No. 16 Wendy Houvenaghel
Last year’s position: 19th
If there was a surprise result of the year, it was Wendy Houvenaghel’s defeat in the final of the individual pursuit at the World Championships in Poland. Houvenaghel qualified with an excellent 3-29, which was faster than her silver medal-winning ride in the final of the Olympic Games pursuit last year.
Come the final, though, Alison Shanks of New Zealand upped her game and Houvenaghel faded to a 3-32, despite a fast start.
However, the Cornish-based Northern Irish rider bounced back to lead the team pursuit trio to a second consecutive world title.
Later in the season, she was in the world record-breaking team pursuit squad as the GB trio lowered the 3,000-metre time to 3-21.875 at the Manchester World Cup. That same weekend, Houvenaghel won the individual pursuit too, and won again in Melbourne the following month.
Add to that a time trial win on the road at the Chrono Champenois in France and a silver medal in the British national time trial championship behind Emma Pooley and it’s been a very consistent season.
Now the addition of the women’s team pursuit to the Olympic Games programme gives Houvenaghel even more incentive to remain at the top until 2012, when she will be 37 years old.
Wendy Houvenaghel (right) with record-breaking team pursuiters Joanna Rowsell (left) and Lizzie Armitstead (centre)
CW’s top 30 British riders of 2009 advent calendar