AFTER watching the Tour of Britain pass through roads he has spent his life riding on, the sport’s supremo Brian Cookson vowed to do his best to ‘restore the integrity and reputation’ of cycling, writes Tyrone Marshall.

There seemed little wrong with the sport as thousands lined the route of stage two between Clitheroe and Colne under bright blue skies on Monday.


But Cookson, a former Whalley resident and director of Pendle Council, knows he still faces a battle to convince fans the dark old days of doping are in the past.

Since being voted in as president of the International Cycling Union (UCI) in 2013, Cookson has continually vowed to clean up the sport he loves in the wake of numerous doping scandals.

Seeing the likes of Mark Cavendish and Sir Bradley Wiggins racing on roads so familiar to him was a proud moment for Cookson, who was in Colne to watch the stage finish, but he accepts there is still work to do, despite a memorable day under the sun in East Lancashire.

“To see this race with a Tour de France winner and Olympic champions taking part, and Mark Cavendish, a multiple Tour de France stage winner and world champion, is special,” said Cookson, who played a key role behind the scenes during British Cycling’s meteoric rise.

“Ten years ago I said it would happen and people laughed. I’m very happy to be part of the success.

“Lots and lots of people have contributed to where we are now as a sport, now as president of the UCI I’m trying to do my best to restore the integrity and reputation and help our sport develop around the world.”

Doping in cycling was back in the news during this year’s Tour de France, with Team Sky’s Chris Froome facing daily suspicion from French crowds and TV pundits, and he promised to release more data to prove he was clean.

“We’re not the only sport that has had a problem with doping,” said Cookson.

“We are absolutely determined to be leaders in the fight against doping and the need to protect the athletes. That to me is not just a matter of morality, it’s also a matter of economics. People want to invest in the sport and they don’t want a sport full of scandals.

“Equally if people have a young family and they want a sport to be involved in and their children have got the talent and the ability then they can go all the way to the top without having to lie, or cheat or do things that might damage their health and without having to spend the rest of their lives looking over their shoulder.

“That’s our job and I’m determined we’ll do it as well as we can.”

Despite those battles cycling remains in rude health in the UK, and days such as Monday show the appetite for the sport in this country is continuing to grow.