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British Cycling urges fans to tweet support for Mark Cavendish in run-up to Sports Personality

Campaign launched as charity representing women in sport laments all-male shortlist

British Cycling is urging the nation’s bike riders who are signed up to the social network Twitter to help back Mark Cavendish for BBC Sports Personality of the Year by using the hashtag #CAV4SPOTY in tweets mentioning him. Meanwhile a charity that represents women’s sport says it is “disappointed” that no women made the shortlist.

Besides its Twitter campaign supporting Cavendish, winner this year of the world championship and the green jersey in the Tour de France, British Cycling has also set up a dedicated page on its website and promises to make available a downloadable Cav mask soon, inviting people to share pictures of themselves wearing it via Facebook and Twitter.

With Cavendish being the only cyclist to make the list, announced during The One Show last night, the governing body is at least able to lend its full support to a single candidate, something that golf, with there representatives, and cricket and athletics with two apiece, simply can’t do.

The bookmakers have installed Cavendish as a clear frontrunner to become only the third cyclist to win the award to follow Tom Simpson in 1965 and Chris Hoy in 2008, with the winner determined by public phone vote on the evening of 22 December when the event will be screened live from the BBC’s new studios in Salford.

William Hill has Cavendish as 6/5 favourite, with only Darren Clarke coming close at 7/4. Fellow golfer Rory McIlroy is a distant third at 7/1, with athlete Mo Farah at 8/1.

The third golfer on the list, Luke Donald, comes in at 20/1 but it’s then a big gap to the rest of the field; athlete Dai Greene and cricketer Alastair Cook are at 50/1, with England cricket captain Andrew Strauss, boxer Amir Khan and tennis player Andy Murray seen as the outsiders at 100/1.

The final list of ten was compiled after the BBC asked 27 editors of national and regional newspapers and magazines to submit their own shortlists of ten names.

Immediate reaction last night focused on the fact that no women appeared on the list, although the BBC revealed that Ironman triathlete world champion Chrissie Wellington and swimmers Rebecca Adlington and Keri-Anne Payne had all been close to making the shortlist. Cyclists Victoria Pendleton and Shanaze Reade each received a single nomination.

Quoted on the website Inside The Games, Sue Tibballs, chief executive of the Women's Sport and Fitness Foundation, a charity that represents women’s sport, said: “We are disappointed that the likes of Keri-Anne Payne, Rebecca Adlington and Chrissie Wellington haven't made it onto this year's shortlist.

"However, while not the fault of the BBC, it's not much of a surprise given the lack of profile, support and stature of women's sport in this country.

"Our research shows the great opportunities that women's sport represents for fans, sponsors and broadcasters alike, particularly in view of the London Olympics.

"We hope that 2012 proves to be a fantastic springboard for women's sport and that future years' awards shortlist reflect that."

Simon has been news editor at since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.

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