British Cycling

British Cycling
Sport Cycle racing
Abbreviation BC
Founded 1959
Affiliation UCI
Regional affiliation UEC
Headquarters National Cycling Centre, Manchester
President Bob Howden
Official website

British Cycling (formerly the British Cycling Federation) is the main national governing body for cycle sport in Great Britain. It administers most competitive cycling in Great Britain, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man. It represents Britain at the world body, the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) and selects national teams, including the Great Britain (GB) Cycling Team for races in Britain and abroad. As of 2015, it has a total membership of 116,644.[1]

It is based at the National Cycling Centre on the site of the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester.


The British Cycling Federation (BCF) was formed in 1959 at the end of an administrative dispute within the sport. The governing body since 1878 had been the National Cyclists Union (NCU).[n 1] The legality of cyclists on the road had not been established and the NCU worried that all cycling could be affected by police concerns about racing.[2] The cycling historian Bernard Thompson said: "Events organised by clubs in the 1880s, although taking place on quiet country roads, were constantly interrupted by the police. Often horse-mounted policemen charged at racers and threw sticks into their wheels."[3] The race organiser and writer, Chas Messenger, said: "Thousands of cyclists were convicted or fined for dangerous riding, many on mere suspicion and unsupported evidence."[2]

The NCU banned all racing on the road and insisted clubs use velodromes.[2] A rebel organisation, eventually known as the Road Time Trials Council, began running races of individuals competing against the clock at dawn and in secrecy, to avoid police attention. The NCU eventually accepted the RTTC and the two organisations ran the sport between them, the RTTC interested only in time-trialling and the NCU administering track races and representing Britain at meetings of the UCI.

Infighting was sparked by the UCI's decision that world road championships from 1933 would be not individual contests but competitions in which riders started together. The NCU had never been against such races but insisted that in Britain they were on roads closed to traffic, such as airfields and motor-racing courses. It now had to select riders not on their talent against the clock but in a bunch. Selection races were held at Donington Park and Brooklands. Among the riders were some, like Percy Stallard, who believed races ought to be run on the open road. He organised a race from Llangollen to Wolverhampton, in 1942.[4] The NCU suspended Stallard and others and they formed the British League of Racing Cyclists.[5] It and the NCU fought each other until they merged in 1959.

The British Cycling Federation

The merged organisation became the British Cycling Federation. It accepted racing on the open road[5] and controlled all competitive cycling other than time-trialling, which remained with the RTTC. Cyclo-cross was administered by the British Cyclo-Cross Association, which was linked to the BCF. The BCF was recognised by the UCI. The first officials were perceived to be drawn largely from the NCU and there was bitterness among supporters of the former BLRC that they had been betrayed.[4]

The BCF had offices in central London. The first were in the headquarters of the Sports Council in Park Crescent, near Hyde Park. They then moved to Kettering, Northamptonshire, and finally to the velodrome in Manchester.

The British Cycling Federation was renamed simply British Cycling after it merged with the British Cyclo-Cross Association, the British Mountain Bike Federation, the English BMX Association and the British Cycle Speedway Council. Each is now a commission within the BCF.

Field of influence

British Cycling administers road racing, track cycling, cyclo-cross, BMX, mountain biking (including trials riding), cycle speedway, and in Scotland, road time trials. The main exception is road time trials in England and Wales, which are administered by Cycling Time Trials, the current name of the Road Time Trials Council. Only road time-trials in England and Wales remain outside British Cycling, but Cycling Time Trials works with British Cycling to organise the time-trial national championships.

BSkyB began sponsorship of British Cycling on 24 July 2008.

International dominance

From 2001 to the present day, British cycling has greatly improved its standing in world track cycling and is now considered a dominant force in cycling. At the 2004 Athens Olympics cycling events, Great Britain came third in the medal table. From 2004 to 2009, it came top of the medals tally for three out of six UCI Track Cycling World Championships. The team is noted for its distinctive high performance equipment. British Cycling continues to work with NASA, McLaren Group and many other organisations to improve track speeds. In the late 2000s, the team consisted of such notable riders as Sir Chris Hoy, Victoria Pendleton, Bradley Wiggins, and Rebecca Romero.

This success has continued in road racing with riders such as Nicole Cooke and Mark Cavendish. British cycling has also formed a professional cycling team with BSkyB as the main sponsor and Bradley Wiggins as the team leader and David Brailsford as the manager. In 2012, Bradley Wiggins became the first British cyclist to win the Tour de France. This was followed the next year when Chris Froome won the 2013 Tour de France. Team Sky is registered as a UCI ProTeam. Recent years have also seen British dominance in downhill mountain biking, in both the Downhill World Cup and Downhill World Championships. In 2014 all three female podium positions, and the top two male positions, in the Downhill World Championships were taken by British athletes.


