Tour de France memories: The Cyclist

Russell Downing
Russell Downing
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Russ Downing: Rotherham cyclist riding for Pro-continental team Cult Energy.

It was a great occasion. The crowds were amazing and it was quite surreal.

It would have been nice to have been competing in it, but that’s bike racing – and there’s always the Tour of Yorkshire next May.

The Tour de France was an event that will be remembered for a long time. It portrayed Yorkshire in a new light, as a great place to cycle with some fantastic, challenging roads.

I’ve always lived here and fellow pro cyclists have asked why do I stay here when I could live abroad? Well they’ve seen our roads and now they know.

And those roads and climbs are why this county has produced so many great cyclists through the years.

I don’t think people realised how big the Tour de France would be. My brother Dean and I did a lot of work with Welcome to Yorkshire on the planning of the event and also the layout of the stages. A few of the riders came out with us on training rides to get a feel for Yorkshire’s roads.

Next May I hope to be riding the Tour of Yorkshire for real. Hopefully, over the coming months, I can help my new team, Cult Energy, get into the race.

The Tour of Yorkshire will be similar to the Criterium International in France – it is a three-day race that generates aggressive racing, where the leadership of the race changes hands frequently.

The Tour de France was superb. Hopefully, the sun will shine again and the crowds will come back out next May.