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

As the countdown nears the half-way mark, here are the latest two riders to join the list…


NO. 28: LIZZIE ARMITSTEAD

Lizzie Armitstead?s progress this year has been remarkable, particularly when you consider she was out of action for three months after an operation on her lower back early in the season.

The 19-year-old (she turns 20 on December 18) from Otley in Yorkshire was the revelation of the World Cup in Manchester at the start of November, winning three gold medals.

Already she looks like the solution to Britain?s problem of how to be competitive in bunch racing on the track. Her victories in the points race and the scratch race at the Manchester World Cup were highly accomplished. She kept out of trouble well and made her moves at just the right moments. It is going to be very interesting to see how she does against stronger opposition if, as looks likely, she can qualify a place in the World Championships in the spring.

She won the scratch race at the Melbourne World Cup to virtually secure a World Championship place, although she crashed in the points race so still has work to do there.

And she?s become a key part of the team pursuit picture. With question marks over Rebecca Romero?s future in cycling, and hints she may even switch sports again, there could be a vacancy. Together with Jo Rowsell and Katie Colclough, the young Great Britain trio were unbeatable at the end of the year.

On the road she has made great strides too. She won three criteriums in Europe during the summer, including one at Waarmunster in France when she beat Sweden?s Emma Johansson into second place.

But it was in Varese, at the World Championships, that she impressed most, playing the role of team-mate to Nicole Cooke to perfection. Her job was to get in the early break and take the pressure off the rest of the GB team, which she did, spending much of the race at the front until they were finally caught. While there, among some very handy riders, she did not look at all out of place.


NO. 27: STEVEN BURKE

The 20-year-old from Burnley was one of the surprise inclusions in the Great Britain Olympic team, one of the young riders who, like Jason Kenny, forced his way into the team with some world-class performances.

At the start of the year Burke was on the long list for the team pursuit having been part of some superb times in training. He was selected for the Copenhagen World Cup in February and was in the team that rode 4-00.9 to win gold.

In the World Championships he rode the Omnium and was a solid sixth, winning the kilometre event in the process with a superb time of 1-03.

And then came Beijing, where he was expected to ride in the qualification round of the team pursuit in order to give Bradley Wiggins a session off in order to save himself for the Madison.

But if British Cycling made a mistake in Beijing, the dithering over who to select in the second individual pursuit place was it. They didn?t want to risk Geraint Thomas, because he had three hugely important rides in the team pursuit ahead of him. Mark Cavendish?s times in training were good, but there were concerns about putting him into an event where he would perhaps finish out of the medals and then have to explain why the winner of four Tour de France stages had not done so well.

In the end, they pitched Burke in, not really expecting him to make the second round.

But Burke smashed his personal best over four kilometres by nine seconds to qualify in fifth place. He then broke his PB again to beat Volodymyr Dyudya to reach the bronze medal race. Another two seconds were shaved off his best time as he rode a 4-20 to beat Alexei Markov to the medal, the first truly stunning result of the Beijing Games for Britain.

Since Beijing, Burke looks a different man. Bigger, stronger and more powerful, he won gold in the European Championships under-23 team pursuit and then broke the four-minute barrier at the Manchester World Cup.

He?s a remarkable rider in that he can turn in superb times over one and four kilometres. He also has a very rapid sprint and was regularly able to beat Mark Cavendish in training in 2007.

If British Cycling has a dilemma now, it?s how best to harness Burke?s ability and which disciplines he should concentrate on.


RIDERS REVEALED SO FAR

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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