Cycling world can only look on in awe

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The Independent Online

The rest of the cycling world has watched Britain's domination here with a mixture of envy and admiration. It has been a particularly chilling experience for the Australians, who were the powerhouses in Athens four years ago, winning nine medals on the track (including five golds) and the women's road race. This year they have yet to win a medal.

"The Brits have set the standard as we did four years ago," Shayne Bannan, Australia's team leader, said here yesterday. "What they've done has just been incredible and great to watch. They've really made the other countries sit up and rethink the way that we do things. I've not been surprised at what they've done here. They put a structure in place in 1998 and the progression since then has been a real credit to them."

Bannan believes the British team is the best resourced in the world - their Lottery-fuelled annual budget of £2.6m is more than three times Australia's - but he stressed: "It's not just about the money. Money is a part of it, but it's more about the fantastic environment the British have set up for their athletes.

"I honestly believe that that even if their budget was half that amount, they would still get results because of the people working within their system and the way they're going about it. Their utilisation of resources is first-class. They have state-of-the-art people working for them and a great management system in place.

"I know they have a very good budget, but the way that they manage that money is a big credit to them. They have a base in Manchester that they use as a centre point and the access they have to riders is something that we struggle to have."

Bannan said that success did tend to go in cycles but he did not expect to see any decline in Britain's domination in the near future. "Britain will be in a very good part of that cycle in four years' time and London is obviously a big objective for them," he said.

"We've got plans that we've put in place for London in 2012, but it's going to be a really hard task to catch them up in four years, let's not kid ourselves. Their riders are reasonably young and they have some good depth."