CW’s British Riders of 2012: No. 32-29

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.

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National road race champion

Just days after learning that she had not been selected for Great Britain’s Olympic road race team, Sharon Laws obliterated the field at the National Road Race Championships in Yorkshire.

It would have seemed that Laws would have been the perfect team-mate for Lizzie Armitstead in the Olympics but the selectors had other ideas.

However, Laws, Armitstead and their AA Drink-Leontien team-mate Emma Pooley ensured there was a case of deja-vu at the National Championships by breaking away with one rival rider, Nikki Harris, and shaping the race from the very early stages.

Pooley won in 2010, Armitstead last year, so it was arguably Laws’ turn – although there was little doubt she was the strongest on the Yearley Moor and the rolling roads surrounding it. In the end, she finished more than a minute and a half clear of Armitstead.

It was the crowning moment of a solid year, in which Laws, 38, was sixth in the Tour de l’Ardeche and was a bronze medallist in the World Championships team time trial.


National mountain bike champion

Liam Killeen won the national mountain bike title for the fifth year in a row thanks to a dominating performance at Wasing Park in Reading in July.

The 30-year-old appeared to be in great shape going into the Olympic Games but because of the way the grid was seeded, by world rankings, he started in 28th place and had to push hard to work his way up.

Having gained ten places on the opening lap, he crashed hard on a technical downhill section of the Hadleigh Farm course, known as Dean’s Drop, and broke his ankle.

Although the Olympics were bitterly disappointing, his domination of the national championships in recent years makes him one of the best riders of his generation. Just as Nicole Cooke, Michael Hutchinson and Helen Wyman have, at times, appeared unbeatable, with long winning streaks in their favoured events, so Killeen stands ahead of his challengers in cross-country mountain biking.


Paralympic kilometre champion

There was so much drama in the cycling events at the Paralympics and the rivalry between Neil Fachie, with his pilot Barney Storey, and Anthony Kappes, and his pilot Craig Macean, added a fantastic dynamic to the tandem sprint events in the B category for visually impaired riders.

The kilometre was always likely to be a showdown between Fachie and Kappes.

And when Fachie and Storey stormed to a new world’s best time for the kilometre time trial, they were in the driving seat with defending champions Kappes and MacLean last to ride.

But Kappes and MacLean twice failed to complete their opening lap and the second time the commissaires were not lenient enough to allow them a third start.

That meant that Fachie and Storey won gold. They also added silver in the sprint, which was won by Kappes and MacLean.


Going downhill fast

Rachel Atherton won the UCI Downhill World Cup for the second time in her career this season.

In a discipline where disaster lurks behind every root and rock, where consistency on seven different courses that offer a wildly diverse set of challenges is incredibly hard to achieve, Atherton was the stand-out rider of the year.

She won the World Cup in Val di Sole, Italy, before strengthening her position with second place at Fort William in Scotland.

Then she won the final four World Cup rounds in a row – at Mont-Sainte-Anne in Canada, Windham in the United States, Val d’Isere in France and at Hafjell in France.

It meant she didn’t just win the World Cup title, she marched away with it defiantly, taking five out of the seven rounds.

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.
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Related links

Cycling Weekly’s 2012 British riders of the year index

Riders revealed so far…
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