Sky and British Cycling have announced that they have reached an agreement to extend their partnership for another four years. The British television and communications company has been the principal partner of British Cycling since 2008 and in those four years interest and participation in the sport has increased dramatically. With this new multi-million pound deal running until 2016, the next four years are likely to be just as significant in the development of the sport in the British Isles.
A year after the initial link-up was announced Team Sky was launched, and immediately gained a UCI WorldTour licence for its first year of competition in 2010. Since then the team has married together leading British riders with overseas stars as they attempt to become the first British team to win the Tour de France.
In addition Sky provides support and funding to Great Britain's track stars, such as Sir Chris Hoy and Victoria Pendleton, and the country's MTB and BMX riders as they chase gold medal success in the Olympic cycling events at the London 2012 Games.
Grass roots support also plays a huge part in the partnership between Sky and the national governing body. Between them they are aiming to get one million British people riding bikes at least once a month by the end of 2013 through initiatives like Sky Ride and Go Ride, and with the figure currently standing at close to 700,000 after a period of unprecedented growth, they appear well on target to reach that goal.
"I'm delighted that Sky has committed to working with us for a further four-year period. The unique nature of our partnership with Sky has been a key factor in cycling's phenomenal success story," said Ian Drake, chief executive of British Cycling. "The growth of our sport over the past four years has been amazing."
Drake's thoughts were echoed by the words from Sky chief executive Jeremy Darroch and Sir Chris Hoy, who is one of the professional riders benefitting from the partnership.
"We are proud of the partnership we have with British Cycling and look forward to four more years supporting the sport," Darroch said. "Our aim has always been to increase participation, support the leading riders and inspire the next generation. We know we are making a difference and getting people involved, right across the UK. This is proof that sport can really benefit in the long-term through a partnership with Sky."
Quadruple Olympic gold medallist Hoy said: "We've all seen the difference that Sky can make in cycling. Through events like Sky Ride - opening up cities for families or providing local led rides - they have helped get people back on their bikes. Their work with British Cycling has got more people to understand and enjoy the sport we're all passionate about. And the support for elite riders has helped the current team and will go on to support the next generation."