Pursuit to publish first history of controversial cycling organisation

Pursuit to publish first history of controversial cycling organisation

Profile Books' cycling imprint Pursuit is to publish The Medal Factory, the first history of the controversial British Cycling organisation, which is the main national governing body for cycle sport in Great Britain.

The publisher acquired UK and Commonwealth rights (excluding Canada) from David Luxton at David Luxton Associates.

According to the publisher, The Medal Factory will "for the first time, tell the story of the organisation’s journey from small, amateurish body to dominant Olympic track superpower. It will also examine the current crisis and tell the inside stories of the riders, staff and coaches involved".

In 1984, British Cycling was "under funded, under resourced and under achieving". This book reveals how sports scientist Peter Keen and rider Chris Boardman "transformed British cycling’s fortunes" by winning gold at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics using "radical" coaching methods. That gold medal was the starting point of a UK "cycling revolution" that would eventually lead to the first-ever British winner of the Tour de France and the historic multiple triumphs of the 2012 London Olympic Games.

Experienced cycling journalist Kenny Pryde will reveal to what extent Keen and Boardman, followed by Dave Brailsford, Shane Sutton and Dr Steve Peters created a new blueprint for performance. Full of exclusive interviews with the people that made this "revolution" happen, The Medal Factory shows for the first time how a niche sport was transformed into a mainstream media headline generator. It will also contain a "balanced investigation" into the roots of today's allegations of sexism, bullying and poor governance and what this means for the future of British Cycling and publically-funded sport.

In recent times, the organisation has faced accusations of bullying, with cyclist Jess Varnish demanding the resignation of the entire British Cycling board over a "sexism and bullying cover up". The Guardian also reported this week that senior figures at funding body UK Sport told its in-house governance unit to “go easy” on British Cycling because “that’s where the medals come from”, more than two years before Varnish made public allegations of bullying and sexism.

Pryde said: "It’s a story that starts in a pre-Lottery, pre-digital era that I’ve felt needed to be told. So many of the key characters and events in those early years have gone unrecorded and they have a huge bearing on the organisation the general public now knows as the Medal Factory. The transition from obscure hobby to mainstream, publicly-funded, multi-million pound sport is full of surprises and helps explain its current crisis. I’m really pleased to find that the team at Pursuit are as enthusiastic as me about the book."

Pryde has been a cycling journalist since 1987. He was a staff writer at Cycling Weekly, and editor-at-large of Cycle Sport. He was also editor of mbr and SuperBike magazines and has written for the Guardian, Ride, VeloNews, the Herald, the Scotsman and the Irish Independent.

Spackman, publisher of pursuit, said: "Having covered UK cycling with integrity and insight for many years, Kenny Pryde is the perfect man to tell this story. The Medal Factory will have significance far beyond cycling, analysing how "world class performance" is achieved, and at what cost."  

The Medal Factory will be published in Spring 2018.