Mark Cavendish was last night named BBC Sports Personality of the Year. The cyclist won the Road Race World Championship in Copenhagen in September, the first British champion since Tom Simpson in 1965. He also won five stages of the 2011 Tour de France, taking his total to 20, and this year's green jersey. Open golf champion Darren Clarke finished second with 5,000m world champion Mo Farah in third.
"I'm absolutely speechless really," he said on receiving the prize. "And I think a few of the guys, my team-mates here, will say that's a rare thing. But without those guys this wouldn't be close to possible. I had a group of guys in Copenhagen who rode incredibly, to bring the rainbow jersey back to Britain."
Cavendish was delighted to see the recognition for his sport. "For me it's a landmark in cycling, I think I take this on behalf of cycling," he said. "For cycling to be recognised in a non-Olympic year, a few years ago it would be unheard of. It's incredible to see it."
Five-time Olympic gold medal winner Steve Redgrave, meanwhile, won the Lifetime Achievement Award. He was praised by the Princess Royal for his contribution to British sport, and hopes that it will continue. "It really is a lifetime of achievement," she said.
"Frankly we wouldn't have done as well in our Olympic bid if it wasn't for Sir Steve. His fundraising activities have continued, not only with his own foundation but charities up and down the country. I hope this is a lifetime achievement award – so far!"
The England cricket team were named team of the year, after a remarkable 2011 in which they became the No1 Test team in the world. The year started with England completing a 3-1 Ashes victory in Australia, their first win in an away Ashes series for 24 years. They rose to first place in the summer, after beating India 4-0 at home.
Captain Andrew Strauss was unsurprisingly delighted with the award. "This is a very special award for us to win," he said. "There are so many great teams who have won this in the past. The team is more important than the individual and we've all bought into that. Thanks to [team director] Andy Flower and the coaching staff, they have pushed us when we didn't want to be pushed."
As a reward for the same achievements, team director Flower won coach of the year. Flower has been in charge since early 2009, and has overseen the radical transformation in England's fortunes which culminated in the successes of 2011.
"This is a very proud moment for me to stand here, I moved from Zimbabwe a few years ago and England has been very good to me and my family," Flower said. "I'm very proud to be part of the England cricket team. They have done some wonderful things over the last couple of years. I think everyone in this room realises it's the players that make the hard decisions, play under pressure and have to deliver. It's great to have a good bunch of players and a good bunch of people to work with."
Teenage golfer Lauren Taylor was named Young Sports Personality of the Year. The 17-year-old won the Ladies' British Open Amateur Championship and Royal Portrush in June, becoming the tournament's youngest winner in its 112-year history. She also competed in the British Open at Carnoustie.
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