Broadcaster continues backing of sport from top stars down to grassroots level

British Cycling and Sky have today announced a four-year extension to their partnership under which the broadcaster sponsors not only Britain’s leading riders on the track and, through Team Sky, the road, but also grassroots initiatives such as Go Ride and Sky Ride which the governing body says has helped fuel the growth in cycling in the country in recent years.

According to British Cycling, the Sky Ride series – more than 20 were held in major towns and cities last year, supported by a further 45 smaller Sky Ride Local events, plus many more weekly rides in partnership with local authorities – have helped encourage nearly 700,000 to start riding a bike regularly.

Commenting on the new deal which extends Sky’s sponsorship until the end of 2016, British Cycling Chief Executive Ian Drake said: “I’m delighted that Sky has committed to working with us for a further four year period.

“The unique nature of our partnership with Sky has been a key factor in cycling’s phenomenal success story, perfectly complementing the support we receive from UK Sport and Sport England.

“The growth of our sport over the past four years has been amazing. Not only have our Olympic and Paralympic riders continued to deliver on the world stage, but we’ve also seen the emergence of Team Sky as a force on the road scene,” he continued.

“Being a world leading cycling nation isn’t just about winning medals – it’s also about inspiring everyone to get on a bike, from the playground right through to the podium.

“That’s exactly what initiatives like Sky Ride have achieved and we’re well on track to reaching our target of getting one million more people cycling by 2013.

“I’m proud of what we have achieved through our partnership with Sky, and I look forward to delivering even greater success over the next few years.”

Jeremy Darroch, Chief Executive of Sky, added: “We are proud of the partnership we have with British Cycling and look forward to four more years supporting the sport.

“Our aim has always been to increase participation, support the leading riders and inspire the next generation.

“We know we are making a difference and getting people involved, right across the UK, just as we have through our broad contribution to sport over the last 20 years.

“This is proof that sport can really benefit in the long-term through a partnership with Sky.”

One of the athletes to have benefited from Sky’s backing of the sport which spans the track, road, mountain bike and BMX disciplines is multiple world and Olympic champion Sir Chris Hoy, who said: “We’ve all seen the difference that Sky can make in cycling.

“Through events like Sky Ride – opening up cities for families or providing local led rides – they have helped get people back on their bikes.

“Their work with British Cycling has got more people to understand and enjoy the sport we’re all passionate about. And the support for elite riders has helped the current team and will go on to support the next generation,” he added.

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.