One of Yorkshire’s top Tour de France hopefuls has been grilled on his cycling ambitions by Leeds youngsters.
Team Sky rider Ben Swift, who is hoping to lineup alongside the likes of Sir Bradley Wiggins on the Headrow startline of Le Tour on July 5, was quizzed by children from the Hunslet Club and Otley Cycle Club in a question and answer event at Aspire in Leeds yesterday.
Swift looks on top form having ridden to victory on stage five of the Tour of the Basque Country last week, and is in contention for a seat in Team Sky’s Tour outfit alongside the likes of champion Chris Froome.
The Rotherham-born star, 26, also spoke to and cycled with staff from Sky, which employs over 1,200 people in Leeds.
He told the YEP: “These kids are the future of our sport and for them to be here and enjoying it in their holidays as well is good. Cycling is booming, especially in Yorkshire. The amount of people you see out on their bikes is incredible.”
Around a dozen five to 10-year-olds from the Hunslet Club took time out of an Easter activity camp to ask a series of questions to the sports star, not least about whether he would be riding in this year’s Tour.
Swift grew up riding along Yorkshire roads and grass tracks such as at Roundhay Park. The rider even has a property just 10km from the finish line of the York to Sheffield stage two.
Rating his chances of selection at 50/50, he said: “I would love to be there, I’ve had a pretty good start to the season, I always said I needed to come out strong and push early. It’s a hard team to make and whether my characteristics as a rider are what they’re looking for I don’t know.”
Craig Gilmore, the club’s sport development manager, said: “The children were all excitable, they’re at that age where it’s something new that they’ve not necessarily been exposed to. It’s been a great opportunity.”