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  1. ITV Report

Why has this been the most successful summer for British cycling?

Sir Chris Hoy celebrates winning the Men's Keirin final on day eleven of the Olympic Games Photo: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire.

British cyclists have been in winning form this summer from the Bradley Wiggins' Tour de France victory to Sir Chris Hoy winning his sixth Olympic gold medal in the Men's Keirin final.

So far, Great Britain have claimed eight cycling gold medals at London 2012:

  • Bradley Wiggins - Men's Individual Time Trial
  • Jason Kenny - Men's Sprint
  • Sir Chris Hoy, Jason Kenny, Philip Hindes - Men's Team Sprint
  • Sir Chris Hoy - Men's Keirin
  • Steven Burke, Ed Clancy, Geraint Thomas, Peter Kennaugh - Men's Team Pursuit Sprint
  • Victoria Pendleton - Women's Keirin
  • Dani King, Joanna Rowsell, Laura Trott - Women's Team Pursuit.
  • Laura Trott - Omnium
Laura Trott celebrates with her Gold medal after winning the Women's Omnium Credit: EMPICS Sport/EMPICS Sport

In recent years Team GB cyclists have consistently outshone other nations, with multiple gold medalists Sir Chris Hoy, Bradley Wiggins and Victoria Pendleton becoming household names as well as being impressive ambassadors for the sport.

So what is the secret to this success?

The talent

The British cycling team have spend the last four years training hard for the Olympics Games and their preparations and dedication has now paid dividends.

Sir Chris Hoy has said the team's success is down to having "so many talented athletes in the team".

Attention to detail

British Cycling president Brian Cookson said he believes the Brit's success on two wheels was down to attention to detail.

Attention to detail is what makes us different.

It's down to the right people surrounding the most talented athletes who pay that attention to detail in every aspect of their performance and development.

Manchester Velodrome

He added that the state-of-the-art Manchester Velodrome, where the British team is based, had been "absolutely critical" to their success.

He said: "We have worldclass resources which have been a massive boost to us.

"Other countries are now trying to emulate the fantastic set-up we've got."

British Cycling branding displayed at the Manchester Velodrome Credit: John Walton/EMPICS Sport

Funding

Elite cycling is primarily funded by UK Sport, and its investment for the 2009 to 2013 funding cycle is £26,390,300.

Mr Cookson also said that National Lottery funding the team has received has also been really useful.

Equipment

The British team has been doing so well that there have even been claims from rivals that "magic wheels" have been helping the Brits to win.

But Chris Boardman, head of British Cycling's research and development group known as the Secret Squirrel Club, described the wheels as "the least technologically advanced piece of equipment that there is".

We used those wheels in Athens. They are the same wheels. They're round and they're made of carbon fibre.

"It's the least technologically advanced piece of equipment that there is.

It hasn't changed since '96 when (manufacturer) Mavic introduced the five-spoke wheel, it's still the standard now."

Victoria Pendleton rides in sprint qualifying round at the at the Velodrome in the Olympic Park Credit: Tim Ireland/PA Wire

Wind Tunnels

Part of Team GB's success is also thought to be down to the time the cyclists spend practising in wind tunnels, something many other countries do not do.

Mr Boardman said the likes of Sir Chris and Pendleton have spent up to eight hours a day in the tunnels to improve their aerodynamics.

He said: "Aerodynamics is a massive part of our sport.

"They're doing 50 to 70kph depending on the event, so why aren't wind tunnels a standard component in training? It's ridiculous."

The Cycling coach

British Cycling performance director Dave Brailsford Credit: PA

British Cycling performance director Dave Brailsford has been hailed as the man whose leadership is partly responsible for the success of the British cyclists at both this year's Tour de France and the Games.

He arrived on the coaching scene just after the Sydney Olympics in 2000, and since then British cycling achievements have been on the up.

  • Athens 2004: 4 medals, 2 golds, 1 silver and 1 bronze
  • Beijing 2008: 14 medals including eight golds
  • 2011 World Championship: Mark Cavendish becomes first British road-race winner since 1965
  • 2012 Tour de France: Under Dave Brailsford's leadership at Team Sky, Bradley Wiggins becomes first Briton to win, his team-mate Christopher Froome came second, and Mark Cavendish won the final stage of the race for the fourth year running.
  • London 2012: 12 medals so far, including eight golds

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