Cycling Weekly is counting down the top 30 British Riders of the Year thoughout December. The top 10 will be revealed in the December 19 issue of Cycling Weekly magazine.
NUMBER 12: PETER KENNAUGH
A future Tour star?
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Take a look at Pete Kennaugh’s results this season and they do not look particularly outstanding. A team time trial victory at the Giro del Trentino in April and fourth place in a National Championship road race that Sky messed up are about the only results that catch the eye. Even his solid 23rd place overall at the Critérium du Dauphiné has to be tempered by the fact that he was only Sky’s fourth best-placed rider.
And yet the 24-year-old from the Isle of Man turned out to be one of Sky’s most valuable performers at the Tour de France, where it really mattered.
It’s worth considering he almost didn’t ride the race at all. Like Geraint Thomas, Olympic year and his focus on the track stalled Kennaugh’s progress on the road. Unlike Thomas, the transition back was not immediate.
Initially he was slated to ride the Giro d’Italia in support of Bradley Wiggins but as May approached, he realised he was not in good enough shape to play the role that would be expected of him. Rather than soldier on and risk letting down his team, Kennaugh called Rod Ellingworth and asked to be taken out of the Giro team – itself quite an unusual step for a rider to take. After all, who wants to voluntarily de-select themselves from a major race?
After a solid block of training and improving performances at the Bayern Rundfahrt and Dauphiné, Kennaugh suddenly found himself in contention for a Tour place.
He was supposed to be one of the workers who would do the largely hidden work, taking care of Chris Froome and Richie Porte and riding on the front early in the stages and on the early climbs in the mountains.
But after looking in control early on, it became clear that Vasil Kiriyenka, Kanstantsin Siutsou and David Lopez were not firing on all cylinders in the mountains. Sky needed someone to step up, and that someone was Pete Kennaugh.
Everyone remembers his fall on stage nine to Bagnères-de-Bigorre, when Sky’s team imploded and Kennaugh was sent tumbling off the edge of the road after an accidental nudge from Ryder Hesjedal.
But the way Kennaugh rode in the Pyrenees and Alps – first to try to drag Richie Porte back to the front after he’d been dropped, and then deep into the mountain stages to help Froome – was very impressive. He was, undoubtedly, Sky’s unsung hero of the Tour.
Kennaugh also won the Lincoln Grand Prix in the colours of the Isle of Man.
British Riders of the Year 2013: Related links