At the end of last year BikeBiz asked for your suggestions on who are the most influential people in the cycle world for our BikeBiz Brit List 2014, in association with The London Bike Show.
And here are the cycle sport world picks…
Race Director, Tour of Britain
He might have two Olympic medals in his drawer (two bronzes for Team Pursuit in ’72 and ’76), but Bennett is these days best known as Race Director for the ever more impressive Tour of Britain and the newly launched RideLondon-Surrey Classic. The latter not only saw a whopping 15.8k riders take part in its debut showing, but also – within just 27 days of opening – saw 80,000 riders sign up for the 2014 edition of the race, which looks set to be something of a fixture.
With Sweetspot, Bennett has worked with the Tour of Britain since it was revived ten years ago to widespread acclaim. Last year the firm won a tender to organise it for a further five years as well as the new-for-2014 Women’s Tour, which will hopefully galvanise women’s cycling like never before in the UK. Bennett also works with the Cycle Show team.
Chris Boardman MBE
While involved in the design of his signature bikes, former Olympian Boardman is maybe better known nowadays as British Cycling’s policy advisor.
Having slammed ‘ignorant MPs’ who sidetracked an important transport select committee debate on cycling issues last year, Boardman – aka member of the ‘secret squirrel’ GB R&D team – is an active voice in the media and put himself forward should the Government decide to appoint a ‘cycling tzar’. Boardman did so on the condition that he be given quantifiable power to change Britain’s streets to become cyclist-friendly.
As you may have read in BikeBiz, the Boardman Bikes empire is becoming increasingly focused on building its elite ranges and building bridges with the independent retailer. Boardman has also been heavily involved with the Get Britain Cycling inquiry.
Sir David Brailsford
Performance Director, British Cycling
Brailsford is such a giant in the cycling world it’s hard to know where to start with this Knight of the Realm, but if the success of British cyclists on the international stage have inspired more people to saddle up then Sir Dave might just be the most influential person in the cycle world right now.
Splitting his time as performance director for British Cycling and as general manager for the all-conquering Team Sky, Brailsford has been behind the scenes for the most successful period for British cyclists ever. The first (two) Brits to win the Tour de France in a century were under his stewardship and the list of riders who have achieved big under his leadership is mind boggling: Sir Chris Hoy, Bradley Wiggins, Mark Cavendish, Victoria Pendleton, Chris Froome and Laura Trott, among others. In short, the cycling world without Sir David hardly bears thinking about.
Brian Cookson OBE
President, Union Cycliste Internationale
Finally bringing an end to Pat McQuaid’s often controversial reign of the UCI, former British Cycling president Cookson is now at the helm.
Since taking charge, Cookson has been credited with long overdue overhauls to the women’s cycling race calendar, beginning to look at reducing the number of archaic rules on aerodynamics and bike design, as well as promising swift action on delivering a report on the prior regime’s alleged anti-doping mismanagement with the introduction of an independent commission. Behind the scenes, Cookson has sent shockwaves through the UCI’s upper management, replacing once key staff with staff he believes essential to cleaning up the image of cycling. Expect 2014 to be a big year for Cookson as he meets with the International Olympic Committee and the World Anti Doping Agency, building bridges in the process.
Chief Executive Office, British Cycling
Drake first started working with British Cycling back in 1995, before joining full-time in ‘98. Since then he’s risen through the ranks to fill the CEO role since 2009.
While the exploits of British Cycling on the field (and indeed track) have been capturing the imagination of the public, Drake has spearheaded the other half of the organisation’s remit in his time as boss. His vision has been to drive membership of British Cycling not only to increase revenues, but also to grow the influence of the body – even a casual observer will have noticed British Cycling playing an increasingly active role in campaigning, regularly stalking the corridors of power at Westminster. Drake has also driven the creation of British Cycling’s infrastructure so that people will be able to find local cycling activities to take part in through British Cycling.
Sir Chris Hoy
Sir Chris Hoy’s influence continues to be as far reaching as it was post Olympic medal haul. With his own branded bikes now available through Evans Cycles, Hoy has managed to launch a household name for those with little prior experience of cycling. Road.cc recently placed a Hoy bike sixth in its bike of the year article, furthering consumer faith in the label.
With his early cycling roots in BMX, Hoy recently visited and subsequently recommended skate park facilities in Corby, opening yet another door to beginner cyclists.
The Olympian is also a regular at various bike shows, adding to the draw of exhibitions, where the track star will often speak to crowds and take questions on a variety of cycling topics. The UK’s most decorated Olympian is as perfect an advocate for cycling as you could hope for.
Victoria Pendleton CBE
Who could forget Victoria Pendleton’s final competitive race at the London Olympics? Though not victorious, Pendleton showed men and women alike what’s possible with hard work and commitment. Handed a CBE in the 2013 New Year’s Honours List, Pendleton has truly become a household name and has gone on to further develop women’s cycling, becoming the face of the Cycletta series, leading out rides up and down the country and personally taking to Twitter and other means to encourage more women to take the first step to cycling regularly.
Halfords was quick to sign Pendleton following the Olympics, introducing a line of women’s only bikes that sold extremely well. A favourite with the national press and weekly glossies, Pendleton’s reach transcends cycling as a sport and introduces it to a much wider audience.
Chief Executive, Welcome to Yorkshire
Cycle fans across the UK will surely have at least one set of dates blocked out in their diaries – when the Tour de France comes to Yorkshire, Cambridgeshire and London. And who do we have to thank for that? The Welcome to Yorkshire team, fronted by Gary Verity, is a good place to start. It was back in March 2012 that we first heard the team were putting the bid in to host the Grand Depart. Despite the cynics and a painstaking process the team’s work, buoyed not least by Wiggo (him again) winning the Tour de France in ‘12, paid off to bring the UK its biggest free to watch sports event ever (probably). Will this stoke the imagination of cycle consumers – and potential cyclists? We can’t be sure, but it doesn’t take a crystal ball to work out that 2014 is going to be another year where cycling is high profile and firmly in the eyes of the media.
Sir Bradley Wiggins
‘First British winner of the Tour de France’ are about all the words you need on Sir Bradley Wiggins, showing that triumphing in the world’s best known bike race is attainable for Brits and putting Le Tour on the map for the UK’s non-enthusiast cyclists. Whether it boosted sales remains to be seen, but in terms of profile raising for the sport it is incomparable. And then there’s the Olympic medals, scoring Gold mere weeks after his Le Tour triumph with Team Sky, not to mention at Beijing – those watershed Games for British Cycling. A Knighthood and BBC Sports Personality of the Year were to follow and though 2013 was quieter for ‘Wiggo’, the influence of his 2012 achievements hardly shuddered to a halt on December 31st ‘12. To top it all Wiggo is self-effacing and highly entertaining off the bike, which has helped endear him to the public.
The BikeBiz Brit List supplement, in association with The London Bike Show, will be included in the March edition of BikeBiz.