CYCLING BOOM

Cycling in Britain is enjoying somewhat of a renaissance with booming membership figures, according to British Cycling.

There are currently more than 23,000 British Cycling members, its highest recorded figure for 40 years. With a year on year growth of 11%, it seems that cycling is once again entering the mainstream, and is being regarded not only as a viable method of transport but is also being widely used for leisure.

As to the reasons for the recent surge in the popularity of cycling, British Cycling membership director Jonny Clay stated that, ?several factors have come together to help cycling grow recently: the British Cycling team is enjoying unprecedented levels of success, we have a healthy programme of races and events at all levels and cycling in general is enjoying a high profile?.

BIKEHUT RIDERS JOIN TEAM GB

Team Halfords Bikehut riders Wendy Houvenaghel and Nicole Cooke joined Team GB at the Celtic Manor in Newport to make their final preparations before the team flies out to Beijing.

Arriving last Wednesday (July 23), the riders will be participating in a gruelling ten-day training camp lasting until Friday, August 1.

During the week, Sharon Laws and Emma Pooley along with Halfords Bikehut rider Jessica Allen, rode a ten-mile time trial near Abergavenny. Despite not entering any riders in the women?s time trial event at the Olympics, Laws? time of 22 minutes after a day of hard training and an hour spent in a heat chamber (to acclimatise to Beijing conditions), shows that she is recovering well for the Olympic road race after a crash sustained earlier in the year.

Meanwhile, with less than two weeks remaining until the start of the Olympics, the Great Britain Cycling team was apparently still in desperate need of another mechanic to help out. Step forward John Morton from the Widnes Halfords Bikehut store at the Manchester velodrome.

LONDON GP TO SUPPORT TOUR OF BRITAIN

The London Grand Prix is set to support the opening stage of the Tour of Britain once again this year, based in the heart of the city.

As part of the Elite Circuit Race Series, the event will provide the curtain raiser for the main event on the same circuit: the first stage of the Tour of Britain.

The event returns to central London this year, after being held last year in Crystal Palace ahead of the prologue.

Last year?s race was won by Pinarello RT rider, Malcolm Elliott, who won the same event in 2006 on The Mall, this time ahead of the final stage of the British tour.

Due to start at 10.30, with the main race beginning at 13.30, more details about the race and how to enter can be found at: www.britishcycling.org.uk

TOUR DE HACKNEY

As part of this year?s Shoreditch Festival, comes the inaugural Tour de Hackney.

Taking place on Sunday August 17 and funded by Hackney Council and Shoreditch Trust, there will be rides available to suit beginners and more experienced riders alike.

The Festival (running from August 16 to 24) aims to promote sports and arts, with the Tour de Hackney being the principal event.

With the aim of advertising the health benefits and green credentials of cycling, the route will guide riders through historic Hackney and on past the Olympic Park site.

Commenting on the event, Hackney Mayor Jules Pipe said, ?this will really put Hackney on the cycling map. It?s fun, good for the environment and a great way to keep fit.?

With a variety of activities on offer ranging from a bike polo tournament, to a unicycle hockey competition, cycle safety courses and bar and food stalls, it looks set to be an enjoyable day for all.

THOMAS AND CLANCY TO SALFORD

The organisers of the inaugural Salford Nocturne have scored a real coup in ensuring a star-studded field.

Chris Hoy has already been confirmed for the roller race event, but British Team Pursuit World record holders, Geraint Thomas and Ed Clancy, are also set to make an appearance, albeit in the elite criterium race.

Thomas, who won this year?s criterium at the Smithfield Nocturne said. ?the Smithfield Nocturne was a good event. I came to race for a bit of fun and didn?t expect to win but (I) really enjoyed it. It?s not often I get to race criterium events so I?m looking forward to the next Nocturne in Salford?.

The Nocturne will be the first event for Thomas and Clancy after the Beijing Olympics. ?This is going to be a level up? said Thomas, ?and I am really looking forward to it. I have ridden three World championships, numerous World track Cups and the Tour de France (at 21) as well so this does not phase me?.

Regardless of whether Thomas and Clancy return to Salford as Olympic heroes, there are sure to receive a welcome befitting of one.

OLYMPIC PREPARATIONS

Roger Hammond (Team Columbia) and Steve Cummings (Barloworld) are putting the finishing touches to their Olympic preparations by riding the Tour of Denmark, which started on Wednesday.

The five-day stage race finishes on Sunday and has been dominated by the Danish CSC team for the past four years.

Past winners:

2007 Kurt Asle Arvesen (Team CSC)

2006 Fabian Cancellara (Team CSC)

2005 Ivan Basso (Team CSC)

2004 Kurt Asle Arvesen (Team CSC)

Meanwhile, Charly Wegelius (Liquigas) and Chris Froome (Barloworld) will ride in the single day GP Nobili Rubinetterie on Saturday, although neither rider will be featuring in this year?s Games.

BRITISH CRIT CHAMPIONSHIPS

Britain?s national elite criterium championships will take place this Friday, forming part of the weekend also featuring the East Yorkshire Classic Premier Calendar race on Sunday.

Defending champion James McCallum (Plowman Craven) will be riding and competing against 69 other riders who will all be aiming to steal his crown.