What is the challenge facing British Cycling and Sir Dave Brailsford?

“The size of the challenge in Team Sky has grown over the last few years. Having won the Tour twice, it has put us on the map globally, and it feels like a bigger challenge.” – Sir Dave Brailsford to rethink British Cycling role after Track Worlds

Er, winning Le Tour De France with a British rider was the stated purpose of Team Sky from the outset. How has that challenge changed, or did they think they’d fluke it once and that would be it?

British Cycling repeatedly hammer how it’s about planning to succeed, yet – when they get there – there’s no evidence of having done so. First Wiggins loses his mind at the end of a very successful year, now trying to defend Froome’s title is overwhelming infrastructure they’ve been developing since at least 2009, if not 2008, post-Beijing Olympics.

At the same time, the challenge facing British Cycling’s women on the road keeps on growing, yet I don’t see Sir Dave diverting his time and efforts into that.

Or perhaps it’s all further proof that there is still something endemic within the organisation that would rather play with shiny toys than develop the pathway for women road riders into the elite, or invest serious thinking into expanding the base of participation beyond spuriously numbering every single commute muddling recreational transport in with sporting activity – for example, people riding a bike somewhere to go for a pub lunch – and Sky Ride as some sort of “regular cycling” activity.

UPDATE: It’s been pointed out to me that Sport England doesn’t include commuting in its figures: “excludes any cycling which is exclusively for travel purposes only” – Once a week participation survey. I’ve now amended to reflect this – my view is that a lot of people view riding to work as much as recreational/exercise use as exclusively travel – “It saves me having to go to the gym”, as the oft-heard refrain goes.

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  • Sara

    What about other cycling disciplines too like MTB XC it’s an Olympic event and yet they get so much less backing than track and road. Even have to supply own bikes! It would be great to apply the same resources to that to see if we can produce a world and Olympic champion in that area too !

  • Sarah

    I find it bizarre that the BC push for cycling and women is all about the mass participation rides – great for leisure, but hardly regular – while initiatives like all Heather Bamforth is doing in the North West to get women racing are ignored and slighted. And like Sara says, limited support for MTB – and for non-Olympic events like Marathon MTB and Cyclocross, nothing at all – not even talking about it on the BC website.

    GB has been the no. 1 nation for women’s CX all year, yet they get no support – and Sally Bigham’s interview in Privateer last year – where she was talking about how BC wouldn’t even supply her with the full GB team clothing for Marathon Worlds – really shocked me. But hey, if I want to go to some mass participation event I’d need to drive to, that’s all good….