British Cycling has set out a four-year plan to build on recent UK successes at the Olympics, Tour de France and World Championships.
The national governing body wants to use these achievements – in particular British cyclists' unprecedented success at the Beijing Olympic Games, where they won 34 medals – to inspire and dramatically increase participation in cycling in the UK.
Its Whole Sport Plan for 2009-201, outlined today, talks of using the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of the 2012 London Olympics to turn the strong foundations laid in recent years into "a lasting legacy for cycling in the UK".
The plan embraces cycling in the broadest sense, from grass roots to the elite level, from track and road to BMX and mountain biking, and from leisure to cycling as a form of sustainable transport.
It has been developed in conjunction with strategic partners UK Sport, Sport England and British Sky Broadcasting, who have helped significantly increase funding for the four-year period.
Ian Drake, CEO at British Cycling, said: “We have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity in the run-up to London 2012 to really engage Britain with cycling and turn our 'medal success’ into a ‘people success’ by inspiring mass participation in our sport. The scale of the task we have set ourselves at home is comparable to the challenge of going for gold in the Olympics but now is the time to act as we have never been in a better position to use elite success to grow cycle sport in the UK.
“With increased funding and fantastic public and commercial partnerships on board, we finally have the resources in place to drive real progress in all areas of our sport, from the elite team and talent development to volunteer engagement and lobbying for new legislation to allow competitive cycling to thrive. The purpose of all this is to grow our sport at a grassroots level and in turn increase our chances of future elite success."
British Cycling is aiming to meet the following objectives:
- Inspire Britain through success and establish the country as the leading cycling nation in the world. Focus will be on the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, and Team Sky's participation in the Tour de France. Aim is to produce a British winner of the Tour in the next five years.
- Get more people on bikes through a series of mass participation cycling events with British Sky Broadcasting. Aim is to get one million more people cycling once a month by 2013 through the new Skyride initiative. There will also be a comprehensive programme of led rides and sportives.
- Boost cycling as a sport by investing more and better resources in growing competitive cycling at a grassroots level for all ages and abilities. Aim is to increase number of quality cycling clubs, link schools to clubs and increase number and quality of events, and also improve coaching.
- Improve 'playing environment' for competitive cycling by creating a network of nationwide traffic-free facilities. British Cycling will also continue its efforts to improve access to the public highway for events and competitions.
- Exercise Britain’s international influence by staging major events in the UK. British Cycling is implementing a comprehensive bidding programme for major international competitions, with recent successes including the right to host the UCI BMX World Championships in 2012 in Birmingham and the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup in 2010 in Dalby Forest, Yorkshire.
- Position British Cycling as an essential resource for all cycling enthusiasts by embracing all disciplines, needs and interests. Aim is to grow membership from 27,000 to 100,000 by 2013.
Brian Cookson, British Cycling's president, said: “2008 went down in history as the year in which cycling made its breakthrough into the public consciousness. Our athletes have proven that anything can be achieved through hard work and complete dedication. We are now embarking on a four-year journey to replicate this success in the context of the whole sport."
Olympian Sir Chris Hoy said: “There has definitely been a renewed interest in the sport and in cycling in general since the Beijing Olympics, and it's great that British Cycling is now in a position to do so much more to grow participation at a grassroots level.
“We've got a great opportunity now in the lead-up to London 2012 to make cycling one of the most widely enjoyed sports in the UK and I'd love to see even more people of all ages and abilities getting involved. It's great fun and there are loads of different ways to get started, plus it's an ideal way to stay fit and is a low-cost activity that the whole family can enjoy together.”
Over the next four years British Cycling will be launching new initiatives, services and products to support these objectives. The Whole Sport Plan will soon be published in full, and the implementation starts now.