Cav will ride over No.1 Luke

Great Britain's Mark Cavendish one of the favorites for the World Road Race Championships out training on the course near Copenhagen today ahead of the race on Sunday during Day Four of the UCI Road Race World Championships, Copenhagen. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Thursday September 22, 2011. See PA story CYCLING World. Photo credit should read: John Giles/PA Wire
Great Britain's Mark Cavendish one of the favorites for the World Road Race Championships out training on the course near Copenhagen today ahead of the race on Sunday during Day Four of the UCI Road Race World Championships, Copenhagen. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Thursday September 22, 2011. See PA story CYCLING World. Photo credit should read: John Giles/PA Wire
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YOU can always tell it’s that festive-time again.

That retail rarity, Mother Christmas, suddenly undergoes a miraculous re-birth, while calendar shops crop up in shopping malls up and down the land only to disappear – without the need for a magic wand – by December 31,

Oh, and another sure sign is the arrival of the pre-Christmas bash that is the BBC Sports Personality Of The Year award.

The BBC have published their shortlist of 10, which has made waves by being an all-male preserve, with not a single female.

Of course, as this column has suggested before, the BBC could solve any embarrassment by having two awards, one for a sportsman and another for a sportswoman.

As it is, the 10 are: Mark Cavendish (cycling), Darren Clarke (golf), Alastair Cook (cricket), Luke Donald (golf), Mo Farah (athletics), Dai Greene (athletics), Amir Khan (boxing), Rory McIlroy (golf), Andy Murray (tennis), Andrew Strauss (cricket).

My vote would go to Luke Donald for his unprecedented achievements in winning the European and United States order of merit. Donald has yet to win a major – as Clarke and McIlroy have already done – but it seems only a matter of time, and his almost flawless short game could be well suited to the Open at Royal Lytham and St Annes next year.

But he is a 25-1 outsider in the betting, and, in any case, the odds must be against a golfer winning the BBC bauble, as there is a three-way pull in the sport, one player detracting from the others.

Amir Khan can now be safely counted out, in the wake of his controversial loss to Lamont Peterson in Washington last weekend.

All of which means the likely winner of the prize is Mark Cavendish – he is already odds-on with the bookmakers to win.

Cavendish has made an indelible mark in perhaps the most physically demanding sporting event on the planet. the Tour De France – this year he became Britain’s first winner of the green jersey for the race’s best sprinter.

He was also crowned the 2011 road world champion, and a victory for Cavendish would not only be reward for him, but a fillip for the BBC’s TV rivals Sky – Cavendish joins Team Sky in 2012.

It is quite apt, as a lot of the footage on the Sports Personality Of The Year will carry the rider ‘pictures courtesy of Sky Sports’.

A depressing sign for the ailing operation that is BBC Sport.

n TALKING of festive topics, we will soon be regaled by the lists of memorable sporting quotes of the year.

And whatever is produced it will be hard to top the quote by former British heavyweight champion Danny Williams – one-time conqueror of Mike Tyson.

By all accounts, Williams has his eyes on the future if his jaw-dropper of a quote is to be believed. He said: “I want to become a professional bodyguard. I’ll learn how to shoot a gun. Obviously, you learn this growing up in south London, but it will be nice to be taught professionally!”

A clear case of a Merry Christmas and a not-so-gun-happy New Year!