Riding high on Olympic cycle gold victories

Great Britain's (left to right) Chris Hoy, Jason Kenny and Philip Hindes in the team sprint first round on the first day of the track cycling at the Velodrome in the Olympic Park. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday August 2, 2012. See PA story OLYMPICS Cycling Track. Photo credit should read: Tim Ireland/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Great Britain's (left to right) Chris Hoy, Jason Kenny and Philip Hindes in the team sprint first round on the first day of the track cycling at the Velodrome in the Olympic Park. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday August 2, 2012. See PA story OLYMPICS Cycling Track. Photo credit should read: Tim Ireland/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
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Cycling clubs in Scarborough are set to be riding high in the wake of recent successes by British riders on the international stage.

Winning performances in the Tour de France, as well as a clutch of London 2012 Olympic medals, have led to a surge in interest from people looking to take up the sport.

Debbie Richardson, from Richardson’s Cycle Club, said that membership had increased by 10 per cent in recent weeks.

She added: “We are definitely busierbecause of it – there’s no question – it’s got the feel good factor.”

Last month Bradley Wiggins became the first British rider to win the Tour de France – with a winning margin of three minutes and 21 seconds – with fellow Brit Mark Cavendish winning the final stage for the fourth year in a row.

And Team GB’s cyclists have gone from strength-to-strength with gold medals for a number of riders including: Jason Kenny and Bradley Wiggins.

Debbie said: “There’s an element of preaching to the converted. There are a lot of people that know the name Bradley Wiggins that didn’t a month ago. But they are not going to ride a bike.”

She added that other schemes – such as Bike to Work and Bikeability – also helped to encourage people to get back into the saddle. “It’s a sensible alternative to getting fit, the bike is in your garage and you just get on it, and you don’t have to make an appointment.”

One club member, 17-year-old Mike Thompson, started as a 13-year-old, and could be one of the UK’s Olympic hopefuls at the next Olympic Games.

Debbie said that he started with the club because he knew he wanted to improve. “We’ve coached him until this year. He was spotted by Team GB. He’s had the drive to get to the Olympics – so he might be there in four years’ time.”

His coach, Mark Grange, said that Mike was currently going through an Olympic Development Programme which is organised by British Cycling.

He said he had raced in a number of European countries – including the Czech Republic, Belgium and France – and was due to race in the World Championships in Austria next month.

“Mike was referred to the club and I went to meet him at home. He’d only done a couple of races but I knew he had the potential to race at a national level,” he added.

Mark said that Mike possessed both the physical and techical ability, as well as mental toughness to progress within the sport. “He did well.”

He agreed that recent successes in the sport had increased cycling’s profile.

“More people are interested in it. We’ve got a lot of younger riders coming in,” he said.

“People are telling that so-and-so is getting their old bike out of the shed – and they haven’t been on it for years.”

Mark said that the club organised a range of activities – including races, road rides, mountain biking and a kids’ club – for a wide range of abilities. “There’s something for everybody and there are coaches available within the club.”

Elaine Ward, the secretary of Scarborough Paragon Cycling Club, said there had also been a number of enquiries from potential members in the past few days.

She added that the club received between one and three enquiries every year but there had been two calls so far this week. “You tend to see a surge in interest when this happens,” she said.

Elaine said that the club was planning to organise a number of free events where people who were interested in getting involved could try cycling out for themselves

“I think everybody is so enthused by the Olympic success I am sure we will see more interest. You see people out on their bikes which is good to see – but whether they want to take the next step and join a club we shall see,” she said.

“It has been great and I’ve really enjoyed watching the Olympics. I hope cycling, as a sport that has done well, will see the benefits of that.”

Dan Cook, of the national cycling charity CTC, said they had recently started running activities in Dalby Forest. He said: “Competition success does have an impact but it is too early to say how much of an effect it will be – but the initial level is much more evident.”

And organisers are also hoping the recent successes will rub off and help bring the famous French road race to Yorkshire in 2016.

I has been organised by Welcome to Yorkshire and chief executive Gary Verity said: “A winning combination of our riders’ performance in the Tour de France and the Olympics has not only raised the profile of cycling even further in the county, but swelled support for our bid.

“We have well over 150,000 pledges of support to bring the world’s largest annual sporting event to our great county and the performance of our cyclists at these huge global events couldn’t have come at a better time.”

British rider Mark Cavendish is also backing the bid and said: “It would be fantastic if the world’s greatest cycle race could come to Yorkshire, I’m sure it would host a stunning Grand Départ.”