 12th overall.


NO. 45: JESS VARNISH

One of the most thrilling races of the Manchester World Cup at the start of November was the final of the women?s team sprint.

Perhaps it was because it was one of the unexpected gold medals of the weekend that the roar was so loud. Or maybe it was because the British pair of Jessica Varnish and Anna Blyth overturned an early deficit to defeat the Germans.

Whatever, the fact that Great Britain could field a gold medal-winning team sprint duo without using the world champions Victoria Pendleton and Shanaze Reade shows the strength in depth there is. It?s testimony to the quiet development of young women riders too that so many are coming to the fore now.

Varnish was still only 17 when she rode at the World Championships in March. At the European Track Championships in Poland she doubled up and rode junior and stepped up to the under-23 Keirin too for the experience.

The girl from Worcestershire won the junior Keirin and 500 metres and took bronze in the sprint. Those results suggest that she could be the successor to Victoria Pendleton.

The Manchester World Cup represented a big step up in competition but in a familiar environment. She showed she was not daunted with a superb victory in her heat of the Keirin first round.

But it was the team sprint with Blyth that impressed. The Brits were slightly slower than the Germans in the first round but although Miriam Welte was again faster than Varnish over the first lap of the final, the crucial thing was that the British girl had narrowed the deficit to allow Blyth to bring home gold on the second lap.

Varnish showed in 2008 that she is a sprint star of the future.


PREVIOUS RIDERS
December 2: No. 48 Luke Rowe; No. 47 Michael Hutchinson
December 1: No. 50 Katie Colclough; No. 49 Chris Froome

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