September 17 - The remarkable success of British cycling has been praised by Pat McQuaid (pictured), the President of the world governing body UCI, who has claimed that it has the best programme in the sport.

British cyclists finished top of the medals table at the Olympics in Beijing last year with 14 medals, including eight gold, seven of them on the track with Chris Hoy winning three and Bradley Wiggins two.

Wiggins has since transferred his impressive form on the track onto the road, finishing fourth in this year's Tour de France.

He said: "If you look at the British, here you have a track racer, Bradley Wiggins, he sits down with his trainer and he loses weight, builds muscle and hones in on his climbing ability.

"British cycling is the best example of how it should be done."

Britain owes much of its success to the programme originally put in place by Peter Keen, who, in 1997, set-up a plan that was aimed at making the country the top cycling nation in the world.

When Keen left in 2003 to join UK Sport he was replaced by David Brailsford, who has continued the programme with even more success, thanks to improved funding.

It has left McQuaid, an Irishman who was a former professional cyclist before he was elected President of the UCI in 2006, deeply impressed.

He said: "In 1997 and 1998 they [Britain] analysed the sport and looked at ‘hard medals’ and ‘soft medals’.

"Hard medals were almost impossible, soft were possibilities.

"Most of the track medals were historically divided up between France, Germany and Italy.

"The Brits put a programme together and got £1 million in funding per year.

"In Sydney [at the 2000 Olympics] they got a gold, silver and bronze on the track.

"Only one bronze justified the one million, but they did much better.

"After 2000 they built toward [the] Athens [2004 Olympics].

"They justified £2 million a year until Athens."

Britain won four medals at the 2004 Games, including golds for Wiggins (pictured) and Hoy, finishing third overall and using it as the launchpad for four years later.

McQuaid said: "Now look what happened in Beijing last year.

"By 2008 they were being funded £4 million a year and they dominated on the track."