Monthly Archives: July 2017

‘I don’t want their support’

Brian Cookson

Brian Cookson is seeking re-election as president of cycling’s world governing body

Brian Cookson says he could not ask for “better endorsements” of his bid to remain as president of cycling’s world governing body than men he claims took the sport to “the brink of disaster”.

The Briton will take on French vice-president David Lappartient in September’s UCI presidential election.

Cookson has been called a “fraud” by predecessor Pat McQuaid, and criticised by disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong.

“Frankly, I don’t want their support,” the 66-year-old told BBC Sport.

“I couldn’t want better endorsements that neither Lance Armstrong nor Pat McQuaid like what I’ve been doing with cycling.

“They are the people who, in their own different ways, took cycling to the brink of disaster.”

Armstrong was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles in 2012 following a US Anti-Doping investigation into systematic doping, with the American later admitting to using performance-enhancing drugs.

McQuaid, meanwhile, was among those heavily criticised in a landmark report published in 2015 into the sport’s troubled recent history.

Cookson had criticised the Irishman’s handling of the Armstrong scandal, prior to beating him in an acrimonious presidential campaign in 2013.

Both McQuaid and Armstrong are backing Lappartient, with the latter posting the message “ABC (Anybody But Cookson)” on social media.

‘I took British Cycling from meltdown to success’

Cookson, president of British Cycling from 1996 to 2013, was criticised last month in a report that said the organisation lacked good governance at board level, and a “culture of fear” existed within the team.

Culture, Media and Sport select committee chairman Damian Collins said those failings meant Cookson should not be re-elected UCI president.

Cookson said: “I’ve never met Damian Collins, he’s never spoken to me, never telephoned me, never written to me, never asked for any contribution from me, so I find it a little strange that he feels able to make that kind of comment.

“I took British Cycling – with the help of many good people – from something of a meltdown, close to bankruptcy and one Olympic gold medal in 76 years to being one of the major sports in Great Britain, where we win six, seven, eight gold medals every Olympic Games and where Britain has more people riding bikes than ever before.”

Cookson added “people around the world” were surprised British Cycling – as “one of the most successful organisations in sport” – was being criticised, but was confident the organisation had learned “important” lessons.

He said he should instead be judged on “four years of progress” at the UCI, and having built a “splendid reputation” with the International Olympic Committee.

In 2013, IOC member Dick Pound said cycling could be dropped from the Games had Armstrong implicated the UCI in a cover-up, but extra cycling events have been added to the 2020 Olympic programme in Tokyo.

‘The UCI is not some provincial French town’

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Cookson leadership ‘not at the level expected’

Earlier this month, Lappartient told BBC Sport that Cookson’s leadership had been “poor” and “lacked a clear vision”.

Cookson said he was “not concerned” with the 44-year-old’s views, and was focused on delivering his six-point manifesto.

“I don’t need any lessons in leadership from David Lappartient,” Cookson said.

“He needs to understand how a large international organisation works – it’s not like a small town in provincial France, it’s much more complicated than that.”

Cookson added he did not envisage a “bruising” presidential contest, in the manner of his 2013 victory over McQuaid.

He said: “I’ll be respectful of the other candidate and expect the same in return – cycling doesn’t need a slanging match.”

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Double-seeking Froome to race in Vuelta

Chris Froome

Froome won his third successive Tour de France on Sunday

Four-time Tour de France champion Chris Froome has confirmed he will ride in the “vicious” Vuelta a Espana this year in pursuit of a historic double.

Briton Froome, 32, won his latest Tour title on Sunday in Paris.

No rider has won the Tour and Vuelta in the same year since the race moved from April, to August and September in 1995.

“I’ve got the opportunity and I’m certainly going to go for it,” Team Sky’s Froome, who has finished second on three occasions in the Vuelta, said.

“The Vuelta is a race I love – it’s vicious but it’s three weeks that I enjoy. I’ve come second three times now and I’d love to win.

“To win both the Tour and the Vuelta in one year would be absolutely incredible.”

  • Froome can go on to win more titles – Brailsford
  • Is Froome Britain’s least loved great sportsman?

The 2017 Vuelta – the Spanish race that is the third of the three Grand Tours along with the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France – begins on 19 August in the French city of Nimes and finishes three weeks later on 10 September in Madrid.

Froome could face competition in the general classification from many of the same riders who he beat to the yellow jersey in the Tour.

Romain Bardet, Fabio Aru, and Alberto Contador are all expected to be on the start line, as well as Vincenzo Nibali, who missed the Tour de France.

Froome has come close to winning the Vuelta on three occasions in the past – he finished just 13 seconds behind Juan Jose Cobo in 2011 while riding for team-mate Bradley Wiggins, before coming second to Contador in 2014 and Nairo Quintana in 2016.

Victory in this season’s race would make Froome the first Briton to win Spain’s national tour and only the third rider in history to manage the Tour-Vuelta double – but Jacques Anquetil’s victory in 1963 and Bernard Hinault’s in 1978 both came when the race was held in April.

