LEEDS professional cyclist Liam Holohan has set his sights on the sport’s Grand Tours after being mesmerised by the enthusiastic crowds at last weekend’s Tour De Yorkshire.
Holohan rides for the Madison Genises team, competing in the ‘2.HC Major UCI Continental Circuit’ stage races such as the Tour Of Britain.
Last weekend’s Tour De Yorkshire was, technically speaking, another notch down as a ‘2.1 or 2.2 Other UCI Continental Circuit’ stage race but Holohan insists even experienced Tour De France riders were left comparing the county’s 2015 offering to a stage of one of the sport’s Grand Tours.
Holohan was competing in lesser races abroad when the Tour De France spectacularly raced into gear in Yorkshire last summer through the Grand Depart.
At present, the French spectacular plus the sport’s other two Grand Tours – the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a España – have been races Holohan could only dream of.
Yet the Morley-raised 27-year-old was hugely encouraged at going wheel to wheel with the sport’s big names last weekend and sees no reason why he cannot grace cycling’s ‘big three’ in the years to come.
Holohan told The Yorkshire Post: “Last weekend we were way ahead of some of the other Pro Continental teams and my ambition would definitely to be ride at that level – just so I could do more races with atmosphere’s like the Tour De Yorkshire. We showed last weekend that we can hold our own.
“The Tour De Yorkshire was actually one down from the races we normally compete in such as the Tour Of Britain but the atmosphere was absolutely spectacular and I’ve never really had it before. Obviously, all the British teams and especially a Yorkshire rider like me were saying the Tour De Yorkshire was the best thing since sliced bread.
“But you even heard from the French guys, who have raced the Tour De France with the best facilities in the world, saying what a great race it was and how many people were there at the side of the road and how narrow the roads are and things like that.
“In places it did get a bit dicey but what an atmosphere and I’m not saying it’s a bad thing at all!
“It was like goosebumps stuff and I thought ‘this has surely got to be a permanent thing on the calender.’
“The people of Yorkshire really crave cycling given all the success we’ve had and the success of the Grand Depart.
“And I just hope I can go up one level as if I did then, theoretically, I would be able to do the Giro, the Tour De France and the Paris–Roubaix – all the best races in the world.”
For now, Holohan’s main 2015 focus is on this year’s Tour Of Britain as well as June’s British Championships and August’s Prudential Ride London-Surrey Classic.
More immediately, the former Churwell Primary and Woodkirk Academy pupil is heading for races in Ireland, Norway and Romania – and all with an extra spring in his step after last weekend’s Tour De Yorkshire.
The cyclist now lives in Shrewbury with former junior cyclist and wife Jess who works for the local council – conveniently in promoting sustainable transport – but for Holohan the White Rose county will always hold special memories.
He added: “I remember riding up to Bolton Abbey on all the roads that we raced on the other week when I was really young.
“My dad used to push me home sort of thing and walk up the climbs because I wasn’t strong enough to get up them, or I didn’t have enough gears on my bike.
“We all have our dreams don’t we and I definitely have mine – to ride the Giro or the Tour. It would be a dream come true. I guess if you look at it in terms of a bucket list then I’ve ticked off racing on Yorkshire roads now!”