Cycling Weekly is revealing the top 50 2012 British Riders of the Year, counting down every day until December 19.
The top 10 will be revealed in Cycling Weekly’s Christmas issue, on sale from Thursday December 20.
16th PHILIP HINDES
Olympic team sprint champion
It seems that Great Britain are establishing a tradition. Each Olympic year someone emerges from nowhere and ends the summer as a gold medallist. Four years ago it was Jason Kenny, this time it was Philip Hindes.
Hindes was born in Germany – he still gets a bit of gentle ribbing for his accent from his team-mates – with a British father. He raced as a junior for Germany but moved to Britain in 2010 and by the following year was racing with Dave Daniell and Peter Mitchell in a team sprint line-up at a round of the World Cup.
The British sprint squad’s search for someone to fill the formidable shoes of Jamie Staff at ‘man one’ had been problematic. Staff had made the position so totally his own that it was starting to look like an impossible job.
Iain Dyer, Jan van Eijden and co seemingly tried every rider and combination, seeking the magic that would help Great Britain retain their Olympic team sprint crown.
At the World Championships in Melbourne in the spring, Hindes was picked to lead off with Jason Kenny and Sir Chris Hoy behind him.
The Worlds were a disaster. Great Britain qualified for a bronze medal ride-off against Australia but were relegated for failing to change over in the designated zone.
The Olympic dream looked further away than ever.
At the Games, everything slotted into place, although the campaign was not without controversy. In qualifying, Hindes wobbled after leaving the start gate, wobbled all the way into turn one and went down, earning a re-start.
In the first round, the trio set a new world record and in the final against France, they went even faster, lowering the record to 42.6 seconds.
It was in the post-race interviews that Hindes appeared to confirm suspicions that he had fallen deliberately in qualifying to get a re-start because he was not totally happy with how he got out of the gate.
That was quickly dismissed as a comment that was ‘lost in translation’, although the US magazine Sports Illustrated didn’t buy it, naming Hindes fifth in its Anti-Sportsman of the Year award.
It’s a shame because if only the racing were to be taken into account, the way Hindes reached world record-breaking level in such a short space of time was an achievement worthy of many plaudits.
15th ELINOR BARKER
Junior world time trial champion
Last year, Elinor Barker clinched the silver medal in the junior women’s time trial at the World Championships in Copenhagen. This time, in the Netherlands, she went one better, winning gold in decisive fashion.
The 18-year-old Welsh rider followed in Nicole Cooke’s footsteps by winning the rainbow jersey, but the manner in which she did it that impressed so much. Barker beat Cecille Ludbvig of Denmark into second place by 35 seconds, with third-placed Demi de Jong more than a minute back. Over 16 kilometres, that is a big margin.
Barker, who started cycling at the age of eight as a way to get to swimming lessons, also won two gold medals at the European Junior Track Championships in Portugal. She took the individual pursuit and then teamed up with Lucy Garner and Amy Roberts to win the team pursuit.
And as Great Britain basked in the post-Olympic glow, Barker was one of the riders who showed that the future is in promising hands at the Glasgow World Cup.
When Joanna Rowsell was ruled out by a virus, Barker was called up to make her senior Great Britain debut, riding alongside Olympic champions Laura Trott and Dani King without looking out of place. The trio struggled in the qualifying round but still made the gold medal final, where Trott and Barker stepped on the gas to edge out the Australians.
Dave Brailsford described Barker’s ride in the World Cup as one of the most impressive senior debuts he’d ever seen.
Don’t agree with our choice of riders? You can vote for your top 10 British Riders of 2012 on the CW website. When Tweeting about our countdown or your nominees, use the #ridersoftheyear hashtag. We’ll be running your choice in a future issue.
Riders revealed so far…
December 15: Numbers 20-19 – David Millar and Lucy Garner
December 14: Numbers 22-12 – Steve Cummings and Ben Swift
December 13: Numbers 24-23 – Ian Stannard and Helen Wyman
December 12: Numbers 26-25 – Annie Last and Scott Thwaites
December 11: Numbers 28-27 – Mark Colbourne and Alex Dowsett
December 10: Numbers 32-29 – Sharon Laws, Liam Killeen, Neil Fachie, Rachel Atherton
December 9: Number 33 – David Stone
December 8: Number 34 – Emma Pooley
December 7: Numbers 36-35 – Nikki Harris and Russell Downing
December 6: Numbers 38-37 – Anthony Kappes and Andy Fenn
December 5: Numbers 40-39 – Josh Edmondson and Matt Bottrill
December 4: Numbers 42-41 – Luke Rowe and Michael Hutchinson
December 3: Numbers 44-43 – Sam Lowe and Jon Dibben
December 2: Numbers 46-45 – Rebecca James and Jessica Varnish
December 1: Numbers 50-47 – Alex Peters, Kristian House, Richard Handley and Wendy Houvenaghel