All-star cast for big send-off ff

Halifax Courier - - Tour De Yorkshire - By Tom Scargill

A fort­night ahead of the in­au­gu­ral Tour de York­shire, an all-star cast has as­sem­bled for what prom­ises to be much more than a cer­e­mo­nial send­off for Bradley Wig­gins. Fif­teen years ago, when a cal­low 20-year-old named Bradley Wig­gins pre­pared to em­bark on a ca­reer as a pro­fes­sional road cy­clist, the idea that he would end that jour­ney with a race in York­shire would have sur­prised no one.

Un­til that point, only a hand­ful of Bri­tish cy­clists had pos­sessed the tal­ent and en­deav­our to out­grow the do­mes­tic gold­fish bowl and make a splash in Europe’s big­gest races, so why would Wig­gins be any dif­fer­ent?

If York­shire in 2015 was go­ing to be his end of the line - and he would have done well to stick around that long - his fi­nal com­pet­i­tive out­ing would no doubt be in some lo­cal time trial, for years the bread and but­ter of the Bri­tish rac­ing scene. How times have changed - and changed be­cause of Wig­gins.

If the in­au­gu­ral Tour de York­shire is to wel­come some of the world’s top rid­ers over three days this May, it is in large part thanks to Sir Brad’s Tour de France victory in 2012 - the big bang in a wider ex­plo­sion for cy­cling in Great Bri­tain.

The scale of that boom will be ev­i­dent in York­shire, as Wig­gins makes his de­but for his very own, epony­mous team, Team Wig­gins. Seven other Bri­tish squads will take their place on the start­ing grid, in­clud­ing, of course, Wig­gins’s alma mater, Team Sky.

In Ben Swift, Sky also pos­sess a York­shire na­tive and one of the favourites for both stage vic­to­ries and over­all honours on an un­du­lat­ing, un­pre­dictable route bor­row­ing many of the roads and climbs show­cased in last year’s Tour de France Grand Dé­part.

Wig­gins, Swift and Sky’s oth­er­her head­line acts apart, the star ar at­trac­tion is a rider who rev­elled­velled in the Tour’s visit to York­shir­erk­shire last year, Ger­man sprinter rin­ter Mar­cel Kittel. The Gi­ant-Alpecin t-Alpecin pow­er­house will be hotly tipped to win stages 1 andd 2, but faces a stern test on the e hil­lier ter­rain head­ing into Leedseds on the fi­nal af­ter­noon.

The course that day may be more ore suited to Bei­jing 2008 Olympic ympic cham­pion Sa­muel Sancheznchez (BMC Rac­ing Team), to Steven Kruijswijk of Team Lotto otto NL-Jumbo, or to Bri­tish h rider Steve Cum­mings of MTN-Qhubeka TN-Qhubeka and his team­mate ate Gerald Ci­olek.

A pair of French­men with king ng of the moun­tains ti­tles in ma­jor ajor tours to their name, Ni­co­las s Edet of Cofidis and Thomas Voeck­ler eck­ler of Europ­car, can also be ex­pected to come alive as the racece climbs up into the moors.

What Wig­gins, the re­turn­ing, g, de­part­ing prodi­gal son def­i­nite­lyfinitely won’t get is an easy Which, af­ter an odyssey as long and testing as his, is no doubt ubt just the way he would haveve wanted it.

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