Cycling: Brailsford signs new deal to keep Britain on top

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The Independent Online

Dave Brailsford, the man behind Britain's rise to the top of world cycling, has extended his contract beyond the 2012 Olympics.

Brailsford, 43, has agreed a long-term deal to remain as British Cycling's performance director after a year in which his athletes have won six senior gold medals at world championships. He has also got his wish to establish a professional road-racing team owned and managed by the national federation.

"I am very pleased to commit my future to British Cycling," said Brailsford. "I am very fortunate to have an outstanding team of riders and staff around me. They share my unquenchable desire to achieve excellence and are also people I really enjoy working with. The opportunity to lead the team in a home Olympics is a privilege and one which I relish."

Elsewhere, Italy's Paolo Bettini has been cleared to defend his road race title at the world championships on Sunday after local organisers failed in a court hearing to ban him.

"The city accepts the decision and will take no further legal steps," organisers said. Stuttgart wanted to stop the Italian rider competing because he has not signed the International Cycling Union's (UCI) anti-doping pledge. The city believed it had a deal with the UCI that only riders who had signed the pledge would be allowed to ride.

The UCI said it had no power to make signing the pledge a condition of entry.

"I'm happy with the decision, because it confirms what we always said," UCI president Pat McQuaid told reporters on Friday. "We always said there were no grounds to keep him out."

After the court ruling, Stuttgart mayor Wolfgang Schuster said he accepted there was no legal basis for stopping Bettini riding but said it came down to the "credibility" of cycling.

"The UCI must know what signal they are sending with their start guarantee for Bettini," Schuster said. "It's definitely not the start of a new beginning in cycling."

Bettini, who has clearly stated he has no involvement in doping, has not signed the pledge because he is unhappy with a clause that forces any rider given a doping ban of two years to pay a year's salary over and above the standard fine.