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Cyclist Mark Cavendish Is BBC’s 2011 Sports Personality of Year

Mark Cavendish
Mark Cavendish won the British Broadcasting Corp.’s Sports Personality of the Year Award, becoming the third cyclist to capture the honor. Photographer: Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

Mark Cavendish won the British Broadcasting Corp.’s Sports Personality of the Year Award, becoming the third cyclist to capture the honor.

The 26-year-old from the Isle of Man, who had five stage wins in this year’s Tour de France, topped a public poll ahead of British Open golf champion Darren Clarke and runner Mo Farrah, the 5,000-meter world champion.

“I’m absolutely speechless,” Cavendish, who joins Tommy Simpson and Chris Hoy as cyclists to win the award, said at last night’s televised ceremony in Salford, England. “A few of my teammates here will say that’s a rare thing. Without those guys, this wouldn’t even be close to possible.”

The sprint specialist claimed the green jersey for topping the points competition at the Tour de France. His victories included the final day of the race on the traditional ride along the Champs Elysees in Paris. Cavendish has a total of 20 stage wins in the sport’s premier event.

Cavendish, known as the Manx Missile, also this year became the first Briton to win the road race world title since Tom Simpson in 1965.

The BBC award is one of the most prestigious accolades in U.K. sport. Previous winners include soccer player David Beckham, cricketer Andrew Flintoff and Olympic gold-medal runner Kelly Holmes. Jockey Tony McCoy took the honor last year.

Cricketers Alastair Cook and Andrew Strauss, golfers Rory McIlroy and Luke Donald, hurdler Dai Greene, boxer Amir Khan and tennis player Andy Murray were the other finalists.

The finalist list received some criticism after no women were included. The BBC said last month it would review the shortlisting process while saying it stood by the current system. The final winner is determined by a public vote.

The England Test cricket squad was honored twice -- it was named team of the year, while Andy Flower was selected as coach of the year. Five-time Olympic gold-medal rower Steve Redgrave won the Lifetime Achievement Award and top-ranked tennis player Novak Djokovic of Serbia took the overseas personality honor.

Sports Personality of Year: Mark Cavendish (cycling)

Lifetime Achievement: Steve Redgrave (rowing)

Team award: England Test Cricket Team

Coach of the Year: Andy Flower (England cricket)

Overseas Personality of the Year: Novak Djokovic (tennis)

Young Personality: Lauren Taylor (golf)

Helen Rollason Award: Bob Champion (horse racing)

Unsung Hero: Janice Eaglesham and Ian Mirfin (athletics)

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