Golden boy Ed will be happy with cheers for souvenirs

Paul Manning, Ed Clancy, Geraint Thomas and Bradley Wiggins with their Gold Medals after winning the Men's Team Pursuit at the Track Cycling Course at the Laoshan Velodrome during the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games in China.
Paul Manning, Ed Clancy, Geraint Thomas and Bradley Wiggins with their Gold Medals after winning the Men's Team Pursuit at the Track Cycling Course at the Laoshan Velodrome during the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games in China.
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On Sunday, July 6, Yorkshire’s most decorated Olympic cyclist will join us mere mortals by becoming a fan for the day.

Even then Ed Clancy admits, with his shock of ginger hair covered up, that he might still be easy to locate at the bottom of Holme Moss, no matter how much he tries to melt into the crowd.

“I’ll have my Swifty bandana on and my Geraint flag out!” laughs Clancy, in reference to his fellow British Cycling stars Ben Swift and Geraint Thomas.

That duo will be hoping for a coveted place among the nine riders that comprise the all-powerful Team Sky outfit for this year’s Tour de France.

Clancy, one of Britain’s finest track cyclists, can only look on with envy.

For no matter how great his prowess in the velodrome – to which two Olympic titles, four world crowns and four European gold medals comfortably attest – road racing has never been his strong suit.

That is by no means to downplay his ability, for the 29-year-old is an accomplished road racer to the standard of the British road race and criterium series.

To that end, he will spend much of the spring and summer riding across the country, contesting races like the Otley Grand Prix which this year takes place just three days before the Tour de France begins down the road in Leeds.

But when it comes to the standard of a grand tour peloton, where his old British Cycling alumni Sir Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish are masters of the art, Clancy can only bow to their superiority and is happy to take his place among the rank and file.

“The Tour de France coming to Yorkshire is unreal,” he says.

“It’s a long old way they have to ride each day. I love being on my bike – but I don’t think I’d be able to manage it.”

So Clancy will take up a position on that second day at the bottom of Holme Moss, because as well as being one of the most hard-working, and talented riders of his generation, he is also blessed with a house right on the very route of the Tour de France.

“The house I live in is pretty much at the bottom of the Holme Moss climb, so I can’t avoid the route when I go out for a ride,” says Clancy.

“And this place is going to be absolutely rammed come July 6.

“I’m really looking forward to it, although it will be weird seeing this massive bike race that I’m not part of.

“I’ll have a few mates riding up the hill so I’ll go out and give them a cheer.”

Clancy goes back a long way with the likes of Cavendish and Wiggins.

The first honour of the Barnsley-born track star’s career came alongside his old flatmate Cavendish in the British madison championships in 2004. Four years later he won gold in the same team pursuit squad as Wiggins at the Beijing Olympics.

He is still close with both, and happy to buy into the emotive storyline of this year’s first stage, that Cavendish will sprint to victory in Harrogate, the town where his mother was born.

“That first stage will come down to a sprint and I’d still put my mortgage on Cav,” says Clancy of a sprinter who has been reeled in, and in some instances, overtaken by a new group of fast finishers including Marcel Kittel and Peter Sagan since his all-conquering form of 2011.

“Andre Greipel is in fine form at the minute and there’s some good young sprinters coming through.

“But I’m a big Cavendish fan so I’ll always put my money on him.”

As for the second stage, the one he will be keeping a close eye on, Clancy is expecting excitement.

With Holme Moss the headline act in a closing section that could stretch the peloton, the Yorkshireman subscribes to the widespread theory that the 101st Tour de France will not be won on that second stage from York to Sheffield, but it could well be lost.

“I think it’s going to be a lot harder than people give it credit for,” says Clancy.

“I’ve been in plenty of professional pelotons but not a stage race like that, so I’m not 100 per cent how they’ll approach the stage.

“There’ll be a leader established after day one, but you’d think a pro team would be able to hold a bunch together over a stage like that, but it could be touch and go.

“There are some nasty little climbs and the wind will play a big part because it’s very exposed up on the tops so you could get some cross-wind carnage. If it’s a nice day they could potentially stay together, or even just break up into smaller groups.

“Whilst the bunch might splinter into smaller pieces, the stage is never going to decide the race. All the main contenders should comfortably stay together over the hills.

“There’s enough respite between the hills for the teams to bring it back together for the team leaders if needs be, so it’ll be really interesting.”

And Clancy will be there to cheer on the greatest peloton in the world; Yorkshire’s most successful living cyclist sharing common ground with the rest of us.