London - British Cycling's partnership with broadcaster Sky will end in 2016
after eight extraordinary years which led to a golden run of Olympic success,
two Tour de France champions and put a cynical public back on two wheels.
The split, confirmed on Wednesday, will have no impact on pro cycling outfit
Team Sky, which hopes to be celebrating another Tour win for Briton Chris
Froome in Paris later this month.
"British Cycling and Sky will remain firm friends and part with great
mutual affection, having achieved amazing things together," British
Cycling chief executive Ian Drake said in a statement.
"The last 10 years have been brilliant for our sport - our membership
and participation in cycle sport continues to grow, we've encouraged over 1.7
million people to cycle regularly with even more starting all the time and we
are seeing the emergence of a new generation of cycling heroes."
Sky's sponsorship of British Cycling began just before the Beijing Olympics
in 2008 and was renewed in 2012 for a further four years amid a surge in
popularity for the sport.
Team Sky has become one of the heavyweights of world cycling with its budget
and infrastructure the envy of many, yet when it began as Sky ProCycling in
2009 and team principal Dave Brailsford promised a first British Tour de France
champion, few believed it would actually happen.
The doubters were quickly silenced when Bradley Wiggins wore the yellow
jersey through to Paris in 2012 and Froome followed a year later.
At the 2012 London Olympics, Britain dominated in the velodrome and on the
road, winning eight cycling golds, two silvers and two bronzes.
However, it is the impact of British Cycling's relationship with the
broadcaster on recreational and club cycling that has proved most spectacular.
According to British Cycling, 1.7 million more people than in 2008 are now
cycling regularly, while 1.2 million have taken part in mass participation
events called Sky Rides, Sky Ride Locals or Breeze rides since 2009.
Membership of British Cycling has expanded from 21 000 in January 2008 to
more than 111 000 in June 2015 and 2,034 clubs are now affiliated to the
national governing body.
"The partnership with Sky since 2008 is an important part of that
story. Sky gave British Cycling the platform from which to communicate the best
of the sport and, through British Cycling, Sky has delivered lasting and
positive change," Drake added.
Sky said it would help the governing body find a new partner from 2017 and
would continue to run Team Sky.