Cycling clubs or teams affiliate to British Cycling to race in British Cycling events. Adult road racing licences are graded by excellence, from fourth and lowest to first and élite. There are licences for under-18s and for women.

International performances have improved since British Cycling began receiving money from the National Lottery funding in the late 1990s. It won three golds in the 2002 world track championships and four in 2005. Britain won nine of 18 gold medals at the 2008 world track championships. In September 2004, British Cycling helped organise the Tour of Britain, a five-day race finishing in London.

Britain has hosted the first stages of the Tour De France on three occasions, the Tour de France 1974, was not particularly well received. However, due to the improved popularity of cycling, and the international achievements of British cyclists, the Tour de France 2007 and Tour de France 2014 were deemed to be a tremendous success, the latter being described by race director Christian Prudhomme, as 'the best ever!', over 4.8 million people lined the route, over a three-day period.[6]

International affiliation

British Cycling is a member of the European Cycling Union, the UCI and the British Olympic Association.

Regional bodies

Nation or territory Regional body
 England no regional governing body
 Scotland Scottish Cycling
 Wales Welsh Cycling
 Isle of Man Isle of Man Cycling Association
 Gibraltar Gibraltar Cycling Association
 Jersey Jersey Cycling Association

In Scotland and Wales, British Cycling operates with regional bodies: Scottish Cycling (Scottish Cyclists' Union) and Welsh Cycling (Welsh Cycling Union). Scotland and Wales run national teams.

There is no regional body for England. England is not recognised as a region by the UCI, and there is no English cycling team outside the Commonwealth Games. For those occasions, British Cycling selects and supports the England team. Cycling is represented on the Isle of Man by the Isle of Man Cycling Association.

Cycling in Northern Ireland is organised under Cycling Ulster, part of the all-Ireland governing body Cycling Ireland. Until 2006, a rival governing body existed, the Northern Ireland Cycling Federation. It was affiliated to British Cycling, causing friction between the British body and the international federation, the UCI.

British overseas territories

British Cycling represents the cycling associations of British overseas territories in the UCI, if they are not themselves UCI members.

The Gibraltar Cycling Association is the regional governing body for Gibraltar.

Great Britain Cycling Team Olympic Programmes

Olympic Podium Programme

Riders in this programme are expected to be seasoned world-class performers with a track record of success at the highest level. Athletes are full-time on the programme and generally based near the team's Manchester HQ. Athletes may also be members of professional (trade) teams, receiving additional support from the programme.[7] Athletes on this programme include Olympic champions Jason Kenny, Laura Trott and Philip Hindes as well as Tour de France winner Sir Bradley Wiggins.

Olympic Senior Academy

Riders aged typically 18 to 23 and exceptional athletes with the clear potential to become world-class performers. The programme aims to add the final technical polish, whilst building up training loads to those likely to be experienced by the senior elite athletes.[8]

Olympic Junior Academy

Riders aged typically 16 to 18, who are already experienced and focused on a career in professional cycling. The programme aims to add technical experience, including experience of preparing for major (junior) championships, plus conditioning. Athletes are typically still in education and focus on intense training camps, whilst still living at home.[9]

Olympic Development Apprentices

A regionally based programme aimed at finding talented young riders, typically aged 14–16 and preparing them for transition to the higher programmes.[10]

Paralympic Team

Athletes competing in four disability categories, primarily in track, road-race and time-trial disciplines.[11]

British Cycling Hall of Fame

On 17 December 2009, the names of fifty riders to be inducted into the British Cycling Hall of Fame were announced. The newly established hall of fame was created as part of British Cycling's 50th anniversary celebrations.[12]


  1. The NCU took over control of cycling from the Amateur Athletics Association. It was originally called the Bicycle Union. It became the NCU in 1883.

See also


  1. "Annual Report 2015" (PDF). British Cycling. p. 42.
  2. 1 2 3 Messenger, Chas (1998). Ride and be Damned. Harpenden: Pedal Publishing. ISBN 978-0-9534096-0-0, p2
  3. Alpaca to Skinsuit, Bernard Thompson, Geerings of Ashford, UK, ISBN 0-9513042-0-8
  4. 1 2 ABCC, "Shot and Shell days" by Ramin Minovi. A review of Ride and be Damned: Chas Messenger. Pedal Publishing 1998.
  5. 1 2 Dave's Bike Spot, History of British Cycling.
  7. Podium Programme Archived 16 January 2009 at the Wayback Machine.
  8. Academy Programme Archived 19 June 2009 at the Wayback Machine.
  9. Development Programme Archived 19 September 2008 at the Wayback Machine.
  10. Talent Programme Archived 12 April 2009 at the Wayback Machine.
  11. Paralympic Archived 19 June 2009 at the Wayback Machine.
  12. "50 Cycling Heroes Named in British Cycling's Hall of Fame". British Cycling. 2009-12-17.

External links

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