The Tour de France returning to the UK is not only a chance to bring a world class sporting tournament to the British public but also an opportunity for homegrown talent to show the world what they can do on familiar soil. The past decade has seen British cyclists ranking as some of the best in the world and next year’s tournament promises to showcase the best in British talent. With that in mind here are a few names to look out for in the Tour de France Leeds 2014.
Mark Cavendish is likely to be in with a real chance after it was recently revealed that a sprinter-friendly route for the opening stage of next year’s race. Harrogate is home to Cavendish’s mother and uncle and so it is well assumed that the Yorkshire cyclist will be trying for a home sprint in front of the family. Cavendish is one of the best known names in British cycling. Originally specialising in track he switched to road cycling in 2006 and rose to prominence as a sprinter. Since then he has won no short of 23 Tour de France stages putting him fourth on the all time list. He became the second British cyclist ever to win the UCI Road World Championships in 2011. Other notable wins include the 2009 Milan – San Remo classic and the points classification in both the 2010 Vuelta a España and the 2011 Tour de France. Last year saw him become the first person to win the Champs-Élysées stage in the Tour de France in four consecutive years. In 2011 he was awarded BBC Sports Personality of the Year in the same year as being awarded an MBE for services to British cycling. Alongside Bradley Wiggins, Cavendish has taken the status of British cycling to a new level. Still only 28 years old he still has a lot to prove and with competitors such as Wiggins setting the bench mark there is no telling what he still might achieve.
One of the British cycling teams lesser known talents is Ben Swift, Team Sky’s Yorkshire-based rider. Born in South Yorkshire the 25 year old trains regularly on the roads that will be used next summer potentially giving him an upper hand in the race, particularly when it comes to more challenging parts of the course. Cutting his teeth as a road cyclist to win the title of Yorkshire’s very own King of the Mountains competition, Swift became the first ever British World Scratch Champion on the track in 2012.The local lad will be doing all he can to be selected for the team next year and impress in front of home crowds.
Never again will a conversation about British cycling be had without mentioning the name Bradley Wiggins. After becoming the first British cyclist ever to win Le Tour de France last year Wiggins went on to win a gold medal in London 2012 road cycling. He was thus awarded BBC Sports Personality of the Year warding off competition in what was Britain’s most extraordinary year of sport. At the beginning of 2013 he was awarded a knighthood for his services to British cycling. Raised in London the road and track cyclist will be looking to make a further impact in Le Tour de France 2014 finishing the third stage on home soil reminiscent of last year’s Olympic win.
And of course whilst all eyes will be on who can win the all important medals, it musn’t be forgotten who helped to secure the bid against tough competition. Team Sky’s Ben Swift, double Olympic track champion Ed Clancy,, winner of eight stages of the Tour, Barry Hoban, and Malcolm Elliott, the first British rider to win a points jersey in a Grand Tour, all helped to support ‘Back Le Bid’ which triumphed over such international cities as Edinburgh and Florence.