CYCLING superstar Sir Bradley Wiggins bid farewell to road racing in Leeds yesterday, confident the Tour de Yorkshire means the legacy of the county’s 2014 Grand Depart is here to stay.
The four-times Olympic gold medallist seemingly drew the curtain on his road racing career with this weekend’s outing in the new three-day event which came to a conclusion in front of massive crowds at Roundhay Park on Sunday evening.
And while Wiggins will probably not be around to compete in the event in 2016, the 35-year-old is confident the race will continue to go from strength to strength backed by such passionate support.
Wiggins stressed before the Tour De Yorkshire that he would never be in contention to win the race and was using it as a build-up towards next month’s attempt to break the hour record, set again by fellow Briton Alex Dowsett in Manchester on Saturday afternoon.
Yet the 2012 Sports Personality Of The Year still proved the main draw in Yorkshire with the 35-year-old given a heroic welcome by a large crowd back to his Team Wiggins truck which was then engulfed by several hundred passionate fans.
Wiggins finished yesterday’s final stage in 42nd – and 59th overall - but eventually re-emerged from his truck to sign hundreds of autographs, pose for pictures and tell the Yorkshire Post: “That was all right. It wasn’t too bad!
“The weather held out which was good and it was quite a tough day which made it perfect for what I’m after. I did enjoy it in a funny way.
“The crowds were incredible, again, and it was probably the best of the three days.
“It’s surprising that people still come out to watch us bunch of wallies riding around, even though it’s not the Tour. It’s fantastic.
“I just think people love it don’t they and people have a go at it as well which is good, it’s quite inclusive.
“There’s not many sports like that really.
“A lot of families go out and ride their bikes on Sundays, as I do. We don’t go up the park and play a game of rugby.
“There’s not many sports where you can go and do it all together really and it’s quite good like that really.
“A lot of people were on bikes this weekend, some of them were anyway. It was good to see.
“Obviously the success of the event, if it continues, would be a legacy to the Tour coming last year.
“The crowds are fantastic.
“It’s just a shame they couldn’t make Yorkshire a bit flatter!”
Assessing his preparations for the hour record on Sunday, June 7, at the Lee Valley Velodrome in London, Wiggins said: “I’m really happy about it, I’m excited and I’m looking forward to it.
“With Alex, what he did on Saturday, it just adds to the event, adds to the excitement and it’s good.
“It might be bigger than Maywewather versus Pacquiao.
“I just want to go as fast as possible.
“That’s a bit sit on the wall but everyone is used to sitting on the wall these days with everyone going for government next week.
“I’ll see but I’m only going to do it once so we’ll have to go as fast as we can really.”