Brailsford vows to focus on new generation of pro women cyclists

Comment came after Lucy Garner's win in World Championships junior road race in Valkenburg

by Sarah Barth   September 22, 2012  

Lucy Garner in the rainbow jersey.jpg

Dave Brailsford has been "thinking hard" since the Olympics about how better he can support the women cyclists who did so well at the London Games and continue to impress at this week's World Championships.

After junior world time trial champion Elinor Barker led Lucy Garner to victory in the road race, Brailsford said: “We are on the case, recent comments have not been falling on deaf ears and we have been thinking hard about it.

“I believe we have a good track record of supporting our best athletes and we will do it again," he told the Telegraph.

"These girls, along with the likes of Laura Trott, Dani King and others who have already achieved great things, are very special and we have a responsibility to them.

“Rather than just dive in I’m trying to hold everybody back just a little bit, maybe just four or five weeks, so that we can review everything properly and make sure we get this right first time. "

In a clear sign that it's nearly time for Sky to take on a women's squad he said: "We are very well aware that there is a stark inequality between women’s professional cycling and men’s, so British Cycling, along with Sky as its key partner, have been looking at some structures to see how best we can support and develop these girls.

"There has never been a better time to be a talented young British rider.”

Garner echoed those sentiments in comments to the Daily Mail. She said: "I'm definitely going to try and make it to the elite ladies. It would be nice if Sky had a team for women.

"Women's cycling is more and more popular. You can see it right here in Valkenburg."

Meanwhile today sees two other British greats, Emma Pooley and Nicole Cooke, take on the road race in Valkenburg. Lizzie Armitstead has pulled out of the race, but Cooke expressed her faith in Pooley.

"We will be up against bigger teams, some of them will go to the start line with seven riders and will have to ride really smart but that's part of road racing. It's about on the day making the best of the situations and the race dynamic.," said Cooke.

"You would have to make Marianne Vos favourite. She has a strong Dutch team riding for her but you never know with road racing."

We'll provide a race report here on later today.


11 user comments

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Dave Brailsford's stock is at its highest value right now which is why I'd suggest that he just come out and commit to setting up a women's pro team.

Now is the time, Emma Pooley, Lizzie Armistead and others have the talent - Youngsters like Lucy Garner are pushing at the door and there are 12 year old girls fired up at my local Club School evening cycle coaching sessions who will thrive on the knowledge that women's road cycling has its proper place in our sport with a UK based pro team.

The fact that Rabobank and Green edge can run a women's team (cervelo did it from day one too) just reflects poorly on SKY/BC -

To my mind its a no brainer not to simply commit to do it now - the postitive publicity and message benefit to Sky alone is worth it commercially and morally it cannot be put off any longer. I'd go further and say Sky need cyclo cross team as well. Big Grin


posted by Sudor [184 posts]
22nd September 2012 - 8:41


I'm sure with all these comments he's making dave's essentially holding out his cap to sponsors. You need money, and a fair amount to do it justice. I'm sure he won't want to compromise the current teams budget or even make a half arsed women's team, so lets get badgering BSkyB to make it happen.

posted by Nick T [906 posts]
22nd September 2012 - 8:58


Let's not forget SKY could pull the plug whenever they want, men's or women's team. Eggs all in one basket?


antonio's picture

posted by antonio [1108 posts]
22nd September 2012 - 9:34


The are probably other potential sponsors other than BSkyB out there for a women's road team, the problem may be with the level of Sky integration with British cycling. Which is often cited as part of the reason for the overall success of both.

I confess to not being clear on how this currently is set up, but can imagine that BSkyB might not be that appreciative of British cycling women's team in essence being funded by a rival and enjoying a considerable amount of media attention but having access to the facilities it has helped set up and funds . A Co-funding arrangement might be a way forward but that then both reduces the number of possible sponsors and increases the level of sponsorship needed. It would also increase the level of work the cyclist would have to do for sponsors and that reduces the time available to the cyclist main task training to win races.


posted by lushmiester [162 posts]
22nd September 2012 - 9:45


In terms of return on investment the Sky sponsorship of BC and the SKY pro team has turned out to be a golden egg commercially - hence the willingness to extend sponsorship - they'd be fools to pull the plug unless a reputational disaster befell team SKY.

