Monthly Archives: December 2011

Cavendish backs ‘redeemed’ Millar

David Millar, pictured competing in 2007

Cavendish says Millar (pictured) is now a dedicated anti-doping campaigner

Cycling superstar Mark Cavendish believes David Millar has paid the price for his doping past and deserves a second chance at London 2012.

Millar admitted taking a performance-enhancing drug in 2004 but returned to the sport after serving a two-year ban.

The veteran Scot, however, is still subject to the British Olympic Association’s lifetime ban.

“He’s redeemed himself. I would love him to be [at London 2012],” BBC Sports Personality of the Year Cavendish said.

“Dave cheated but he has realised what he did and learned a lot. He’s a massive anti-doping campaigner.

Mark Cavendish

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David Millar must compete at 2012 – Mark Cavendish

“He’s a good friend of mine and an incredible bike rider – incredible.”

The BOA’s hardline stance has been on the books since 1992 but Britain’s national Olympic committee is now the only one in the world to maintain a lifetime ban for anybody who has served a drugs suspension of six months or longer.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) was recently forced to drop a similar sanction when the Court of Arbitration for Sport (Cas) ruled in favour of a challenge to it from the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) because the IOC penalty did not comply with Wada’s code – a set of harmonised rules for sport that stipulates maximum bans of two years for first-time offenders.

Wada then challenged the BOA’s by-law and Cas is expected to make a ruling on its validity in April, with many legal experts predicting that Wada will win.

Millar, who turns 35 next week, captained the British team that helped Cavendish win the men’s world road race title in Copenhagen in September and claimed a silver medal for the time trial at the previous world championships in Melbourne in 2010.

Performances like these have helped complete a remarkable comeback for a rider whose career looked finished when French police found empty phials of the blood-boosting drug EPO in his apartment in Biarritz seven and a half years ago.

Cyclist David Millar

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Watch: David Millar relives doping battle

Millar has become an outspoken advocate for clean sport and sits on Wada’s athletes panel. He is also the only British rider to have worn all three of the Tour de France’s main jerseys (yellow, green and polka dot) and the only Briton to have led all three of cycling’s grand tours (France, Italy and Spain).

But it is Millar’s experience and leadership that Cavendish is so keen to harness in the Olympic road race on 28 July, a week after the Tour de France finishes in Paris.

Cavendish had seven team-mates to help him in Copenhagen – Britain’s first world road race victory for 46 years – but countries are limited to just five riders each at an Olympics, making it that much harder to engineer the type of finish – a bunch sprint – that the Isle of Man sensation currently dominates.

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“If we want to win the Olympic road race, we need Dave,” said Cavendish, who became only the second British rider to actually win a leading jersey at the Tour de France when he claimed the sprinters’ prize in July.

“If you want to win and make history, you need a group of people around you.

“As with Copenhagen, there couldn’t have been anybody else I would rather have been with than those seven guys and everybody else that worked so hard to get us there.

“It’s the same with London. There are certain people I would want to share that with and Dave’s one of them.”

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Cavendish joy at win for cycling

Mark Cavendish

Cavendish has won 20 stages of the Tour de France

Mark Cavendish says winning BBC Sports Personality of the Year is a victory for his beloved sport of cycling.

The 26-year-old from the Isle of Man won the honour with nearly half the public votes from the 10-man shortlist.

“It makes me incredibly happy and so proud that I can play a part in making cycling a mainstream sport,” he said.

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We should be favourites for the first medal of the Olympics

Mark Cavendish

Cavendish was a landslide winner of the award with 49.7% of the vote. Golfer Darren Clarke (12.34%) was second and athlete Mo Farah (8.71 %) third.

In 2011, Cavendish was Britain’s first winner of the Tour de France green jersey – the award for the race’s best sprinter – and he also became the first British male for 46 years to win the world road race.

“It’s absolutely a dream come true. I work hard for my sport, I work hard to achieve success but what makes this special is it’s bestowed on me by the British public and that’s what makes it an unbelievable honour,” said Cavendish, who was fourth in the BBC awards in 2009 and seventh last year.

“It’s humbling for me. This is the third year in the row I’ve been in the top 10.

“I see a lot of people out and about riding bikes and it always makes me smile every time I see a family or a child on a bike.

“It’s incredible that people are embracing the sport that I love. It really is a beautiful sport if you get to know it, and people are appreciating what we do.”

Now the Manxman is looking forward to 2012, which will see him seek more Tour de France glory, gold in the Olympic Games and become a father for the first time.

