October 7 - British Cycling has claimed that its membership has reached 80,000 for the first time in what has been described as "another bumper year" for the organisation.
In its annual report published today, British Cycling revealed that year on year growth rose by more than 40 per cent, thanks in the main to an unprecedented run of success that started with Sir Bradley Wiggins becoming the first Briton to win the Tour de France in 2012, followed by another major medal haul at the London Olympic and Paralympic Games and capped off by a second successive British win for Chris Froome at this year's Tour de France.
The report indicates that in the 12 months up until September 2013, British Cycling membership rose by 44 per cent from 56,041 to 80,749, the highest number since the governing body was established in 1959 from the amalgamation of the National Cycling Union and British League of Racing Cyclists.
As well as elite success on the track and road, along with world champions in BMX and mountain biking, British Cycling has highlighted a number of other key areas that it says has helped contribute to its growth including the election of Brian Cookson as the new President of the International Cycling Federation (UCI) last month and the organisation being named the Sports Governing Body of the Year at the Sports Industry Awards in May.
The governing body says that, in partnership with Sport England and Sky, it has also achieved its target of encouraging one million more people to cycle regularly, one year earlier than planned.
The creation, meanwhile, of nearly 100,000 opportunities for young people to take part in the youth racing programme, Go-Ride; the launch of a new strategy aimed at getting one million more women cycling by 2020; and the largest turnout ever for a National Road Racing Championships, which saw 35,000 riders take to the streets of Glasgow, have all contributed to its success in the past year.
British Cycling says that a "give the people what they want" approach is a key principle of its strategy.
"Members tell us they like to receive tips and guidance on how to ride, train and set up their bike, as well as discounts on cycling gear and priority access to major events like the UCI Track World Cup," said the report.
"A desire to support British Cycling's campaigning work, grass roots development and the Great Britain Cycling team are also increasingly cited as reasons for joining, while peace-of-mind liability insurance and legal support have remained core to our members' needs."
The organisation points to the continued growth of and improvement in cycling facilities across the UK as another contributing factor, including the opening of the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome in Glasgow, which will host the track events at the 2014 Commonwealth Games, the refurbishment of Herne Hill Velodrome in London and a new Mountain Bike facility at Clayton Vale in Manchester.
The Government has also pledged to provide funding for improving cycling infrastructure across eight major cities and four national parks and committed to cycle-proof all new roads and junctions.
"The legacy of our remarkable success at the Olympics and Paralympics, our Tour De France winners and the success of our athletes across all disciplines continues to have a huge impact on all people in Britain being inspired to get on a bike," wrote Brian Cookson, who is expected to be replaced as British Cycling's President by current vice-chairman Bob Howden at the governing body's National Council in November.
"When I first joined British Cycling in 1997 it was on the brink of collapse, had limited resources, no medal record to speak of and a historic low in its membership.
"I am delighted to be leaving British Cycling with the sport's governing body being in such fantastic shape and I know that there's plenty more to come yet."
To read British Cycling's annual report in full click here.
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