A Tour de France legend has given his backing to Yorkshire’s fledgling cycle race.
Barry Hoban, 74, has wished the Tour de Yorkshire ‘good luck’ as it prepares for its inaugural event in 2015.
It was announced last week that Wakefield would host either a start or a finish during the May 1-3 race. The route will be announced on January 21.
Stanley-born Mr Hoban, who won eight Tour de France stages between 1967 and 1975, said: “I would like to wish the race good luck.
“When the Tour de France greats Bernard Hinault, Raymond Poulidor and race director Christian Prudhomme came last summer they were gobsmacked by the crowd participation in Yorkshire.”
He said one of them was shocked to see spectators lining the downhill route, which is seldom seen in France.
Mr Hoban, who travelled from his home in mid Wales to watch the Grand Depart last July, said: “The roads were crowded going downhill because there was no space on the uphill. The roads were littered with people.
“If we get a few choice names I’m sure the crowds will come again.”
But he said don’t expect quite the same level of fanaticism for the new race as for Le Tour, which was the “ultimate” event. Turning to possible race routes through Wakefield, Mr Hoban suggested Westgate, adding: “If there is going to be a finish in Wakefield that’s going to be the best finish. There is less traffic furniture and it is straight.”