Halfords Bikehut has been revealed as the naming rights sponsor of the new British womens' professional team to be led by national champion Nicole Cooke. Cyclingnews' UK Editor Ben Atkins was at the team's presentation at London Zoo on Wednesday, January 9, 2008.
Introduced by Dave Brailsford, British Cycling's Performance Director, who is taking on the role of general manager, the rationale behind the new British women's team was laid out. The major force behind British Cycling's performance philosophy is the winning of Olympic medals; in Brailsford's words, "Our job is to convert opportunities into medals". The reason behind the team is to give Nicole Cooke - Britain's greatest woman cyclist - the best chance possible of winning Gold in Beijing, and beyond that give the best possible chance to Cooke - or any emerging talent - a similar opportunity to claim Gold on home soil at the London Olympic Games in 2012.
Brailsford began by highlighting the success of British Cycling since the Performance Plan began receiving funding form the United Kingdom national lottery. Before this funding, Great Britain had only ever won one Gold - that of Chris Boardman in 1992 - and that was achieved almost single-handedly. Since funding has been available, the GB team has won eight medals; a haul that he referred to as 'okay'. Approaching the Beijing Olympic Games, the GB team, Brailsford says, should be competitive in 13 of the 18 events, by London that number will hopefully be up to at least 16.
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