Posted by Editoress on 12/29/11
After a record number of ballots, readers have selected the 2011 Canadian Cyclists of the Year. We want to thank everyone who participated.
Mountain Bike athletes dominated the 2011 Canadian Cyclist of the Year awards, with world champion Catharine Pendrel of Kamloops, BC, taking two awards, and Downhill World Cup professional Steve Smith of Cassidy, BC, the men's title. The editorial staff at CC also selected the winner of the Roger Sumner Award, for the Best Newcomer, awarded to road racer Rhae Shaw. The 15th annual edition of the awards set new records for voting, and some of the closest finishes in history, as cycling enthusiasts from across Canada and around the world voted for their favourite Canadian cyclists across multiple cycling disciplines.
Catharine Pendrel, who won the world title in September, in Champery, Switzerland, as well as three World Cup events, consistently led voting for the Female Rider of the Year award, but was closely followed throughout the two weeks the ballots were open by Track Omnium world champion Tara Whitten of Edmonton. Pendrel took 43.1% of first place ballots cast. Pendrel also took top honours in polling for the Best Individual Performance of the Year, winning for her world championship ride. National Time Trial champion Clara Hughes finished third in the balloting.
From her home in Kamloops, where she is taking a brief hiatus before begining preparations for the London Olympic Games, Pendrel responded to news of her Canadian Cyclist Awards, saying. "Thanks CC readers. It is quite an honour to be chosen for these awards. There are a lot of people that were key to my "Best Individual Performance" at Worlds, so a huge thanks to my coach Dan [Proulx], husband Keith, Team Luna and Team Canada for believing and supporting me to the top. Happy New Year!"
In the Male Rider of the Year, Tour de France competitor Ryder Hesjedal, of Victoria, led for much of the polling, however, a late surge by the Downhill Mountain Bike community worldwide put Smith over the top, to become the first ever Downhill athlete to win a Canadian Cyclist title. Smith was a consistent top-10 finisher in the World Cup series in 2011, finishing fifth overall - the highest placing ever by a Canadian. Smith took 46.4% of first place votes. National Road and Time Trial champion Svein Tuft took third in balloting.
Smith, who is still recovering from a broken leg suffered in the final World Cup of the season, at Val di Sole, Italy, commented: "I am more then excited to receive the Best Male Athlete of the Year award. It's a major privilege, considering I was up against guys like Ryder and Svein, and being such a different form of riding. I can't believe I'm the first Downhill athlete to receive this award. 2011 was my best season yet. I was very happy to stand on the World Cup podium multiple times, and to finish fifth over all was a dream."
Canadian Cyclist also awarded Best Individual Performance awards to the top three results by voting, with Pendrel taking first for her world championship victory, followed by a tie between Whitten (Track Omnium world title) and Downhill professional Claire Buchar of Whistler, BC, for her bronze medal in the Women's Downhill world championships.
The Roger Sumner Award, for the Best Newcomer to cycling is decided upon by Canadian Cyclist staff, with road racer Rhae Shaw being selected for 2011. Shaw, who is based in the United States, exploded onto the national scene, finishing third at the National Time Trial championships, winning a stage at the Tour of Limousin and finishing seventh in the time trial at the world championships in Copenhagen.
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