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Page last updated at 05:07 GMT, Tuesday, 30 June 2009 06:07 UK

GB cycling chief backs Tour aim

By Martin Gough

Mark Cavendish
Cavendish starts the Tour de France on Saturday as a green jersey contender

Great Britain cycling chief executive Ian Drake has given his backing to the plan to deliver a British Tour de France winner with a new team by 2014.

But he refused to be drawn on whether Mark Cavendish or other British stars would be part of that line-up.

"Look back at what we've done in terms of Olympic and Paralympic success and set the Tour team in the same context.

"With Dave Brailsford leading the team and with Sky's vision and support it's got every chance of success," he said.

The 2009 Tour de France starts this Saturday, with Cavendish in contention to become the first Briton to win the green jersey as top sprinter. And Brailsford, the GB performance director who will manage the new Team Sky when it makes its Tour debut in 2010, was responsible for delivering 34 medals at the Beijing Olympics and Paralympics.

Brailsford last week moved to deny suggestions from coach Shane Sutton that top British riders David Millar, Bradley Wiggins and Geraint Thomas had already agreed to join the team.

International Cycling Union regulations prevent teams from naming their line-ups until 1 September.

And Drake told BBC Sport: "We've got any number of British riders coming through but it's just too early to talk about who will make up the team."

British Cycling on Tuesday announced a four-year plan to both enhance the country's status on the international scene and increase the number of cyclists in the UK.

Drake believes British success at the Tour de France is important in making riders household names and inspiring people to take up the sport. "More and more people are getting hooked on the Tour de France and on cycling in general and obviously to see any British success is fantastic," he continued. "It will hopefully inspire more people to get their bikes out of the shed and start to ride."

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The recently launched Skyride scheme of mass-participation events aims to get one million more people cycling by 2013.

"We're trying to bring together the whole of cycling so we can visibly see a difference in the amount of people cycling, whether it's in competition, for recreation or riding to work or school," stated Drake.

"Ideally, we want someone taking part in a Skyride event as a young child with their family, potentially in 10 or 15 years time progressing through to riding in the Tour de France.

"It would be a fantastic story and I'm sure it's something we can achieve."

Agreements have been made recently to bring the 2012 BMX World Championships to Birmingham and a leg of the 2010 Mountain Bike World Cup to Dalby Forest, Yorkshire.

And, after the success of hosting the start of the 2007 Tour de France in London, Drake expects the race to return to the UK in the future.

"It was an absolutely huge success so it's just an issue of when the best time is to do it," he added.

"It would be fantastic to bring the Tour back to the UK and I'm sure it will be part of our plans going forward."



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see also
House beats GB stars to win title
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Contador to lead Astana Tour team
25 Jun 09 |  Cycling
GB elite riders set for Team Sky
24 Jun 09 |  Cycling
Cavendish dismisses switch rumour
04 Mar 09 |  Cycling
New GB team to aim for Tour win
26 Feb 09 |  Cycling
Cavendish tipped for Olympic gold
05 May 09 |  Cycling
GB cycling team secure BBC double
14 Dec 08 |  Sports Personality
Cycling boss targeted by rivals
24 Aug 08 |  Cycling


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