Throughout December we will be revealing Cycling Weekly‘s top 50 British riders of the year.
We’ve now reached the top 20 riders of the year – we’ll be unveiling the top 10 in Cycling Weekly December 25 magazine.
NO. 20: CHRIS NEWTON
Chris Newton worked extremely hard to ensure qualification for the Olympic Games. He knew that the points race was his most realistic chance of making it to Beijing and so he went to Los Angeles at the start of the year knowing he needed to win.
That was the first of a number of clinical exhibitions of points race riding during the year by Newton. He won in LA, and then took third at the final World Cup in Copenhagen to clinch the overall series.
Disaster struck when he crashed in training in early March and broke his collarbone, ruling him out of the World Championships in Manchester. It was a huge blow, and it could even have jeopardised his Olympic hopes.
Back on the bike within six weeks, and back to winning ways with a classy stage win at the FBD Insurance Ras in Ireland, Newton was back in the picture.
With places in the endurance squad at a premium, his place was by no means guaranteed, particularly as he was no longer a feature in the team pursuit squad.
But the decision to take him to Beijing paid off with a superb bronze medal in a tactically enthralling points race. Newton almost did enough to take silver but in forcing the race time and again to guarantee himself a medal, he had nothing left when Roger Kluge of Germany nipped away to pinch silver.
Two national titles, in the scratch and points race, were no surprise, but the manner of his win in the points race at the Manchester World Cup was extremely impressive. It was as if he?d save up all the frustration at missing the World Championships for that ride, which concluded a dominant weekend for the British.
NO. 19: WENDY HOUVENAGHEL
The all-British individual pursuit final at the Olympic Games was one of the great highlights, for Great Britain fans, at least. Wendy Houvenaghel had caused a bit of a stir by qualifying faster than Romero, and she pushed her very close in the final.
Having missed out on the bronze medal at the World Championships in Manchester by just two seconds to Katie Mactier, part of the battle was ensuring she made it through to the gold-silver final.
However, she was part of the world record-breaking team pursuit squad, with Romero and Rowsell, which gave her a first World Championship medal.
At the World Championships, Houvenaghel actually broke the British record and her own personal best with a 3-31.75 in qualifying, only to see Romero go more than two seconds faster.
In Beijing, Houvenaghel lowered her PB to 3-28.443 to top qualifying, and she went even faster, with a 3-27.829 in the first round when she beat Lada Kozlikova. Romero went fractionally faster and carried that form into the final.
Her times continued to be good at the Manchester World Cup. A 3-28 saw her top qualifying and she needed only a 3-30 (which is still a lot better than the times she was doing at the start of the year) to demolish Tara Whitten in the final to win gold.
RIDERS REVEALED SO FAR
December 15: No. 22 Gee Atherton and 21 Rob Hayles
December 14: No. 24 Joanna Rowsell and 23 Simon Richardson
December 13: No. 26 Rachel Atherton and 25 Ben Swift
December 12: No. 28 Lizzie Armitstead and 27 Steven Burke
December 11: No. 30 Andrew Fenn and 29 Sharon Laws
December 10: No. 32 Peter Kennaugh and 31 Josh Bryceland
December 9: No. 34 Jody Cundy and 33 Liam Killeen
December 8: No. 36 David Millar and 35 Ian Stannard
December 7: No. 38 Daniel Fleeman and 37 Matt Crampton
December 6: No. 40 Jessica Allen and 39 Daniel Lloyd
December 5: No. 42 David Daniell and 41 Dean Downing
December 4: No. 44 Steve Peat and 43 Anna Blyth
December 3: No. 46 Jonny Bellis and 45 Jess Varnish
December 2: No. 48 Luke Rowe and 47 Michael Hutchinson
December 1: No. 50 Katie Colclough and 49 Chris Froome