Great Britain wants to have a team of its own in the Tour de France in 2010, and wants to win the race by 2015. Following up on the British success in the Olympic track events, British Cycling president Brian Cookson said a road team is his next objective.
"It's not a done deal yet, but we want a fully professional team by 2010 competing at the highest level, he told the BBC. "I've said before we'd have a Tour winner within 25 years, now I say 10 and we'll have a contender in five.
"We are ranked the number one nation in cycling because of all the Olympic success but we will never be truly number one until we have cracked road racing as well," Cookson continued, noting, "There is a real will to get this off the ground."
The current economic situation could make things more difficult, he admitted. "Although we are in troubled times and it may not be as easy as it would have been a year ago, on the back of the Olympic success I think we have a good chance of pulling this off."
Another difficulty might lie in signing riders. The best current British rider is Mark Cavendish, who races for Team Columbia. "It's complex because people like Mark are already performing at the very highest level and are under contract with existing teams," Cookson said. "Until we have a team we don't know what we can offer him. But the main thing is we want a structure where talented road cyclists can compete in the highest level tours and the most difficult road races."