Feature: Where are GB’s Cycling Heroes From?


Scott Taylor looks at where Great Britain’s Olympic hero’s are from here in the UK and around the world

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Feature: Where are GB’s Cycling Heroes From?

With cycling taking credit for nearly 30% of the gold medal haul at the London 2012 Olympics and British cyclists pushing the country up the medals table in Rio, it would be fair to say that cycling is the crown jewel in this team of Great British athletes.

But it’s no accident that Team GB circle around what the rest of the world has to offer. This success is the result of a thriving UK cycling industry and world class coaches having access to talent as good as anywhere in the world.

So no doubt, as you watched the success in the velodrome unfold, you will often find yourself wondering just where did this cycling talent come from?

I mean, it’s easy to pick out the accents of Scotsman Sir Chris Hoy and most of us will know that Bradley Wiggins was born in Belgium, but what about the rest? What about the young guns who burst onto the cycling scene year after year? And which cities keep churning out these world class cycling talents?

With the help of data experts Hopewiser, we’ve put our data crunching helmets on and gone through the birth certificates to find out. The results are interesting…

Rio 2016 – A Home Nation Breakdown
While England, which makes up 84% of the UK population, unsurprisingly dominates the home nation breakdown, it’s Wales who put forward a disproportionate number of cyclists in relation to their population.

Making up 4% of the UK population, the four cyclists (Barker, Thomas, Doull and James) put forward to Team GB make Wales, statistically, the cycling nation of the UK in this Olympics.

What’s also interesting is the three members of Team GB’s cycling team who were born outside of the UK. You’ll probably be aware of Sir Bradley Wiggins, but did you know Philip Hindes (birthplace Krefeld, Germany) and Chris Froome (birthplace Nairobi, Kenya) were also born outside of the UK?


Rio 2016 – A County by County Breakdown

So how does the home nation data compare when played out on a county by county level across the UK? Spread across the length and breadth of the country it’s the two northern counties in Lancashire and Yorkshire who dominate the cycling putting forward seven of the athletes.

Surprisingly it’s Lancashire, with the likes of Jason Kelly, Steven Burke, Adam Yates and Kyle Evans, who put forward the biggest number of athletes. We also see three athletes from the South of Wales in the likes of Geraint Thomas, Elinor Bark and Owain Doull and two born in London in Nikki Harris and Joanna Rowsell.

Lancashire – 4
Yorkshire – 3
Glamorgan – 3
Greater London – 2

London 2012 – A Home Nation Breakdown

What’s immediately clear at the London 2012 Olympics is that once again England dominate the numbers when putting forward British cyclists.

What is surprising, is that over 15% of the British cyclists that attended London 2012 were born outside of the UK. Champions like Philip Hindes, Chris Froome and Bradley Wiggins in particular stand out as a few of the names all born outside of the UK but also David Millar from Malta was born outside of the UK.


London 2012 – A County by County Breakdown

Once again the dominating county is Lancashire who put forward a total of three athletes to London 2012. The difference with London 2012 is that compared to Rio 2016, we also see a much more even contribution across the counties with Yorkshire in the North (Clancy, Armistead), Somerset in the South (Phillips), Glamorgan is the West (Thomas, Cooke) and Essex in the East (Stannard, Trott) all putting forward at least one cyclist.


Beijing 2008 – A Home Nation Breakdown

With at least one of Team GB’s cyclists coming from each of home nations it could be said that the success of the Beijing 2008 Cycling team was one delivered from every corner of Great Britain. Again, while England does dominate with 18 of cyclists, it’s the three athletes born outside of the UK (Wiggins, Laws, Bellis) which were the real surprise when researching this data.


Beijing 2008 – A County by County Breakdown

Again, just as we saw in the Rio 2016 dataset, it’s the two northern counties of Lancashire and Yorkshire who put forward the biggest number of athletes. The young guns in Jason Kelly, Steven Burke and Paul Manning for Lancashire and Ed Clancy, Chris Newton and Ben Swift for Yorkshire making up the bulk of Team GB’s cyclists.





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