My top 10 features what I imagine will be a much higher than average percentage of athletes who are still competing or only recently stopped.
Seven out of 10, to be precise, with only two whose careers took place pre-1980.
Which is not to belittle the achievements of the 'pioneers' of yesteryear; the likes of Reg Harris, Brian Robinson, Michael Wright, Barry Hoban, Malcolm Elliott et al . It rather reflects the phenomenal success of those riders who have, since 1997, benefited from Lottery funding and who have driven the current explosion of interest in the sport.
The simple fact is this generation's achievements far, far exceed those of previous generations, making it virtually impossible to ignore the claims of at least half a dozen riders. And that leaves very little room for others.
The fact, for instance, that Jason Kenny, who won his sixth Olympic gold medal this year to become the joint most successful British Olympian of all time in terms of gold medals won, only just squeaks into my top 10, and there is no place for his wife Laura Kenny (née Trott), the most successful British female Olympian of all time, or Victoria Pendleton, or triple Olympic gold medallist Ed Clancy, shows just how high the barrier of entry is.
How, then, to choose a top 10? As ever with cycling, the problem is you have so many different disciplines and types of rider. How can you compare the greatest road sprinter of all time, Mark Cavendish, with the greatest track sprinter Sir Chris Hoy? Or a serial stage winner like Cavendish with a three-time Tour de France champion like Chris Froome? Or a four-time downhill mountain bike world champion like Rachel Atherton with a four-time Olympic champion like Trott.
You cannot of course. It is all entirely subjective. But I have tended to give extra weight to versatility, longevity, and crucially, to the competitiveness of the field in which the athlete was or is competing.
This is why, for instance, Nicole Cooke features only at No 5 in the list despite having an extremely impressive palmarès including world and Olympic titles. Women's cycling was competitive when Cooke was competing but the depth was not like it is now – and it still is not as competitive as men's road cycling. Again, that is not to belittle Cooke, just to explain my reasoning.
Then you have the thorny issue of performance enhancing drugs in cycling. Should anyone who was ever popped, or found to have taken, or admitted to having taken PEDs be excluded? That would mean leaving out Tom Simpson, Robert Millar, David Millar and many more. At world level, it would mean disregarding the achievements of Eddy Merckx, generally regarded as the greatest cyclist who ever lived. Suffice to say, it is an extremely complex debate and not as black and white as some would have it.
Concentrating on the British riders, though, the top few spots picked themselves. It was simply a question of establishing the order, although it has to be said the choice of No1 was made more complicated by recent revelations.
Sir Bradley Wiggins would, until September, have been a shoo-in at the top of any 'Best Of British' list; the first Briton to win the Tour de France, five Olympic gold medals and eight Olympic medals in total making him the most decorated British Olympian of all time, world titles on track and road, the Hour record… Wiggins has shown incredible versatility in an age of specialists.
His therapeutic use exemptions for triamcinolone in 2011, 2012 and 2013 have, however, raised question marks . The injections may have been legal, but doubts persist as to whether they were entirely within the spirit of the rules. It is difficult to know how much that jab helped Wiggins in that 2012 Tour.
In the end I kept him at No 1 as it seems to me Wiggins is either on the list at No 1, or off it altogether. And while he and Team Sky may have entered a grey zone, ultimately they did not break any rules (although there is a UK Anti-Doping investigation ongoing into other separate allegations).
Cavendish could easily have been No 1, though, even without the TUE fuss. The Manx Missile is, if anything, underappreciated in this country, where a cycling public weaned on Olympic success and the cult of the yellow jersey arguably does not fully appreciate his extraordinary career.
Chris Froome and Sir Chris Hoy come next. As road and track specialists respectively, rather than riders capable of winning in both disciplines, I have them at three and four. After the aforementioned Cooke, I have gone for Simpson, Britain's greatest rider up until the cycling boom of the 21st century. Then the indomitable, inspirational Beryl Burton. Robert Millar, Chris Boardman and Kenny complete my top 10.
No room for Trott or Pendleton, then, which seems faintly extraordinary. Or Lizzie Deignan (nee Armitstead), David Millar or Clancy. You could make a case for any of them, and I did, but I found it was difficult to shift any of the above 10.
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