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'Wiggins' Tour win is just the start for GB cycling'
CYCLING supremo Brian Cookson has hailed Bradley Wiggins’ “phenomenal achievement” and believes his historic Tour de France success could be the start of a dream few weeks for the sport.
The president of British cycling, who is also Pendle Council’s executive director for regeneration, was in Paris yesterday to see Wiggins become the first Briton to ever win the Tour – admitting he can’t believe how far the sport has come.
Just six years ago, Cookson raised eyebrows when he predicted a Brit could win the gruelling circa 2,000-mile race within 25 years and yesterday he was on the Champs-Elysees seeing that come true in dramatic style.
Wiggins, who lives in Eccleston near Chorley and regularly trains in East Lancashire, dominated the race from start to finish to claim victory by three minutes 21 seconds ahead of fellow Brit Chris Froome.
Cookson said: “It is funny that when I said about there being a British winner of the Tour within 25 years, people looked at me as though I was mad.
“Six years on we have two cyclists up there and one winning.
“It is an absolutely fantastic achievement by Bradley Wiggins and hopefully it is just the start of an incredible few weeks for British cycling.
“You can’t underestimate the effort of the team over the past few weeks. It is something that has been years in preparation and has now come to fruition. It is a historic for road cycling in Britain.”
Cookson, from Whalley, played an integral role in turning the fortunes of British cycling around.
He first became involved in the administration of the sport in the 1980s and has been president of British Cycling since 1997, after becoming a member of an emergency committee to rescue it from insolvency in 1996.
Since the sport’s dark days, Cookson has overseen a dramatic rise from the ashes – including a haul of medals at the Beijing Olympics in 2008 – and is hoping for further success at London 2012.
“It is the dream scenario really,” said Cookson. “Being here to watch Bradley win was fantastic and then it is off to the Olympics, where we have high hopes of doing well. I think the sport can be very proud of its achievements over the past few years.”