British Cycling aims to win Tour de France in 10 years

British Cycling President, Brian Cookson has spelt out the organisation's aims for a professional British Cycling road team. The first is no surprise, a British team to contest the 2010 Tour de France, there has even been talk of getting in for 2009. Getting to the Tour is one thing, winning it is quite another which is why Cookson, speaking to the Reuters News Agency, reckons it will take the team 10 years to achieve that. The stunning performance of the country's cyclists at the Beijing Olympics, where eight gold medals were won, has sparked a wave of interest and moves are under way to form a professional road cycling team capable of challenging in the major tours. "There is a very strong possibility that there will be a British team in the 2010 Tour de France," Cookson, who has helped to turn around a struggling sport in his 11 years as president, told Reuters on Thursday. "It's not a done deal yet but we want a fully professional team for the 2010 season competing in the highest level tours. That that would obviously include the Tour de France. "We are ranked the number one nation in cycling because of all the Olympic success but we will never be truly number one until we have cracked road racing as well. We have never reached the heights of a Tour de France contender. "There is a real will to get this off the ground. I said a while back that we would have a Tour winner within 25 years, now I say 10 and we'll have a major contender in five." Cookson said British Cycling's highly-respected performance director Dave Brailsford had made the formation of a professional road team a priority in the next two years. He said potential partners for the British team, which would feature mainly home-grown riders, had been identified although the current economic climate made funding the five-million-pound per year project more difficult. "We are not just talking about the Tour de France, it's about all the other major Tours and road classics," Cookson said. "We are looking at what we would need to do and to put in place to make it work. "Although we are in troubled times and it may not be as easy as it would have been a year ago...on the back of the Olympic success I think we have a very good chance of pulling this off." Britain's current top Tour rider, Mark Cavendish, winner of four stages on this year's Tour de France (as well as four at the Giro), would ideally be in any British team, said Cookson. However, he admits that securing his services would not be easy. "It's complex because people like Mark are already performing at the very highest level and are under contract with existing teams," Cookson said. "Until we have a team we don't know what we can offer him. "But the main things is we want a structure where talented road cyclists can compete in the highest level tours and the most difficult road races. "We want to offer our riders a chance to go all the way through, not take them part of the way and then have to farm them off to pro teams on the continent or America."

Plucked from the obscurity of his London commute back in the mid-Nineties to live in Bath and edit bike mags our man made the jump to the interweb back in 2006 as launch editor of a large cycling website somewhat confusingly named after a piece of navigational equipment. He came up with the idea for road.cc mainly to avoid being told what to do… Oh dear, issues there then. Tony tries to ride his bike every day and if he doesn't he gets grumpy, he likes carbon, but owns steel, and wants titanium. When not on his bike or eating cake Tony spends his time looking for new ways to annoy the road.cc team. He's remarkably good at it.