British Cycling has announced a multi-million pound partnership with broadcaster Sky for the next five years.

Every level of the sport is set to benefit from the investment, including Britain’s elite team of world, Olympic and Paralympics cyclists to British Cycling’s talent development programmes and grass roots initiatives in schools and local communities.

The partnership’s announcement comes as the British team enters the final stages of preparation for next month’s Beijing Olympics, when riders such as Bradley Wiggins, Chris Hoy and Victoria Pendleton are expected to lead a medals blitz.

wiggins.jpgThe arrangement with Sky will provide increased support in the run-up towards the 2012 London Olympics and beyond.

British cycling performance director David Brailsford said: “I believe this partnership will create a step change for cycling.

“Cycling is already one of Britain’s sporting success stories, and this is a truly exciting opportunity to grow the sport even further.”

British Cycling president Brian Cookson added: “Sky’s support presents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to transform our sport by building on our international success and using it to get more people cycling, more people engaged with the sport, more people belonging to British Cycling.”


Great Britain – for so long one of cycling’s poor relations, the quaint amateurs from across the water next to the sleek professionals of continental Europe – face a new challenge as they prepare for the start of the track World Championships in Manchester.

Where previously they had been also-rans to the French, Italians, Belgians and Germans, and where the gold medal won by Jason Queally at the Sydney Olympics seemed like a minor miracle, now the battle is in squashing expectations.

And, after last year’s Worlds brought seven gold medals, a sense of public deflation will be hard to avoid unless the likes of Chris Hoy, Bradley Wiggins and Victoria Pendleton achieve something similar on home timber.

“It’s a new challenge for us, having to manage expectations externally,” admitted performance director Dave Brailsford.

victoria_pendleton.jpgStarting from Wednesday and going on until Sunday, British spectators – some seeing a cycling contest for the first time – will file into the National Velodrome, comfortably expecting to see local boys and girls do well.

But, as much as the sport’s administrators are hoping for a publicity boost for cycling, for Brailsford the next five days are just one step of many on the road to Beijing.

“We want to be on top for the Olympics,” he added. “We’ve got a clear plan and we know what our strategy is for this year.

“And, if some people think we just need to turn up to win, they’ll get a shock.”

It is a view echoed by Hoy, although he will be trying to win a mere three golds this week.

“It’s important for cycling in his country that we do well – and for ourselves – but it’s not the be-all and end-all,” said the Scot.