20/03/2015 10:39 GMT | Updated 20/05/2015 06:59 BST

For the Love of Cycling

We've had a really strong start to the season and although it's still early in the racing calendar, there is one thing I know already - Team Sky is just that. A team. A team with real hunger and desire to win.

In between races and race planning, I was really glad to find time to go to the opening of the Derby Arena. It meant a lot to me personally that Derby is the location for our fifth UK velodrome. The arena is situated next to Derby County's iPro Stadium making Pride Park a great sporting venue for the city. I live not far from there and since childhood have had a soft spot for Derby County Football Club. So it was great to watch the first cyclists try out my new local track. And as I joined over 1,500 people cheering them on, it seemed a good time to reflect on how far cycling has come in the last ten years.

When I was growing up, being fanatical about cycling was seen as something of an eccentricity. Now millions have the bug and I think we are a better country for it.

Whether track or road, the appreciation of the sport is now at an all-time high, and I am very proud of the role that British Cycling, Sky and Team Sky have played in that. The massive crowds at the Grand Depart last year not only showed off the best of Yorkshire to the world, but were proof that the UK is now a true cycling nation.

But more important than just supporting the professional sport, people are trying it out for themselves. In their millions. That is good for our economy and good for our health.

In 2010, alongside Sky, we said that our aim was to help inspire a million more people to take up cycling. At that time, it was a bold ambition to say the least. But I have always believed in big bold ambitions for this great sport.

Inspired by the London 2012 medal haul, the British wins at the Tour de France and seven years of Sky Rides, this ambition has been fulfilled with over 1.5million Brits regularly getting on their bikes. And this week, the dates and locations for this year's Sky Rides have been announced with events planned in 15 locations from Plymouth to Newcastle.

People are doing it for the thrill of the ride. From the children who will try out the new track at Derby in the coming months, through to the tens of thousands who will take part in the Sky Rides across the country. And among them, without a doubt, the Olympians and Tour de France riders of the future.

For our part, Team Sky will continue to showcase the sport and play a leadership role. Inspiration works both ways. As a team we continue to be touched by the support and passion we witness as we race all across the world. And if watching Ian Stannard's stellar performance on the cobbles in Belgium or Richie Porte's classy win in Paris-Nice makes youngsters take to the road, or the new velodrome in Derby, then we will have achieved more for the sport we love than we thought possible.

Sir Dave Brailsford is the team principal of Team Sky