Brian Robinson, 84, arrived at the opening at the Rendezvous Hotel in Skipton with a group of cycling friends after a 20-mile ride.
The first Briton to finish the Tour de France in 1955 and the first three years later to win a stage, shot back into public consciousness decades into retirement from the sport, becoming a figurehead for Welcome to Yorkshire’s staging of the Grand Départ last year. He was back in the saddle six weeks after being knocked off his bike by a car driver last year, fracturing his collarbone, ribs and puncturing a lung.
Mr Robinson, two of whose grandchildren race, said: “It is fantastic really, they have done a great job. “It is something I never expected I’ve had two careers since then. It was what I wanted to do as a young man and I did it, then settled down, to marriage, business and retirement - it has all been pretty good.”
Chief executive Sir Gary Verity, who opened the photo gallery in the hotel’s bar lounge, said: “Brian is one of cycling’s trailblazers who helped to make the sport what it is today, and he was a great ambassador for the county’s hosting of the grandest ever Grand Départ of the Tour de France, as well as the inaugural Tour de Yorkshire.
“Not only is Brian an inspiration to many budding cyclists but he is one of the nicest people you could ever wish to meet and I am extremely pleased to see him getting the recognition that he deserves.”
Hotel owner Malcolm Weaving added: “Barry Hoban won eight stages of the Tour de France, but they were all after Brian won his first. It is like Edmund Hillary climbing Everest. You can break records forever but you can never be other than the first.”
The launch also saw the unveiling of 16 new rooms in the “Tour de France” block, commemorating the day in 2014 when the race passed through the town.