Wakefield cycling ace believes Yorkshire will be perfect host for Tour de France

TOP GEAR: Ollie Wood in action in the Colne Grand Prix.
TOP GEAR: Ollie Wood in action in the Colne Grand Prix.

The Tour de France comes to Yorkshire in 2014 and Wakefield cycling ace Oliver Wood believes the race organisers made the right decision in picking the county to host the Grand Depart.

The opening two stages of the 2014 race will ride through Yorkshire on Saturday, July 5 and Sunday, July 6 before the peloton moves south to London for the third stage and back into France.

And Wrenthorpe’s Wood, who rides as part of British Cycling’s Olympic Development Programme, thinks Yorkshire will be the perfect host for the world-famous race.

He should know - he has been a big fan of the race from a young age and has rode on the route stars such as Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish will come to grace.

“I’ve rode on some of the route over near the Holme Moss area,” he said.

“They’re hilly roads, not just upwards but also on the way down and they go through the villages over that way.

“I have to train on quiet roads so they’re the roads that I choose. They’re really tough and challenging. They’re going to be a good, physical test for the riders.”

The talented pedal pusher hopes to squeeze in as much of next year’s Tour in the White Rose county as possible and is confident the people of Yorkshire will embrace the huge event.

“I think the crowds will be big for the stages, especially with it being in Yorkshire,” he commented.

“There’s a great cycling community in Yorkshire, probably more so than anywhere else in the country.

“You always see groups of riders out and about on the roads cycling together so I think it will be supported really well up here.”

The route may be avoiding Wakefield during its two-stage stay in the county but Wood has not ruled out representing the city in future Tours.

It is an event that played a part in intensifying his interest in the sport and he will make a decision over whether to point his focus fully at the track or the road in the not-too-distant future.

“It could be something I compete in, I’m not too sure just said,” he admitted.

“I’ll probably find out in two of three years’ time when I’ll be a bit more matured as a rider.

“Bradley Wiggins has done both and Mark Cavendish has rode some races on the track too but you can’t really do both now if you want to be right at the top, it has to be one of the other.

“I used to watch the Tour with my dad when I was younger and when you see things on the television when you’re young you want to do them when you’re older and I’m the same with the Tour.

“The race is for the more experienced riders who get involved when they’re 26 or 27 but you do have some younger riders involved too.”

In the meantime he will continue his development with British Cycling’s ODP.

The programme is designed to produce Olympic champions for Great Britain and if Wood is not involved in the Tour, a potential Olympic medal is not a bad back-up.

“We’ll see how things go over the next few years but I can probably see my future more involved on the track, around the team pursuit,” he said.

“The current structure is all set-up towards that, from the Olympic Talent Team (which precedes the ODP) upwards.

“The funding for British Cycling is dependent on how many medals are won at the Olympics so that’s the ultimate goal.”