World number one Philippe Gilbert was awarded the Velo d'Or award as the best rider of 2011, France's Velo Magazine revealed on Thursday.
The Belgian, who claimed a rare hat-trick of victories in the Ardennes classic races this season, beat Tour de France winner Cadel Evans and world champion Mark Cavendish in a poll of cycling journalists set up by the publication.
"My series (of Fleche Brabanconne, Amstel Gold Race, Fleche Wallonne and Liege-Bastogne-Liege one-day race victories) was quite phenomenal. What I'll also remember is that I was unbeaten from April 13 until July 2 (a Tour de France stage win)," Gilbert told Velo Magazine.
The one-day race specialist won 18 times in 2011 to claim 89 points in the poll with Australian Evans on 73 and Briton Cavendish 54.
Gilbert succeeds Swiss Fabian Cancellara, who won in 2010 after Spain's Alberto Contador had scooped up cycling's most prestigious honour from 2007-09.
Slovakian Peter Sagan was awarded the Velo d'Or Espoir for the best rider under 26 years of age.