He has already won 20 stages of the Tour in his career – putting him sixth on the all-time list – and is the first man to have won three final stages in succession since the legendary Belgian Eddy Merckx in 1972.

In a hectic July, Cavendish hopes to defend his green jersey in Paris in July before going on to become the first British male to win an Olympic road race medal, at the start of the the Games on home soil.

“It’s going to be hard six days after finishing 3,000 kilometres in three weeks, it’s just a case of trying to recover as best as possible,” said Cavendish, who is the third cyclist to win the award after Sir Chris Hoy (2008) and Tommy Simpson (1965). Simpson was the last Brit before Cavendish to win the world road race title.

“With the team I have around me, I think we should be the favourites for the first medal of the Games and it would be marvellous to get Britain off to a great start.”

Cavendish won five stages at this year’s Tour with HTC-Highroad, and will ride for Team Sky next year.


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  • 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%)
  • Andrew Strauss 17,994 (5.26%)
  • Alastair Cook 13,038 (3.81%)
  • Rory McIlroy 11,915 (3.48%)
  • Dai Greene 9,022 (2.64%)
  • Amir Khan 6,262 (1.83%)

“With the way my new team is set up, there is no danger of me running on empty,” he said.

In April, his girlfriend Peta Todd is due to give birth to a baby daughter.

“The biggest challenge of all will be fatherhood next year and the proudest moment of my life. The baby girl is definitely the best thing that could happen to me,” said Cavendish.

Former model Todd told BBC Sport that the award will hold a special place for her boyfriend.

“It’s incredible. He’s worked so so hard and I know how much the recognition means to him,” she said.

“It just shows such a difference in the public perception and the growth of cycling in Britain. I think that probably means more to him than this actual award.

“The support from everyone, on the internet, on Twitter, people picking up the phones, has been incredible. Christmas is going to be so special. I am over the moon for him. He really, really deserves it.”

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Cavendish wins Sports Personality

Mark Cavendish

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Cavendish named Sport Personality of the Year

World road race champion and Tour de France green jersey winner Mark Cavendish has been voted BBC Sports Personality of the Year.

The 26-year-old is only the third cyclist to win after Tommy Simpson in 1965 and Sir Chris Hoy in 2008.

Cavendish said: “I am absolutely speechless. Just to be nominated was an incredible feeling.”

Golfer Darren Clarke, who triumphed at the Open, was second with world 5,000m champion athlete Mo Farah third.

In the night’s other awards England’s cricket team were named Team of the Year, with their coach Andy Flower winnning the Coach of the Year award.

World number one tennis player Novak Djokovic, winner of three of the year’s four Grand Slams, won the Overseas Sports Personality of the Year, while teenage golfer Lauren Taylor scooped the Young Sports Personality award.

Athletics coaches Janice Eaglesham and Ian Mirfin won the BBC Sports Unsung Hero award.

Former rower Sir Steve Redgrave won the Lifetime Achievement award while Bob Champion was handed the Helen Rollason Award.

Cavendish won five stages of this year’s Tour de France – including the final time trial in Paris – to clinch the green jersey awarded to the race’s best sprinter for the first time.

The Manxman followed that success by confirming Britain’s emergence as a major nation in road as well as track cycling by taking gold at the World Championships in Copenhagen in September.

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

“I had a group of guys who rode in 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.

“That we can produce champions from such a small place is superb.”

Cavendish was awarded an MBE in November for his services to cycling and won the Sports Journalists’ Association sportsman of the year award in December.

He had 15 stage wins to his name prior to this year’s Tour, but had yet to finish the gruelling event at the top of the sprint standings.

However, a dominant performance at the head of his team’s HTC-Highroad train in the sprint stages and a stubborn refusal to slip too far off the peloton through the French mountains ensured he wore green from the 11th stage through to the Champs-Elysees.

Supported by a Great Britain team that contained the likes of Bradley Wiggins, David Millar and Geraint Thomas, Cavendish then burst to victory in Denmark to become the first British winner of the world title in 46 years.

“They were the two hardest goals I could possibly set myself in the year, but I had some great guys around me,” he said.

Cavendish’s five stage wins at the 2011 Tour de France moved him to sixth on the all-time list on 20 behind legendary Belgian Eddie Merckx, who has 34, a target Cavendish has in his sights.

“I’m not chasing records, but I have collected an average of five a year so it is definitely doable if things carry on as they have been,” he said.

