Nicole Cooke voted road.cc's Rider of the Year

Cavendish pipped as roadies run away with the vote

by Tony Farrelly   December 10, 2008  

Nicole Cooke (portrait)

In the closest of super-close polls Nicole Cooke took the road.cc rider of the year award by the tiniest of margins - 1 vote. Cooke and Mark Cavendish finished tied on 34 per cent of the votes cast, but that one last vote was enough to clinch it for the Welsh woman. 

It was nip and tuck right up to the end, the poll was about to close and the Cooke wins story was already being written when a sudden flurry of votes for the Manxman looked to have carried him over the line. The "Cavendish wins!" story was a bit further along… when a quick refresh of the road.cc  browser revealed that Nicole had got it right at the death. Not cursing in any way about the fickle nature of democracy we started the story a third time…

It takes a remarkable rider to beat a trio of Olympic gold medallists, and the first Brit to win four stages of a Tour and two of the Giro in one season, and their is no doubt that Nicole Cooke is a remarkable rider in any season.

2008 was the crowning achievement of her career so far, she not only won Olympic gold in a thrilling rain-lashed road race, but topped that off with the road race world title in October becoming the first rider ever to achieve that feat. Her success is a tribute to her incredible will to win, her guts, tenacity and toughness and to the skills of her team mates in the GB women's road team.

In a field of five contenders: Cooke, Cavendish, Chris Hoy, Bradley Wiggins, and Victoria Pendleton it quickly became a two horse race, although Chris Hoy got a respectable share of the vote to finish in third place. Cooke surged out in to an early lead, but was then reeled in by Cavendish who went past her in the voting. From then on it was a ding-dong battle between the two road riders all the way to the line.

The result was so close that had voting gone on another couple of minutes it's totally conceivable that Cavendish could ave won it. He'll probably get over the disappointment…in time and anyway 2008 has been fantastic year for him. Four Tour stages wins in one Tour edition is unheard of territory for a Brit, and looked to be a real contender for the green jersey before pulling out to conserve energy for his ultimately doomed attempt to win the Madison. Cavendish also showed really strongly in the Giro and in total took 18 wins over the season.

In a poll dominated by the two roadies Chris Hoy put in the best showing of all the track riders nominated pulling in 19 per cent of the vote. For cyclists - it's road rather than track that has the magic. It will be interesting to see how Hoy does in the BBC Sports Personality vote on Sunday where chances are he will prove to be the general public's favourite cyclist whether he can overhaul Lewis Hamilton to win the actual title is another thing - maybe he'll have more luck in the race of champions.

In the meantime we just have to figure out what the prize is for being road.cc's Rider of the Year. Wonder if Nicole likes plaid?