British cycling star Mark Cavendish has been put on a shortlist of ten sportsmen for the 2011 BBC Sports Personality of the Year Award, which will be given out during a glitzy ceremony at BBC Sport's new home in Salford, Greater Manchester, on Thursday 22nd December.
The Sports Review of the Year ceremony, which is now in its 58th year, will be broadcast live on BBC One. The shortlist of ten has been decided by members of the British local, national and magazine press, and, in a break from the norm, this year's final list contains no women, no footballers and no rugby players. The winner of the award - received last year by jockey Tony McCoy - is decided by a public vote during the broadcast, so if you think he deserves to win then vote for Cavendish and give British cycling a further boost ahead of what is sure to be a massive year next year. With cycling rapidly on the rise in the UK as both a spectator and participation sport, victory by a cyclist in a non-Olympic year would offer further evidence that it deserves its place in the mainstream.
Cavendish is aiming to become the first British road cyclist to win the coveted gong since Tom Simpson in 1965, who, like Cavendish, won the World Road Championships. As well as lifting that title in Copenhagen in September, Cavendish also won the green jersey at this year's Tour de France, successes that catapulted him into the general public consciousness and raised both his own profile and that of British cycling at the same time. The only other cyclist to win it is Sir Chris Hoy, who took the honour in 2008 after his exploits on the track at the Beijing Olympics.
Bookmakers have reported a steady stream of money for Cavendish to win the award in recent days and as a result they have trimmed his odds into even money favourite to see off the challenge of his main market rivals: golfers Darren Clarke and Rory McIlroy, who both won Majors in 2011; and runner Mo Farah, who became the first British male to win a long distance gold medal at a global championships with victory in the 5,000m at the World Athletics Championships in Daegu, South Korea.
As well as enjoying an phenomenal year in the saddle and a big money transfer to Team Sky, Cavendish is also celebrating the impending arrival of his first child, which is due in April. He spoke to Cyclingnews about his joy at the prospect of becoming a father earlier this month at the Action Medical Research Champions of Cyclesport charity dinner.
2011 BBC Sports Personality of the Year - final shortlist (alphabetical order)
Mark Cavendish (cycling)
Darren Clarke (golf)
Alastair Cook (cricket)
Luke Donald (golf)
Mo Farah (athletics)
Dai Greene (athletics)
Amir Khan (boxing)
Rory McIlroy (golf)
Andy Murray (tennis)
Andrew Strauss (cricket)