Throughout December we will be revealing Cycling Weekly‘s top 50 British riders of the year.
To kick the month off, we present the first two riders to feature in our very own festive 50.
NO. 50: KATIE COLCLOUGH
There were a string of fine results for the under-23 and junior men and women at the European Track Championships in Pruszkow, Poland, but Katie Colclough gets the honour of kicking off our top 50 countdown for her versatility and the way she stepped up to the senior stage at the Manchester and Melbourne World Cups recently.
The 18-year-old from Grantham was part of the team pursuit trio that beat France in Poland, together with Jo Rowsell and Lizzie Armitstead.
Together they won World Cup gold for Team 100% Me in front of a capacity Manchester crowd, then beat the Aussies on home soil last month.
Colclough also won the bronze medal in the points race at the Manchester World Cup on a weekend when the strength in depth among the young women endurance riders really shone through.
But Colclough is not confined to the track. At the European Road Race Championships in Italy this summer she was eighth in the road race and a fine fourth in the time trial. Add to that her third place overall in the junior women?s Tirreno-Adriatico and she is one of the finest all-rounders of a super crop of youngsters.
It will be interesting to see if the young trio of Colclough, Armitstead and Rowsell keep Wendy Houvenaghel out of the team pursuit squad at the Worlds in Poland next March.
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NO. 49: CHRIS FROOME
Chris Froome wasn?t even British when 2007 gave way to 2008. The Kenyan-born 23-year-old rode for the South African Konica Minolta team (where Adam Blythe is now riding) last year, then joined Barloworld at the start of this season.
British Cycling became aware that he could be eligible to wear the red, white and blue and, as a handy climber, they began to think in terms of selecting him for the Olympic Games in Beijing.
He took out a British racing licence and most fans were still saying ?Chris Whom?? because most sources were still listing him as Kenyan.
But he was a fully-fledged Brit in the spring and finished the three Ardennes Classics, the Amstel Gold Race, Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège.
There was a hitch in BC?s plans to pick him for Beijing, though. An IOC rule bars an athlete for competing for his new country within three years of switching nationality. The Kenyan Cycling Federation at first refused a request to allow Froome to ride for Britain, not realising that they had not actually qualified a place of their own in the road events. By the time they did realise, it was too late.
In the meantime, Froome rode, and finished, the Tour de France at the first attempt. He was particularly impressive in the Alps, climbing with the front group until the final climb on the stage to Alpe d?Huez. In the final time trial at Saint-Amand-Montrond, he was 15th.
He followed that up with third place in the Italian one-day race, the Giro dell?Appennino, then made his Great Britain debut at the World Championships in Varese. Although he didn?t finish the road race, he?ll be very much part of the picture in 2009 and is on the list of targets for the GB pro team set for launch in 2010.