British Cycling President Brian Cookson OBE considers the positive effect Bradley Wiggins’ Tour de France victory will have on the world of sport and looks ahead to British cycling glory in the 2012 Games.
The Tour de France is known by most people as one of the world’s toughest and most inspirational sporting events, and to have a for the first time in its history is a fantastic and remarkable thing.
It’s going to have a big, galvanising effect on our sport. We’ve already seen the impact of the success in . That’s a quite specialised discipline but I think everyone can relate to riding a bike on the road up the hills and dales and it’s something that I’m sure is going to have an immediate effect on participation numbers.
About six or seven years ago I made a famous quote that a British rider could win the Tour in the next 20 years and it was subject to some derision and scepticism from the wider cycling community!
It makes me laugh when there was scepticism that we’d ever have a British winner, people are now arguing about which of the top two should be wearing the yellow jersey! What a fantastic situation to be in. We have to pinch ourselves every now and again to remind ourselves how far we’ve come as a sport.
Bradley has been one of the first to say that a lot of his success has been down to the that he’s received from people along the way, and I’m proud that been a part of that.
Bradley has come up through our structures and our systems. He’s been helped along the way. The way I see it is that governing bodies in themselves don’t make sports champions but our job is to give them the circumstances where their natural ability, talent and dedication can thrive.
That’s what we can do with other talented riders coming through the system. We’ve shown that over the last ten years or so – that we can find people with amazing natural ability, we can find people with dedication and can give them the support and encouragement that will allow them to reach the very top of the sport.
Together with , and and all those people who buy lottery tickets – we’re putting all that resource into developing cycling and giving opportunities to young people coming into the sport. It makes me very proud that we’ve been able to be a small part of that success.
– he’s applied himself incredibly well to one of the most difficult sporting challenges and he’s pulled off the prize. For me, to have a British rider winning the Tour de France is absolutely a dream come true. I started cycling in the 1960s when Tom Simpson won the world road championships and we had occasional success over the years.
We’ve gone from the situation where you would read about the Tour de France in the newspaper if you were lucky to the brilliant television coverage we can now enjoy. We’ve got a fabulous team of our own to support and we’re both winning and clearly dominating the Tour in a way that we only ever dreamed about back in the days when I first started riding.
This is almost a dream scenario. We could be in a situation where we’ve got Brad and on the podium and then five days later we could see of the games – a home games in London.
Then going on to the , the time trials, , and ; in almost all the events in the Games we’ve got a pretty good chance of a medal and even a shot at a gold medal. It just keeps getting better and better. We all have to keep pinching ourselves while reminding ourselves that we can’t take this for granted. It’s just a fabulous golden era for cycling and I feel very proud and honoured to be in my position at this time.
Mark Cavendish on the Champs Elysées image by on Flickr. .