Former York schoolboy leading Garmin-Sharp on county return

Marcel Kittel and his Team Giant-Shimano colleagues ride Stage 2 of the 2014 Tour De France route, Jenkin Road, Sheffield.
Marcel Kittel and his Team Giant-Shimano colleagues ride Stage 2 of the 2014 Tour De France route, Jenkin Road, Sheffield.
0
Have your say

For sports director Charly Wegelius, the return to Yorkshire is both treacherous and surreal.

Garmin-Sharp boss Wegelius was born in Finland and now works for the American team, but in between times he was educated in York.

Wegelius – whose father Christopher is Finland’s most successful showjumper – attended Bootham School in York between 1989 and 1994.

It was there that he learned to cycle, and there where he returns on Sunday as his American team, led by general classification contender Andrew Talansky, bid to challenge in cycling’s Tour de France.

“I used to cycle to school in York, back when cycling was a sport for eccentrics,” said Wegelius, who rode the Tour de France twice, the first time in 2007 the last time the Grand Depart was in Britain.

“Now it’s become a really mainstream sport and it’s only going to benefit from that further this weekend.

“It’s going to be surreal watching the Tour de France on the first part of the route in York where I used to cycle to school.”

Wegelius has also weighed in on the debate over the dangerous nature of the roads in Yorkshire, with some riders having expressed concerns during reconnaissance rides that they are too narrow.

Marcel Kittel, the German sprinter, was the first to make the observation during his team Giant Shimano’s three-day excursion to Yorkshire back in April.

Wegelius dismissed any such concerns, stating difficult roads are part and parcel of the Tour experience.

The 36-year-old said: “A lot of people are going to have to squeeze by but somebody is going to win three stages of the Tour de France by the time we leave the UK, and that’s not to be dismissed.

“I think there is a lot of comparisons you could draw between the start in Yorkshire and the first stages in Corsica last year – similar kinds of roads, hard stages and lots of potential traps sitting behind every corner.

“As every race situation unfolds for some people that can be a risk, something to be afraid of, and for others it can turn into an opportunity.

“You don’t know often which side of that coin you’re going to be on until things happen.”