Spain?s Alberto Contador (Astana) has won the annual prestigious Velo d?Or prize organised by the French cycling magazine Velo.
Contador was not allowed to defend his 2007 Tour de France title after Astana was not invited to the Tour de France but a jury of international cycling magazines voted the Giro and Vuelta winner as rider of the year.
?I think this is the biggest prize in the world because all the world?s specialised cycling press have voted,? Contador said in an interview in the magazine.
Contador scored a total of 72 points, comfortably beating Olympic time trial champion and Milan-San Remo winner Fabian Cancellara (CSC), who was second with 47 points. Tour de France winner Carlos Sastre (CSC) was third with 36 points.
Britain?s Mark Cavendish (Columbia) finished fifth with 31 points and was the best sprinter in the classification after his amazing success in 2008. Cavendish finished ahead of world champion Alessandro Ballan (Lampre), with triple Olympic gold medallist Chris Hoy seventh with 11 points.
Sylvain Chavanel (Cofidis) won the Velo d?Or for best French rider. The 29 year-old won seven races in 2008, including a stage at the Tour de France. Chavanel beat mountain bike world champion Julien Absalon and Cyril Dessel in the vote. Chavanel will ride for Quick Step in 2009.
Velo d’Or Mondial
1. Alberto Contador (ESP), 72 points
2. Fabian Cancellara (SUI), 47
3. Carlos Sastre (ESP) 36
4. Alejandro Valverde (ESP), 34
5. Mark Cavendish (GBR), 31
6. Alessandro Ballan (ITA), 21
7. Chris Hoy (GBR) 11
8. Damiano Cunego (ITA), 8
9. Tom Boonen (BEL) 6
10. Philippe Gilbert (BEL) 4.
Velo d’Or francais
1. Sylvain Chavanel 100 points
2. Julien Absalon 99
3. Cyril Dessel 51
4. Mickael Bourgain 28
5. David Moncoutie 20.