Cavendish wins the big prize

Cyclist Mark Cavendish won the BBC Sports Personality of the Year top prize, ahead of golfer Darren Clarke and runner Mo Farah. It was recognition of a breakthrough 2011 for the Isle of Man rider.

Cavendish was visibly stunned by the victory, but when he regained his composure, his first thought was to pay tribute to the support riders who helped him win the world title in Copenhagen in September.

"I'm absolutely speechless,” he said. "A few of my teammates here will say that's a rare thing. Without those guys this wouldn't even be close to possible. I had a group of guys in Copenhagen who rode incredibly and that brought a rainbow jersey back to Britain after almost half a decade, and that's a massive thing."

For a cyclist there is really no such thing as an individual achievement. Cavendish’s moment of glory was made possible by the selfless support of seven friends and dedicated colleagues: Bradley Wiggins, David Millar, Geraint Thomas, Chris Froome, Steve Cummings, Ian Stannard and Jeremy Hunt.

Cavendish’s character and popularity were demonstrated by the exultation shown by his team after he had claimed the victory in Denmark. He recently announced that he will join Team Sky next season, alongside Wiggins and Thomas, but the obvious focus of 2012 will be the Olympic road race. The SPOTY award comes shortly after Cavendish’s MBE awarded by the Queen.

At the ceremony the England cricket side won the Team of the Year award, and rower Sir Steve Redgrave was recognised for Lifetime Achievement.

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