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Women’s cycling: New-rider numbers up by 723,000 since 2013

Women-only Breeze Bike rides have proven popular

Women-only Breeze Bike rides have proven popular

Nearly three quarters of a million more UK women have taken up cycling since 2013, according to British Cycling.

Three times as many men rode bikes regularly as women in 2013, leading to the #WeRide initiative to get one million more women cycling by 2020.

“Four years on, I am pleased to say that the sport is in a different place,” said new British Cycling chief executive Julie Harrington.

She now wants stakeholders to work together to keep women cycling.

Dame Sarah Storey – Britain’s most successful Paralympian – said improvements in road safety could help.

“It’s one of the main barriers preventing women from cycling,” she said.

“It is crucial that politicians and decision makers take on board safety concerns, and ensure that our roads are appealing, safe shared spaces that can be used conveniently by all road users, regardless of their chosen method of transport.”

The target of one million more women riding by 2020 was seen as highly ambitious four years ago.

“We were almost laughed out of the room,” said Harrington.

“This itself was proof of the entrenched view of cycling as a sport for men.

“Our perseverance across all areas – from encouraging clubs to offer women-only sessions to training 70% more female coaches – is paying off.”

Wider gains for women

As well as the top-line figure of 723,000 more women taking up cycling, the report cites a wide range of advances for women in cycling since 2013:

  • More than 150,000 female attendances at Breeze Bike rides, British Cycling’s female-only rides programme
  • Almost 500 clubs across the country now offer women-only sessions
  • Number of trained female coaches is up 70%
  • Female race licence holders is up 72%
  • British Cycling’s female membership has doubled
  • Three women now sit on British Cycling’s Board of Directors

Interest has been helped by increased visibility and success at elite levels – British women have won more than 20 world titles since 2013 and claimed 10 Olympic and Paralympic cycling titles at Rio 2016.

But sustained gains are dependent on retention of those new riders.

“We need to better understand just why women drop off,” added Harrington.

“This isn’t something we can tackle alone – we’ll need the support of sports bodies, cycling and transport organisations, national and local government, and the media. But we are determined to crack it.”

If you want to take part in British Cycling’s women-only Breeze Bike ride programme, you can find sessions near you with the Get Inspired Activity Finder.

Or if you want to find out more about getting into cycling, check out our inclusive Get Inspired guide.

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RideLondon: Boxer Nicola Adams trains and takes a capital quiz

Fit For Sport Summer Term Activity Camp

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Tour de France 2017: Chris Froome can go on to win more titles

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Froome reflects on ‘incredible’ fourth Tour win

Four-time Tour de France champion Chris Froome will be a “force” in the race for years to come, says Team Sky principal Dave Brailsford.

Briton Froome, 32, sealed his fourth title and third in succession on Sunday’s final stage in Paris.

The record for most Tour titles won is five, held by Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault and Miguel Indurain.

“Chris can go on – there’s no reason to think that he can’t,” said Brailsford.

“Physically he’s got what it takes and I don’t think that’s going to diminish in the next year or so.”

Brailsford added that Froome’s chances of winning more Tour titles were a question of “hunger and mentality” and that the Team Sky rider was “as hungry as ever”.

“He’s getting better tactically and technically, so as long as that hunger continues and he keeps his health, then he’ll be a force in this race for a good couple of seasons to come,” Brailsford told ITV4.

‘It’s not a popularity contest’

In the three previous years in which he won the Tour – 2013, 2015 and 2016 – Froome has never finished higher than sixth in voting for the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year, failing to make 16-strong shortlist last year.

Froome was jeered by some fans during this year’s Tour and claimed he had urine thrown at him in the 2015 race.

“I don’t think it’s a popularity contest,” said Brailsford.

“You’ve got to look at the sporting achievement and Chris is right up there with the greats now, there is no denying it.

“He’ll be thinking about the respect amongst his peers in terms of what he’s achieved and how he’s achieved it and he’s got the utmost respect from them.

“He deserves all the accolades he gets and I’m proud of Chris Froome – he’s a great ambassador for the sport and a great ambassador for Team Sky and I’m sure a lot of people think the same.”

Team Sky have now won five of the past six Tours following Sir Bradley Wiggins’ victory in 2012.

“This is the greatest victory I’ve been involved in and definitely the most satisfying,” Brailsford told BBC Radio 5 live.

‘Our friendliest Tour’

Both Wiggins and Froome have been subject to scrutiny and asked questions about doping at times during their Tour wins.

Since Froome’s third Tour win in 2016, there has also been more widespread criticism of Team Sky and their principal Brailsford.

The former performance director of British Cycling has been questioned over the contents of a medical package sent to Wiggins at the Criterium du Dauphine in 2011 and the team criticised for the use of therapeutic use exemptions.

Brailsford also apologised for a “foul-mouthed exchange” with a reporter during this year’s Tour.

However, Brailsford claimed that this year’s race had been his team’s “friendliest” Tour de France.

“What has been interesting is there have been no difficult questions coming Chris Froome’s way this year, there have been no challenges like we’ve had in other years,” he added.

“In that sense I think that’s a really good sign where we’re at as a sport and where he’s at.”

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