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Throughout December we will be revealing Cycling Weekly‘s top 50 British riders of the year.

Today we reach the half-way point of our festive 50 with these two riders…


NO. 26: RACHEL ATHERTON

The downhill races were a happy hunting ground for the British at the World MTB Championships in Vale di Sole, Italy. And they were particularly memorable for the Atherton family.

Rachel, the 21-year-old sister of Gee, became the first British woman to win the Downhill World Championships, beating Sabrina Jonnier by 11.99 seconds in the final.

She had already won a World Cup round at Andorra, which made her one of the favourites for the world title.

Atherton was recently named the BBC Midlands? sportsperson of the year.

A Minute With: The Athertons


NO. 25: BEN SWIFT

It has been a superb year for the 21-year-old from Rotherham. He became one of the most feared under-23 riders in Europe and secured his first professional contract with the Russian Katusha team.

Swift is the latest rider to graduate from the British Cycling academy with flying colours. He secured results all season, despite breaking his collarbone in a crash in February when he fell off riding from the track to his hotel during the World Cup.

But he did hours on the turbo in a bid to get fit and was back in action in April, securing the first of eight second-places in a stage of the Giro delle Regioni.

The first win came at the Coppe della Pace in June. Then he narrowly missed out on a medal when he was fourth in the European Under-23 Road Race Championships.

In July he and Jonny Bellis were the surprise names in the road race team of the Olympic Games and, although Swift didn?t finish, he was the last British rider to climb off.

There was another win, a stage of the tough Giro Valle d?Aosta-Mont Blanc in August, then a solid Tour of Britain, where he was pipped to a second king of the mountains title by Danilo Di Luca.

His finest ride of the year was at the World Championships in Varese. One of the pre-race favourites he reacted quickly when a dangerous-looking break went early on, then watched every move in the final stages. He looked good for a medal when it came down to the sprint, but finished fourth again. Still, it was a fine, aggressive end to his amateur career.

Ben Swift: The Big Interview>>


RIDERS REVEALED SO FAR

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

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