Tour de Yorkshire: beardy Wiggins unveils new team
Former Tour de France champion says he has no chance of winning inaugural cycling event
The inaugural Tour de Yorkshire starts today but Britain's most famous cyclist says he doesn't think he'll win it. Bradley Wiggins, who in 2012 became the first Briton to win the Tour de France, admits that at 35 he is past his prime. "I'm perhaps not the Bradley Wiggins of 2012. I'm ten kilos heavier with a dopey beard," said the man knighted for his services to the sport. "I'm not coming here trying to win this," he added. "But I feel liberated. I can have a go."
It's not just a new race that begins on Friday, it's also the first outing for Wiggins in his new team – Team Wiggins – and he says his role will be to pass on his experience. "I'm coming here to do a job for the younger guys in my team who are really up for it," he explained.
The three-day event comprises 144 riders with the opening stage taking the peloton 174km from Bridlington to Scarborough. Saturday's second stage is a similar distance, as the riders head from Selby to York, and the inaugural Tour finishes on Sunday with a 167km ride from Wakefield to Leeds.
Race organiser Gary Verity is expecting a big turnout over the bank holiday weekend and urged cycle fans to line the route to cheer on Wiggins and "salute one of our nation's greatest champions [because] you are coming to see a piece of history".
According to BBC Sport, one of the favourites to win the event is local lad Ben Swift, a 27-year-old Yorkshireman riding for Team Sky, who's a climber more than a sprinter. "I don't think a pure sprinter can win," said Swift. "But I think someone who can handle the punchier climbs quite well might." Asked if that person was him, Swift admitted victory was "a massive goal" for him.
The inspiration for the Tour de Yorkshire was born last July when the county staged the first two stages of the 2014 Tour de France – The Grand Depart. Such was the enthusiasm of the public and the riders, that it was decided Yorkshire needed its very own race.
Predicting that the event will be "a sensation", Cycling Weekly magazine says: "Last year's Tour de France barely scratched the surface when it came to exploring the landscape and roads of Yorkshire... organisers don't just want the Tour de Yorkshire to bask in the reflected glory of summer 2014; they want to create something that will live on. We reckon it has the potential to do just that."