Mark Cavendish on Monday called his nomination for the prestigious title of Britain's "Sports Personality Of The Year" a "great honour" that lent context to a 2010 which started miserably for the Manxman.
Beset by health problems in January and February, Cavendish struggled in the early part of the year before rattling off five stage wins at the Tour de France and three at the Vuelta a España, where he also triumphed in the points competition.
Cavendish's five stage wins at the Tour made him, at age 25, the most prolific winner of bunch sprints in the history of the race in only his fourth Grande Boucle.
"People in cycling might have looked at my season and thought it was less than stellar compared to the previous year, but I think this nomination puts what I achieved in context," Cavendish told Cyclingnews in Morgan Hill, California, where he and his HTC-Highroad team-mates are attending their first training camp of the winter.
Determined by a public vote, the title of Sports Personality of 2010 will be assigned at the end of live BBC awards ceremony watched by millions on Sunday, December 19. Cavendish finished fourth in last year's poll won by the footballer Ryan Giggs. Of the 10 shortlisted athletes this year, jockey Tony McCoy is most bookmakers' favourite, while Cavendish is quoted as an 80-1 outsider with some firms.
"To come in the top three would be brilliant, especially with it being a public vote, but I'm on the back foot," Cavendish said. "On the clips where they introduced the 10 on the shortlist, they used video footage for the other nine and still photos for me...Anyway, I think Tony McCoy deserves to be the favourite because he's had a great year. He's cemented a legacy.
"It's already a great honour to be shortlisted," Cavendish said. "Chris Hoy won this award in 2008, and cycling has had other great ambassadors on the shortlist in the last few years with Bradley Wiggins, Rebecca Romero and Nicole Cooke."
The HTC-Highroad star added that his second straight nomination for the BBC award was a reflection of cycling's rising profile in Great Britain.
"It's incredible to see how many more people are cycling when I go back there now," he said. "There are bikes everywhere. I also get recognized a lot more. In Europe, it's something I'd got used to. Now it's getting that way in Great Britain as well."
Cavendish and his teammates will remain in Morgan Hill, home to HTC-Highroad's new bike sponsor Specialized, until Thursday. They will then journey south to Agoura Hills for a week of intense training before Cavendish returns to the United Kingdom for the BBC awards ceremony.
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