Yorkshire’s high hopes for economic and sporting benefits from hosting the Tour de France in July are within reach, according to Minister for Sport and Tourism Helen Grant.
The MP’s comments came in a visit to Benton Park School, in Rawdon, where around 30 Year 7 and 8 pupils saddled up to take part in a British Cycling Go-Ride event yesterday.
The comprehensive school is one of a number in the county to be drawing on the enthusiasm for Le Tour by progressing a cycling club, setting up inter-school events and bringing two wheels into the PE curriculum.
Mrs Grant was joined by TDFHUB2014 Ltd chair Sir Rodney Walker and British Cycling president Bob Howden along with Welcome to Yorkshire and Leeds City Council chiefs for an update on Tour preparations.
She said: “It’s got wonderful scenery, beautiful stages, so why wouldn’t people want to come here? And as far as the cycling is concerned I know British Cycling are working very hard to make sure the links are made between the inspiration and the motivation from the event and converting that into getting local people on bikes participating and encouraging the sport.”
The sentiment behind a Tour de France cycling legacy was shared by British Cycling president Mr Howden. The governing body’s Go-Ride Tour is set to provide 10,000 racing opportunities to young people in 2014.
He said: “It’s happening already, the benefits are there, we have signed up with every local authority in Yorkshire to build opportunities in schools and we can now sit down at chief executive level and help to drive this – the signs are extremely positive.”
Jonny Farnaby, Benton Park’s head of design and technology, helped the school forge links with transport charity Sustrans to buy 20 bikes and launch a cycling club two years ago, which is now flourishing.
He said: “The fact that students have developed an appreciation for cycling is great, it’s become the culture – this is something that’s now part of the routine.”