Throughout December we will be revealing Cycling Weekly‘s top 50 British riders of the year.
As we near the top 20 in our list of the year’s greatest British riders, we present another pair of two-wheel heroes.
NO. 22: GEE ATHERTON
His younger sister, Rachel, really piled the pressure on by winning gold in the women?s downhill at the World Championships at Val di Sole.
A few weeks earlier, the Atherton family had cleaned up at the Andorra round of the World Cup, with Rachel and Gee winning the downhill events and Dan taking the 4X. Although Dan missed the Worlds after breaking a collarbone, it was still a fantastic weekend for the Athertons.
Where Rachel led, Gee followed, beating fellow Brit Steve Peat into second place to become the country?s first men?s mountain bike world champion in either downhill or cross-country, just as his sister had become the first British woman.
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NO. 21: ROB HAYLES
Rob Hayles?s season encompassed some great highlights but also a personal low.
Having trained hard over the winter to force himself into contention for a place at the Olympic Games, he failed a haematocrit test just before he was due to ride the individual pursuit at the World Championships in Manchester. His result was 50.3 per cent, and even though the subsequent anti-doping tests were clean, a haematocrit test failure has a great stigma attached to it.
Hayles picked himself up and in June he hit a peak of great form on the road, winning the Beaumont Trophy Premier Calendar race and then taking a fine victory in the National Road Race Championship.
He had started something of a trend by wearing a track or time trial-style skinsuit in road races, which Nicole Cooke later did at the Olympic Games and World Championships and Dave Zabriskie of Garmin-Chipotle did at Paris-Tours towards the end of the season.
Hayles also won the Tour of Pendle, meaning he was the only rider not from the Downing family to win a round of the Premier Calendar. And at each race he won he demonstrated his ability to come up with a smart tactical approach, often attacking on a descent and using his turn of speed to get away.
At the end of the season, he was back on the track and back in the team pursuit quartet. At the Manchester World Cup, the 35-year-old completed his first sub-four-minute team pursuit ride, an achievement which gave him almost as much joy as winning the National Championships.
RIDERS REVEALED SO FAR
December 14: No. 24 Joanna Rowsell and 23 Simon Richardson
December 13: No. 26 Rachel Atherton and 25 Ben Swift
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