Cycling Weekly is counting down the top 30 British Riders of the Year thoughout December.

NUMBER 2: MARK CAVENDISH

Giro d’Italia points jersey winner

By his usual standards, Mark Cavendish was not at his unbeatable best at the Tour de France. Marcel Kittel, with four stage wins including a final triumph on the Champs-Elysées, took the limelight. Cavendish ended up with two victories, at Marseille and again at Saint Amand Montrond, on one of the most extraordinary days in the Tour’s recent history.

In sprinting, the scores are binary. Success is measured in wins and losses and so, against previous tallies of four, five and six Tour stage wins, two looked a little on the skinny side.

But that fact, important though it is, masks one of Cavendish’s most successful and consistent seasons.

He joined a very small group of riders to have won the points competition at all three Grand Tours when he clinched the red jersey at the Giro d’Italia in May. He won five stages there too, a much more Cavendish-esque tally. Then he won the National Championship road race in Glasgow in June, to add the British champion’s red, white and blue to the world champion’s rainbow bands he won two years ago.

And his brace of Tour de France stage wins took his overall total to 25, just three short of Bernard Hinault in the all-time list, and nine adrift of leader Eddy Merckx. 

More to the point, Cavendish raced more often than almost every other WorldTour rider, racking up 96 days of competition, winning 19 races.

He started with a victory in Argentina in January and won a race in every month until September, bar April, when he took his pre-Giro break. By any measure, it was an outlandish season of success.

If one victory stands out, it must be that Tour de France stage in the crosswinds to Saint Amand Montrond, when Cavendish relied on his racer’s instincts rather than his pure speed to set up an opportunity to win.

As Saxo Bank sought to put distance between Alberto Contador and Chris Froome, Cavendish and his Omega Pharma Quick-Step team were playing a different game. They capitalised on the chance, contributed to the effort and then completed the job in emphatic style at the finish.

Cavendish’s performances often have the capacity to take the breath away, but that was a day that will live long in the memory.

British Riders of the Year 2013: Related links



Number 3: Becky James



Number 4: Simon Yates



Number 5: Rachel Atherton



Number 6: Laura Trott



Number 7: Alex Dowsett



Number 8: Hannah Barnes



Number 9: Helen Wyman



Number 10: Bradley Wiggins



Number 11: Nikki Harris



Number 12: Peter Kennaugh



Number 13: Liam Phillips



Number 14: Elinor Barker



Number 15: Dani King



Number 16: Dannielle Khan



Number 17: Katie Archibald



Number 18: Mike Cuming



Number 19: Tao Geoghegan Hart



Number 20: Joanna Rowsell



Number 21: Adam Yates



Number 22: Geraint Thomas



Number 23: Lizzie Armitstead



Number 24: Jason Kenny



Number 25: Evan Oliphant



Number 26: Ian Stannard



Number 27: Kenta Gallagher



Number 28: Emily Kay



Number 29: Owain Doull



Number 30: Katie Colclough



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