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  1. ITV Report

Wiggins can win at Rio

Ian Drake says Bradley Wiggins can medal at Rio Photo: PA Images

British Cycling's chief has backed Sir Bradley Wiggins to join the elite trio of British sportsmen who have won medals at five consecutive Olympics.

Only sailor Sir Ben Ainslie and rowers Sir Steve Redgrave and Jack Beresford have managed that feat in the past but British Cycling's chief executive Ian Drake has no doubts that Wiggins can end his career on a high at the Rio 2016 Games.

Wiggins, 34, won victory in the men's world time trial last month and has said he will now focus on preparing for Rio.

Drake, speaking at the announcement that British Cycling has passed the milestone of 100,000 members, told the Press Association: "Brad coming back for the Commonwealth Games was fantastic and to have someone like him and really demonstrating his commitment to the Olympic programme is a fantastic boost for cycling and the whole of Team GB.

"Think back to his first medal in Sydney in 2000 and his career has just been phenomenal. He has won medals at every Olympics since and I'm sure he will be completely prepared for Rio.

"Athletes like him are providing real role models for young British cyclists.

"When you look back at London it was a terrific boost for whole of Team GB when he won the Tour de France beforehand - it felt like Team GB's first medal of the Games."

The success of Wiggins, plus that of other British Olympic cycling champions such as Sir Chris Hoy, Victoria Pendleton and Laura Trott, has helped a huge surge in membership of the sport, said Drake.

British Cycling had 15,000 members in 2005 - a similar number to its average for the previous 50 years - but has seen huge growth at the rate of 3,000 new members a month to the point where it has passed 100,000.

Drake added: "We took a real decision around the Beijing 2008 Olympics using our elite success at major events to get more people involved in cycling but critically to grow the membership.

"We want to make Britain truly a cycling nation. Our membership is as big as some of the main political parties so cycling really does have a voice."

Wiggins himself said: "I have been a member of British Cycling since I was a teenager. It is incredible how cycling has evolved as a sport in the years since I saw Chris Boardman win gold in Barcelona in 1992.

"Back in those days it felt as if I was the only person on a bike. Today cycling is mainstream and it's great to see."

British Cycling now has 15,500 female members, double the number it had in 2012, and Drake says the success of women riders is another key part of inspiring the next generation.

He said: "The impact that someone such as Laura Trott has had on participation of women and girls is remarkable and the sport is really starting to see that at grassroots level with people coming to try to emulate their heroes."