An open letter by British Cycling President, Brian Cookson:
Oh dear, according to Cycling Weekly, Phil Liggett thinks that British Cycling “doesn’t really know very much about road racing and don’t have the contacts” to enable us to get a British Tour de France contender. Sorry Phil, but you are way out of touch and I suggest respectfully that whilst you are travelling the world, you could easily keep up more with what British Cycling is actually doing these days by having a regular look at our website.
You’ll see there, for instance, that we now have an academy based in Italy, with talented young riders training and racing under the guidance of former TdF stage winner Max Sciandri, amongst others. You’ll also be able to read about riders like Mark Cavendish, who has been placed with a German pro road team and is serving an apprenticeship that will help him convert the World Championship-winning ability he has already demonstrated on the track, into a successful career on the road.
You can also read about the road exploits of some of our established stars like Bradley Wiggins with Cofidis, and Steve Cummings and Paul Manning, who are riding with Landbouwkredit – Colnago. You might also be surprised to hear that at least one ProTour team has visited Manchester to see how we do things and whether they could learn anything from us.
I tell you what, Phil, I’ll stick my neck out here. I believe there will be a British Tour de France winner within the next twenty five years. Now we both know that Tour de France winners are born not made, they are people with truly exceptional physical and mental abilities, and even then, they need an extraordinary set of circumstances and good luck, to become TdF winners. But there will be one, and I can guarantee you something – when he arrives, he will have been picked up through the system that British Cycling has put in place over the last few years to identify, support, coach and develop young riders with the potential to become world-beaters.
Think about it. A British TdF winner within 25 years. That means he’s out there somewhere already. He might already be at the Academy or in the Olympic Development Programme. He might be at a Primary School or a High School that British Cycling are working with. He may be in a Go-Ride club even now. He might still be using stabilisers as he whizzes up and down the garden path. But he is out there. And I reckon we will find him.
President, British Cycling.