CW's top 30 British riders of 2009: No. 12
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No. 12 Peter Kennaugh
Last year's position: 32nd
There are already great expectations surrounding Peter Kennaugh. Already he's being cited as a future superstar of the sport, so it is important not to get carried away.
But like Ben Swift, the talent for bike racing is obvious. There's an innate instinct for racing in the 20-year-old from the Isle of Man.
It is no surprise that Kennaugh has turned professional with Team Sky. Another year in the under-23 ranks would be unlikely to add much. Like Swift, who joined Katusha this year, it's time for Kennaugh to step up. And he'll have the added advantage of being in a team that will tailor his programme specifically for his long-term development. In many ways, Kennaugh will be the first British rider to benefit fully from the infrastructure British Cycling has built.
The outstanding performance of Kennaugh's season was his third place in the Baby Giro d'Italia, a 10-day race open to amateurs under the age of 27.
The support he enjoyed from his Great Britain team-mates in the race should not be under-estimated. It was immense, but Kennaugh rode strongly, winning the hilly stage three.
Third place overall behind a Colombian rider, Jose Sarmiento Tunarrosa, by just 14 seconds was an excellent result, and a best ever by a British rider in a highly-respected race. Kennaugh could have won it, and he would have done if he'd managed a top 10 position in the time trial. That is an area of his riding that is sure to improve as he makes his first steps in the professional arena.
At the National Championship road race, Kennaugh more than held his own against the best ever field to assemble for the event. He didn't look out of place among Wiggins, Cavendish and the other more experienced riders. In fact, he perhaps did too much work on his own to chase down attacks, otherwise he might have won that too. A bronze medal added to the silver he won in 2008.
The other big stage race of his season, the Tour de l'Avenir was his preparation race for the World Championships, but by the final couple of stages he was riding very strongly.
In Mendrisio, Kennaugh kept up Great Britain's brilliant recent record. Jonny Bellis was third in 2007, Swift was fourth last year, and Kennaugh was fourth.
After the race-winning break went, Kennaugh could have been forgiven for sitting back, knowing the medals had already been accounted for. But he did not. Instead, he counter-attacked to take a very creditable fourth place and end his amateur career on a high.
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