Cycling Weekly is revealing the top 50 2012 British Riders of the Year, counting down every day until December 19.
The top 10 will be revealed in Cycling Weekly’s Christmas issue, on sale from Thursday December 20.
20th DAVID MILLAR
Tour de France stage winner
The middle stretch of any Tour de France offers a few tantalising opportunities and it takes a particularly cool head to take advantage. For the 150-plus riders who are not contesting the yellow jersey and are not specialist sprinters, these so-called transitional stages are a rare shot at glory for anyone who have not been ground down by the rigours of the Tour.
Garmin’s Tour had unravelled on the road to Metz, with several of their riders, including leader Ryder Hesjedal, crashing heavily and the pressure was ratcheting up on their remaining men.
In order to win stage 12 of the Tour from St Jean de Maurienne to Annonay Davézieux, David Millar first had to get into the break – something which sounds a lot easier than it is in practice. The attacking was incessant and it took 20 kilometres of all-out aggression before a group solidified at the front.
Millar found himself in that big group with plenty of riders committed to spending a day out in front. With the Sky-controlled peloton likely to let the escapees fight it out, the odds were reasonably good as soon as the lead went over five minutes.
Then Millar had to make the cut each time the group split – surviving like a contestant on a rolling reality show until he was in the final five.
At that point he was the hot favourite, because he was a far superior sprinter to the other four. And that is when the pulse starts to race and years of experience become invaluable.
Jean-Christophe Peraud, the French climber, made the decisive move on the final climb. Millar knew it was the moment to react and he wasted no time, riding clear of Egoi Martinez, Cyril Gautier and Robert Kiserlovski. That Millar would win was not in doubt because Peraud was no match in the sprint.
On television and in the press room afterwards, Millar used his triumph to remind people of his past. “We must never forget that I am an ex-doper,” he said. How many others would choose to mention their darkest moments during one of joy?
19th LUCY GARNER
World junior road race champion. Again
Nicole Cooke won the World Junior Road Race Championships in Plouay in 2000 and Lisbon in 2001.
Lucy Garner won the World Junior Road Race Championships in Copenhagen in 2011 and in Valkenburg this year.
They are the only two women to win back-to-back junior world road titles.
Everything we’ve seen so far suggests that Garner could have every bit as successful a career as Cooke has had.
As in Copenhagen, Garner’s victory owed much to a sense of timing and a racer’s instinct, but also to the incredible, selfless work by her team-mates, particularly Elinor Barker.
The lead-out Barker gave her worked to perfection but Garner still had to finish it off, and she did so, without the result ever looking in doubt.
Garner had also won the European junior road race title, two gold medals at the European junior track championships and a couple of senior national track titles.
So, was it any surprise that the Argos-Shimano team snapped Garner up to race alongside Charlotte Becker and Kirsten Wild next season?
The step up to senior level will stretch her, of course, but with the sprint finish she has, she can surely hope to be competitive very soon.
Don’t agree with our choice of riders? You can vote for your top 10 British Riders of 2012 on the CW website. When Tweeting about our countdown or your nominees, use the #ridersoftheyear hashtag. We’ll be running your choice in a future issue.
Cycling Weekly’s 2012 British riders of the year index
Riders revealed so far…
December 14: Numbers 22-12 – Steve Cummings and Ben Swift
December 13: Numbers 24-23 – Ian Stannard and Helen Wyman
December 12: Numbers 26-25 – Annie Last and Scott Thwaites
December 11: Numbers 28-27 – Mark Colbourne and Alex Dowsett
December 10: Numbers 32-29 – Sharon Laws, Liam Killeen, Neil Fachie, Rachel Atherton
December 9: Number 33 – David Stone
December 8: Number 34 – Emma Pooley
December 7: Numbers 36-35 – Nikki Harris and Russell Downing
December 6: Numbers 38-37 – Anthony Kappes and Andy Fenn
December 5: Numbers 40-39 – Josh Edmondson and Matt Bottrill
December 4: Numbers 42-41 – Luke Rowe and Michael Hutchinson
December 3: Numbers 44-43 – Sam Lowe and Jon Dibben
December 2: Numbers 46-45 – Rebecca James and Jessica Varnish
December 1: Numbers 50-47 – Alex Peters, Kristian House, Richard Handley and Wendy Houvenaghel