For the Murdoch's , BSkyB Profits and its healthy promotion of BC and team sky are a an effective antidote to the bad news afflicting Newscorp etc. Cash for a women's team would do a lot to further it's positive reputation - I know its a lot in absolute terms but Skys funding of BC and team Sky is (well spent) small change in context of their turnover and profits and is far cheaper and more effective than buying its own TV time for traditional advertising. Come on James - you have the cash - do Sky a favour and put up the budget for a women' s team over the next 3 years.


posted by Sudor [184 posts]
22nd September 2012 - 9:54


Not sure about other potential sponsors, they are damn hard to come by in women's cycling - just as Stef Wyman, who runs Matrix-Prendas (

I'm not sure just how much Sky - the company - is involved with The Sun/NoTW scandals so, while the same arrogant, corrupt people appear to own/control the companies at the highest level that's not to say that the same practises occur in them all. I don't buy into this whole "Sky is evil" idea, it's just as blinkered and simplistic as claiming "Sky is perfect". The cycling team uses a tiny fraction of the company's marketing budget (did I read 0.5%) but it has made a huge impact, here and abroad.

There surely cannot be a better time to launch a women's team. Apart from the post-Olympic positive vibe, the publicity to be gained from 'rescuing' riders like Armitstead and Pooley (who may retire, a travesty!) with the demise of AA Drink would be significant; the team would provide a context for the Olympic stars, Academy riders and other hopefuls to train & race and for many more to aspire to or see as positive role models.

A strong women's team would hopefully mean more pressure on race organisers to put on a women's race at more events; and surely the images of attractive, healthy, active women (like this photo of JHTGP series winner Annie Simpson) would help get more people on bikes.

Simon E's picture

posted by Simon E [2415 posts]
22nd September 2012 - 10:57


The problem with a Sky women's team is who are they going to race against? One well sponsored team doesn't make a pro tour series. Without proper tv coverage of women's cycling more sponsorship won't happen. The women's TDF was last run in 2009 and lasted a week. The infrastructure you need to televise cycling is big so it's chicken and egg situation: No coverage without proper teams - no teams without coverage. I'm sure Brailsford's talking to other national teams to see if other nations can field teams.

If Eurosport - or even the BBC wanted to buy women's racing then it would be a start - and a women's TeamSky would be superb. I'd love to see Voss versus Pooley or Armistead over the Tourmalet. I hope someone has the vision to televise it.

The disparity between funds was apparent on the ToB last week. The Team Sky bus had 200 people gathered around it whilst 40 feet away TeamGB were operating out of a mini bus and two riders were getting changed in garden chairs with towels over their laps....

Silly me. You're probably right....

MercuryOne's picture

posted by MercuryOne [1218 posts]
23rd September 2012 - 15:37


Cannot understand why Sky didn't have a full time professional LADIES TEAM from the very beginning of Sky support for cycling.

But, better late than never, I suppose.

Would be great to see another British Company with the power to sponsor a Men's and Ladies Professional Race Team, to a very high standard; and give Brailsford a run for his money. A Virgin Team.

posted by Mostyn [430 posts]
23rd September 2012 - 21:05


Great article and comments here yet again! Agree that more teams than Sky are needed. The way out of this seemingly chicken and egg situation is for all the stakeholders in women's pro racing to get together and go get conditional agreements from the broadcasters (you too Sky) to show women's pro cycling automatically if the men's event is also shown. The teams need to get sufficient numbers of elite female teams together relatively quickly to keep the momentum.

Try some new ideas. Like total replication for classics and tours - the women riding first, daily, before the men do. Or some races are co-ed style where there must be two women at all times on the road with the men in the team.

This year has convinced me that women's racing is every bit as exciting as the men's.

posted by kiat [7 posts]
24th September 2012 - 0:14


What about supporting Womens Cycling as a whole Dave rather than those who just do well?

posted by Darthshearer [141 posts]
24th September 2012 - 9:47

2 Likes could take a step in the right direction - can we have a women's fantasy cycling section please Dave? I bet Marianne Voss would cost more than 40 points


posted by Sudor [184 posts]
24th September 2012 - 10:02

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