Belfast Telegraph

Monday 24 November 2014

'Yorkshire grit secured Tour stage'

Yorkshireman Brian Robinson, 81, was the first Briton to win a stage of the Tour de France
Yorkshireman Brian Robinson, 81, was the first Briton to win a stage of the Tour de France

Two former Tour de France cyclists have said "Yorkshire people, grit and water" were behind the county's successful bid to host the opening stages of the world's most famous cycling race.

Brian Robinson, the first Briton to win a stage of the Tour de France, and Malcolm Elliott, the first British rider to win a points jersey in one of cycling's Grand Tour races, backed Yorkshire's bid to host the race.

The former cyclists, both from Yorkshire, said they never dreamed the Tour de France would be held in their home county in their lifetimes. But they said the county had key attributes which led it to win the bid above those by Edinburgh and Florence.

When asked why the county had secured the race, Elliott said: "Yorkshire people." Mr Robinson, 81, added: "Yorkshire grit, Yorkshire water." Elliott said: "I think the Tour organisation came over and they discovered what Yorkshire has.

"It's a beautiful county, it's steeped in history, there's some stunning scenery and it's a great backdrop for the world's finest bike race to come and show itself. To show itself and for Yorkshire to show itself.

"It's something you never dreamed of in my early days to get it to come to Yorkshire."

Elliott, 51, added: "It's a huge coup for a county like Yorkshire to have landed the Tour and it's been a couple of years of hard work behind the scenes to make it happen. It just seemed far beyond the realms of possibility but now here we are, it's coming and Yorkshire is looking forward to it and we're going to embrace it."

Elliott said that hosting a stage of a race on the scale of the Tour de France would benefit the UK as a whole and inspire thousands of children to take up the sport.

He added: "In terms of sport, this comes after winning the Tour this year and the Olympic successes. I believe it's going to lift us on to another plane and where we go from there is anyone's guess, but things couldn't be better as we stand now," he said.

Robinson won a stage of the race in 1958 and 1959. He said he would have taken part in the Yorkshire stage of the Tour if it had happened 60 years ago but was now happy to support the younger riders.

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