British Cycling says it is determined to continue the momentum that has seen Team GB’s riders top the medal table at the past three Olympic Games and take more than half the gold medals on offer in the velodrome.
“These Olympic Games have again been nothing short of sensational for our cyclists,” said British Cycling president Bob Howden.
“To finish up with 12 medals is a fantastic achievement for the riders involved, and for every member of the support staff.”
Many of the riders who took gold in Rio had already won Olympic gold – in some cases, more than once – but others were enjoying success at this level for the first time, as Howden noted.
“To watch our established names such as Sir Bradley Wiggins, Ed Clancy, Laura Trott, Joanna Rowsell Shand and Jason Kenny cement their status among Britain’s greatest Olympians has been wonderful, but just as pleasing has been the emergence of Olympic debutants such as Katie Archibald, Elinor Barker, Owain Doull and Callum Skinner,” he said.
“The fact that this new generation can all now also call themselves Olympic champions is testament to the experience that their team-mates have been able to pass on, but also to the system we have in place at British Cycling, which continues to develop world-class cyclists.”
The 12 medals – 11 of those on the track – beat the target of 8-10 medals set by UK Sport ahead of Rio, which will influence the amount of funding provided in the next Olympic cycle.
At London 2012, where Team GB also won 12 medals across the cycling disciplines against a target of 6-10, funding for the years to 2016 rose to £30.2 million, up from £26 million in the previous four years.
Other countries are now examining the British model, which across all funded sports prioritises Olympic success over world championships and other events.
Cycling Australia has called for more weight to be given to the Olympics, although with the 2018 Commonwealth Games being held on Queensland’s Gold Coast, there will be added pressure midway through the next four years on their cyclists to perform at home.
Great Britain’s performance in cycling at the Olympics has been transformed since the introduction of Lottery funding in 1998, building through Athens in 2004 to the dominance on the track at Beijing, London and now Rio.
“The establishment and continuation of this system would not have been possible without the funding that we receive from UK Sport, Sport England and the National Lottery,” said Howden.
“We remain extremely grateful to these organisations, and to Sky, our principal partner for the last eight years, who have also contributed so much to the British Cycling story.”
He also underlined the role that talent-spotting and development of young riders made in producing the current generation of riders, saying: “Two thirds of the cycling squad which travelled to Rio were graduates of British Cycling’s Go-Ride programme, which equips young riders with the skills and confidence needed to ride and race their bikes.
“The Go-Ride programme continues to prove incredibly successful,” he went on. “For children to be able to see a clear pathway to the top of the sport, and be able to admire Olympic champions who have followed that path, is inspirational, and gives us a great opportunity to encourage more young people to take up cycling, whether competitively or recreationally.”
He also said that he believes Olympic success will encourage more people to take up cycling, for whatever reason.
“We recently celebrated recruiting our 125,000th member, and we recognise and take seriously our responsibility to represent each and every one of those members, whether they race competitively, ride to keep fit, or commute to work or school on their bike,” he said.
“Cycling has once again captured the nation’s imagination over the past two weeks, and it is clear that there is a growing appetite to get more people on bikes, which will make Britain a healthier, fitter, cleaner and greener country.
“We will continue to campaign for stronger political leadership, smart investment and better infrastructure,” Howden concluded.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.