Breakdown of 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%)

Andrew Strauss 17,994 (5.26%)

Alastair Cook 13,038 (3.81%)

Rory McIlroy 11,915 (3.48%)

Dai Greene 9,022 (2.64%)

Amir Khan 6,262 (1.83%)

Olympic rowing legend Sir Steve Redgrave gets the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2011 BBC Sports Personality of the Year event

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Sir Steve Redgrave given BBC Lifetime Achievement award

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Obree targeting new world record

Graeme Obree

Obree was nicknamed the Flying Scotsman after breaking the hour time trial record

Scots cyclist Graeme Obree has set his sights on a new world record, aiming to break the human-powered vehicle land speed time by a considerable margin.

Obree, 46, famed for his unusual bike designs and unorthodox cycling positions, is hoping to break the current 83mph record on a new vehicle.

“I don’t want to curse it, but I would like to do 100mph,” said Obree.

“If everything was perfect, with the power output and aerodynamic drag then 100mph might be possible.”

Obree was nicknamed ‘The Flying Scotsman’ after he broke the hour time-trial record on a bicycle he built himself from washing machine parts, but retired from top-level cycling in 2001.

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I’m always thinking what the limits are – I take everything to a limit where it can be – and that’s what sport is all about; taking everything to its possible limit

Graeme Obree

He was depicted by actor Jonny Lee Miller in a film in 2006 and was inducted into the Scottish Sports Hall of Fame last March, but now he wants to take cycling to its ultimate limit.

“I am setting out to attack the world land speed record, which is on a bicycle, but there’s no rules,” Obree told BBC Scotland.

“It’s a branch of the sport called human powered vehicles. The record is set as under the same conditions as cars – it’s on a flat road, not wind assisted, and with no other vehicle assistance.

“It’ll be on a straight, flat road, probably in Colorado at Battle Mountain.”

The trial will see Obree gather speed in a rocket-like transporter that contains a flat bike and a protective membrane which he has been working on for 15 years.

The Scot believes his own determination and refusal to accept limitations has inspired him to seek goals that seem impossible or unattainable.

“I’m building the bike myself with some help,” added Obree. “The whole thing is no more than three feet off the ground – it’s basically a human torpedo – you pedal it like fury.

“I’ve kept my fitness over the past few years and I’ve kept it going which means I have good shout of getting the power up.

“I’ve been thinking about this for 15 years – but when it comes to the skin, it’s not my area of expertise.

“The skin is a vitally important combination of carbon and Kevlar in case you fall off at 100mph. If that happens, then you’re going to lose some of your own skin, which is not worth thinking about.

“I’m always thinking what the limits are – I take everything to a limit where it can be – and that’s what sport is all about: taking everything to its possible limit.”

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Wiggins targets 2012 time-trial

Bradley Wiggins

Wiggins’ was part of Great Britain’s World Championship winning road race team

Triple Olympic champion Bradley Wiggins will prioritise the road time trial event at the London 2012 games.

The 31-year-old is likely to be part of a team supporting Mark Cavendish’s bid for gold in the Olympic road race four days earlier on 28 July.

But it is possible Wiggins, who helped Cavendish to World Championships gold, may not complete the full distance.

“With complete priority to the time-trial that’s unfortunate, but that’s the way it is,” said Wiggins.

Wiggins was a key player in Cavendish’s win in Copenhagen in September but the road race came after the time-trial, in which he was second to Germany’s Tony Martin.

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I think I’ve become more than just a time-trialist now, I think I’ve become a climber

Bradley Wiggins

Wiggins’ exact role in support of Cavendish in the Olympic road race on 28 July is yet to be determined.

“I will have a job that day,” he continued. “The coaches will define that job that I do and it will be with the priority of the time-trial.

“Whether that involves the whole race, the first part of the race, who knows? That’s all part of the strategy going forward.”

The Londoner, a three-time Olympic champion on the track, could also be called into the team pursuit squad in the velodrome.

Prior to the London games, Wiggins will target overall victory at the Tour de France, which begins in Liege on June 30 and ends in Paris on July 22, with Cavendish moving across to join him at Team Sky.

Wiggins crashed out of the 2011 race at stage seven but finished third in the Tour of Spain later in the summer.

“I think I’ve become more than just a time-trialist now, I think I’ve become a climber,” said Wiggins.

“It [the Tour of Spain] was a great performance, third place, but it was far from my best.”

Wiggins’ racing programme is almost finalised for next year, beginning at February’s Tour of the Algarve, and there is limited room for a track programme.

In February 2011 he was part of a British team that won the Track World Cup in Manchester in three minutes 55 seconds, one of the fastest times in history and only two seconds slower than the Olympic winning time in 2008.

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Johnny’s favourite stores