Carleton and Smith honored as Canadian cyclists of the year

Two riders from Vancouver Island swept the Canadian Cyclist of the Year awards, with Gillian Carleton of Victoria being selected as the female Canadian cyclist of 2013, while Steve Smith of Cassidy, British Columbia, won both the male title and best individual performance of the year. It was the first win for Carleton, while Smith also won in 2011.

The 17th annual edition of the Candian awards produced some of the closest voting in the history of the awards, with the winners of these people's choices awards only being decided in the final 24 hours of balloting.

The Canadian Cyclist Awards are the oldest and most recognized cycling awards in Canada, voted on by thousands of cycling enthusiasts from across Canada and around the world, through the online cycling publication Voting took place between December 13th and 22nd.

Carleton, who was a member of the Olympic bronze medal team pursuit squad at the velodrome in London last year, won a round of the UCI Track World Cup this year, as well as finishing third in the team pursuit at the world championships and second in three track World Cups in this discipline.

Carleton trailed national road champion Joelle Numainville of Laval, Quebec, in the early voting, before moving into a tie with 36 hours remaining, and then into the lead in the final 24 hours. Both Carleton and Numainville took 25 percent of the first place ballots, with Carleton scoring a higher number of second place votes. Laura Brown of Calgary finished third with 20.5 percent of first place votes.

From a national team training camp in Santa Ynez, California, Carleton said, "It feels pretty surreal to win best female rider. Personally, it hasn't been the greatest year for me, so to see such wonderful support from everyone means so much. The fact that the voting was so close (in all categories!) really speaks volumes about the quality of cycling in Canada right now, as across all disciplines, Canadian cyclists are stepping up and delivering world class performances. It's a very exciting position to be in, looking towards the Commonwealth, Pan-American, and Rio Games - Cycling Canada is coming into itself as a strong cycling nation, and I can't wait to see what the future holds!"

Downhill mountain bike professional Steve Smith had an almost perfect season; winning three of six World Cups and never finishing lower than fourth, to become the first Canadian to win the overall World Cup title. Smith also became the Canadian national champion, and won the Canadian Downhill Open.

Smith took the title with a late surge in votes over Tour de France rider Svein Tuft of Langley, British Columbia. Smith won 46 percent of first place votes to Tuft's 25 percent, with recently retired road professional David Veilleux of Quebec City finishing third with 18 percent. Ryder Hesjedal of Victoria, who was the Canadian Cyclist of the Year in 2012 when he won the Giro d'Italia, fared poorly in voting, receiving only 11 percent of first place votes after revealing in October that he used banned performance enhancing substances early in his career.

Smith also took the award for best individual performance with his World Cup win on Canadian soil at Mont-Sainte-Anne, Quebec, the first of three straight wins that led to his overall World Cup title. Smith was picked for 29 percent of first place votes, followed by Tuft with 18 percent for his stage win in the team time trial at the Tour de France and Veilleux at 17 percent for his stage win at the Criterium du Dauphine in France.

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