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Cavendish wins BBC Sports Personality of the Year award 2011

In most people's eyes, Mark Cavendish is the current number one sprinter

In most people's eyes, Mark Cavendish is the current number one sprinter (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Mark Cavendish has won the BBC Sports Personality of the year award for 2011. The cyclist beat golfer Darren Clarke into second with runner Mo Farah in third. Cavendish becomes the third cyclist to win the award after Tom Simpson in the 1960s and Sir Chris Hoy in 2008.

Cavendish had his best season to date. He won his third Scheldeprijs in April, before claiming three stages in the Giro d'Italia. Cavendish went on to win five stages in the Tour de France, en route to taking his first green jersey.

"I'm absolutely speechless but without my team this would not be possible. This award is a landmark for cycling. For cycling to be recognised in a non-Olympic year is unheard of," he said.

However the biggest win came in Copenhagen in September when he became the World champion, holding off some of the best sprinters in the world to win the rainbow jersey.

"I am absolutely speechless, some of my team-mates here will say I am that is a rare thing," he said.

"I had a group of guys who rode at Copenhagen who brought the rainbow jersey back to Britain after nearly half a century and that is a massive thing. Even to be nominated in the top 10 is an incredible thing."

Cavendish rode for Bob Stapleton's HTC-Highroad in 2011. In 2012 he will ride for Team Sky, where he will be hoping to not only honour the rainbow jersey but win his second green jersey and the Olympic road race in London.

Cavendish wins the vote:

Mark Cavendish 169,152 (49.47%)

Darren Clarke 42,188 (12.34%)

Mo Farah 29,780 (8.71%)

Luke Donald 23,854 (6.98%)

Andy Murray 18,754 (5.48%)

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