"This is one yellow jersey that will last the test of time," said Chris Froome from the winner’s podium at the 2013 Tour de France. This was an oblique reference to previous short-lived Tour victories, by riders such as Lance Armstrong. Froome is clean, claims almost everybody, including David Walsh, the Sunday Times sports reporter who brought down Armstrong.
Today, in Paris, Froome lost a few seconds on his rivals in order to take a rolling bow with his Sky team-mates. Five years ago Team Sky director sportif Sr David Brailsford said – to much bemusement – he would get a Brit on to the top step of Le Tour podium. And now done he’s done it twice. Last year’s Tour de France victory by (Sir) Bradley Wiggins set the clock ticking on an amazing 12 months for cycling in Britain.
As Team Sky’s Froome crossed the Champs Elysees in Paris today to claim the biggest prize in cycling, British Cycling’s president Brian Cookson said:
“Chris Froome’s victory in the biggest bike race in the world rounds off what has been a truly glorious year in the history of cycling in this country. Sir Bradley Wiggins started the ball rolling last year, followed by a wonderful London 2012. Their achievements have been matched by a growth in our membership of over 50 percent in the last 12 months.
“Chris’s performance is testament to both his commitment and talent and of all the people who have contributed to his success."
The achievements of British Cycling’s elite riders have inspired thousands of people to get on their bikes. British Cycling has seen an unprecedented growth in membership, recently hitting 75,000 members for the first time in the organisation’s history, and winning Governing Body of the Year at the Sport Industry Awards.
Cookson is also favourite to become the president of the tarnished UCI and, for cycling federations around the world (who will vote on who become’s the next UCI president), it won’t have gone unnoticed that Cookson was one of the key figures who, in 1996, took an ailing, squabbling British Cycling Federation and turned it into a world beater.
“Success on the world stage has without doubt inspired more people to get into recreational riding. Almost 30,000 people have joined British Cycling since Bradley won the Tour last year, 100 new cycling clubs have been formed and there are more people entering events and doing personal challenge rides than ever before. Chris’s victory is keeping our sport very much in the national spotlight and long may that continue.”
The growing profile of the sport has also allowed British Cycling to increase its influence on policy making at government level with British Cycling making key recommendations of the Get Britain Cycling report, which was published earlier this year.
British Cycling is also part of the government’s justice review group, and the cycling stakeholder forum set up by the Department for Transport. The Mayor of London recently consulted British Cycling on his cycling vision for the capital.