A golden age for British Cycling
In his second blog for DCMS, British Cycling President Brian Cookson OBE looks back at this year's British cycling success and the positive effect this is having on the sport.
What another amazing week it has been for British Cycling. We have our third Sports Personality winner in five years, the news that the Tour de France Grand Depart is coming to Yorkshire in 2014, a £32 million boost from Sport England to fund grassroots cycling and UK Sport has awarded British Cycling £37 million for the next four year cycle to fund us through to Rio 2016.
If ever there were a time to sit back and say wholeheartedly that cycling has hit the mainstream, it is now. So much has happened since I blogged in July – it is incredible to look back and think that just a few months ago – as Bradley would admit – he was relatively unknown outside the cycling world, as were Laura Trott and Jason Kenny. Now they are household names, inspiring thousands to get out there and ride bikes. The 13,000 members that have joined British Cycling since Wiggins crossed the finishing line on the Champs Elysées in July are certainly evidence of this.
Mass participationPeople are taking to two wheels in their droves. In the last week we have also had the news that 200,000 more people are cycling now than were 12 months ago. That brings the total number of people cycling at least once a week to just under two million. There is still more work to be done though – we want even more people to take up our fantastic sport whether it is to compete or just as a way to get to the shops. The public’s appetite for cycling definitely helped Yorkshire in its successful bid to secure the Tour de France Grand Depart for 2014. If one million people lined the streets for the Olympic road races, then Yorkshire will definitely be able to draw the crowds in 18 months time, especially if they can catch a glimpse of heroes like Chris Froome, Mark Cavendish and, who knows by then, ‘Sir’ Wiggo.
One of the great things about 2012 is how brightly our women cyclists have shone. I am not just talking about our stars of London 2012 – Sarah Storey, Lizzie Armitstead, Laura Trott or Victoria Pendleton – there has been a major uplift in the number of women cycling regularly. Over 64,000 more women are now cycling at least once per week than were 12 months ago. The inspirational performances of our cyclists have definitely inspired this uplift but it is also down to British Cycling initiatives like Breeze – partly funded by Sport England – where we are providing female-only, led rides so that women can get together and ride in groups. There is a lot more work to be done to get more women into our sport and we are ready to meet the challenge on the road to Rio.
The buzz about our sport this year has been phenomenal and the further good news for us in the last week really is the icing on the cake in what has been the greatest year in our history. To be President of British Cycling at this time really is an honour and it makes me so proud to see how far we have come in the last decade. None of this would have been possible without the hard work of our coaches, volunteers, regions, members, funders, partners and sponsors – without them, we would not have a sport. A well-deserved rest is in order for us over Christmas but we will definitely be toasting the New Year with ambitions to make the next four years just as memorable.