In what may have been our most glorious sporting year, it was equally glorious that the figurehead for British podium-hogging wasn’t some blank-eyed, cliché-spitting, laboratory-built Hercules. Instead, he was a guy just like you and me. A guy who likes a drink, likes a dance, is sort of gangly, occasionally cocky, but even in the face of rabid media adulation remains unfailingly down-to-earth. That guy is Bradley Wiggins
That he’s a fully paid-up member of that most resilient (and quintessentially British) of style movements – mod – has only added to Wiggo’s likability. He may have shorn his trademark sideburns in a bid to regain some semblance of anonymity, but whenever he’s been snapped indulging in a spot of post-Olympics socialising, he’s never looked less than Weller-level dapper.
Although 2012 may not have been the year that Wiggo made his name – let’s not forget, he’d already bagged six Olympic medals, including three golds at the 2004 and 2008 Games – with that Tour de France victory, it was the year he became a superstar. So, tonight, raise a vodka tonic to the magnificent mod on the bike. Now, though, turn the page to see the men racing in Wiggo’s slipstream, as our end-of-year awards continue…
2. Danny Boyle
James Bond, Mr Bean and a parachuting Queen; the Olympics Opening Ceremony was an unmitigated triumph.
3. Barack Obama
Still the only politician who can deliver a gag without causing widespread cringing.
4. Damian Lewis
Not all Eton students go on to become bankers or Tory MPs. This one conquered the globe in Homeland and won an Emmy.
5. Felix Baumgartner
Jumped off a spaceship while it was in orbit. And he’s not dead.
6. Mo Farah
We could have listed 10 Olympians, but Mighty Mo deserves a special mention for his gold-bagging, record-breaking runs.
7. Ben Affleck
Erased the bad memories of Gigli and Pearl Harbor by directing and starring in CIA thriller Argo. Plus, he has an incredible beard.
8. Gary Neville
Transformed himself from the most-reviled player to the most-revered pundit, despite using that ludicrous ‘wand’ thing.
9. Michael Fassbender
A star turn in Prometheus saw his profile soar, while a nude scene in Shame prompted George Clooney to remark that Fassbender could “play golf with his hands behind his back”…
10. Pete Cashmore
The 27-year-old Brit business mogul behind Mashable.com made Time’s list of 2012’s most influential people.