Cyclist Mark Cavendish has won the BBC's Sports Personality of the Year, beating golfer Darren Clarke and athlete Mo Farah to the main prize in Salford.

He is the third cyclist to win the award.

The Isle of Man rider achieved the two huge goals he set for himself in 2011, becoming the first Briton to win the green jersey in the Tour de France and then clinching gold in the road race at the World Championships.

A tearful Cavendish, who joins Tommy Simpson and Chris Hoy as cycling's winners of the award, said: "I'm absolutely speechless. A few of my team-mates here will say that's a rare thing. Without those guys this wouldn't even be close to possible.

"I had a group of guys in (the World Championships in) Copenhagen who rode incredible and that brought a rainbow jersey back to Britain after more than half a decade, and that's a massive thing."

Cavendish, whose girlfriend Peta Todd is expecting their first child next year, has established himself as one of the best sprinters in the history of cycling and this year took his tally of Tour de France stage wins to 20.

Veteran Clarke was an emotional and surprise winner of the Open Championship this summer, five years after his wife Heather died of breast cancer.

Farah starred at the athletics World Championships in Daegu, South Korea, becoming the first British athlete to win the 5,000 metres title and also taking silver in the 10,000m.

Rory McIlroy, recent winner of the RTÉ Sportsperson of the Year award, was eighth of the nine nominees.