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Page last updated at 12:13 GMT, Sunday, 17 August 2008 13:13 UK

Cycling's Taff at the top

The British cycling team prepare for their Olympic bid
In the spotlight: The Team GB Olympic team prepare for Beijing

By Peter Shuttleworth

British success in an Olympics has never relied so much on pedal power.

Almost half of Team GB's Olympic medalists in Beijing are cyclists, including eight Olympic champions thus far.

Bradley Wiggins, Rebecca Romero, Chris Hoy, the men's team sprint, the men's Team Pursuit and Victoria Pendleton followed Nicole Cooke's early example by striking Olympic gold.

That's not forgetting the world and Olympic records that have been smashed along the way.

But as Team GB's cycling team in Beijing is drenched in plaudits, the power behind the throne is from a traditional cycling backwater.

Victoria Pendleton
Victoria Pendleton is British cycling's glamour girl

Wales is renowned for rugby union and male voice choirs, but the land of our fathers can now sing about its cycling achievements.

The 'Taffia' in British Cycling's backroom team are responsible for GB's domination at this year's World Cycling Championships and their great haul in China.

Brits won half of the 18 gold medals available at the worlds and it looks to get even better in Beijing.

If they weren't already, Wiggins, Hoy, Pendleton et al are now household names.

Six of British Cycling's 23-man support staff are (or say they are) from Wales - including the two big bosses who have both been hailed for their heroics in the background.

BBC Sport is proud to present the Welsh dragons who breathed new fire into British cycling....

David Brailsford
Position: Performance Director
Born: 29 February, 1964
From: Ruthin

He has been hailed as the genius powering British cycling's resurgence as a world force and as his MBE proves, such a view has royal assent.

The former competitive cyclist in France has progressed through the ranks into British Cycling's top job.

The sports science academic, also an MBA business graduate, has combined his sporting knowledge and business acumen to create a much-revered Olympic Programme that could transform Team GB to a squad that has the potential to return from Beijing draped in gold.

Shane Sutton
Position: Performance Manager
Born: 22 March, 1958
From: New South Wales via South Wales

The adopted Welshman struck gold in the team pursuit for his native Australia at the 1978 Commonwealth Games.

Sutton went into coaching and was Welsh National Coach where he inspired a new generation of cyclists such as Geraint Thomas and Nicole Cooke as Cooke won Commonwealth Road Race gold in 2002 and Huw Pritchard sealed silver on the track.

He left to coach the GB team after the Commonwealths in Manchester.

The 51-year-old, who oversees Team GB's specialist coaches, is a typical non-nonsense Aussie motivator whose catch phrase is "speaking as a Welshman..."

Julian Winn
Position: Women's Road Race Manager
Born: 23 September, 1972
From: Abergavenny

Winn is Team GB's coaching new boy, who joined the Great Britain team after a short stint as Welsh National Coach, is the road race specialist in the backroom staff.

He mentors Welsh hope Nicole Cooke and her colleagues.

The 2002 British Road Race champion competed at two Commonwealth Games for Wales and raced for the ill-fated Linda McCartney Racing Team in the 1999 Giro d'Italia.

Martin Ashfield
Position: Mechanic
Born: 24 November 1951
From: Newport

The former Cwmcarn Paragon rider and Risca bike shop owner helps keep the entire British Cycling on the road or track.

Ashfield is one of Team GB's team of expert mechanics that ensures the machines of the road racers, track cyclists and mountain bikers run smoothly.

Doug Dailey
Position: Logistics and Team Manager
From: Ruthin
Born: 24 June, 1944

The former Olympic rider from the 1972 Munich Games is the man who ensures all of British cycling's kit, scientific equipment, medical back-up and most importantly the athletes themselves all arrive safely in Beijing.

Dailey, preparing for his third Olympics as logistics coordinator, is British cycling's fix-it man and organising guru.

In order to make sure cycling's Team GB had everything it possibly required at the Olympics, Dailey started sending equipment to China as early as May to avoid any hiccups.

Tony Carpenter
Position: Soigneur
From: Cwmcarn
Born: 29 July, 1951

The second Cwmcarn Paragon team member in Great Britain's cycling backroom team is the man that ensures the talent are fed and watered appropriately.

The phrase 'you are what you eat' is never more poignant than in 21st Century professional sport and Carpenter ensures Team GB's rider have the right nutritional supplements to aid their Olympic challenge.

Not only does he make sure that every rider is where he or she is supposed to be, the 57-year-old is the man to give the competitors a comforting massage after a hard day's work to ensure muscles recover quickly during a gruelling schedule.

And not forgetting the Welsh riders...

Nicole Cooke
Event: Women's road race
From: Wick, Vale of Glamorgan
Born: 13 April, 1983

Welsh cycling's taliswoman is a sporting phenomenon.

The two-time World Cup winner has won tours in France and Germany but in 2003 Cooke was crowned champion of the prestigious Giro Donne in Italy, a race hailed as the women's equivalent of the Tour de France.

The 2002 Commonwealth gold medallist and nine-time British road race champion became the first British woman ever to top the UCI world rankings after her World Cup victory in 2006.

Cooke's only disappointment is finishing fifth on her Olympic debut at Athens 2004, but she more than made amends in Beijing with a stunning victory in awful conditions to start Team GB's surge up the Olympic medal table.

Her motto of 'pain is temporary, glory is everlasting' has made Cooke the inspiration behind a new generation of Welsh cyclists.

Geraint Thomas
Event: Men's team pursuit
From: Cardiff
Born: 25 May, 1986

This young prodigy "does not know how good he is" according to the top brass at Team GB.

The young junior world champion has not wasted any time showing his ability on the senior stage - two World Championship Team Pursuit gold medals are testament to that.

After winning bronze in the points race at the 2006 Commonwealth Games, Thomas showed his versatility by moving off the track and onto the road as he became the youngest rider in the 2007 Tour de France.

Thomas' Olympic debut was to help the renowned Team GB Team Pursuit four to a new world record.

"Geraint keeps surpassing people's expectations," said former Olympic champ Chris Boardman, a man who is not one to throw compliments around.

see also
Hoy clinches historic third gold
19 Aug 08 |  Cycling
GB storm to gold in team pursuit
18 Aug 08 |  Cycling
Awesome GB sprint team take gold
15 Aug 08 |  Cycling

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