Cycling Opinion

Five of our favourite Yorkshire cyclists

While the Vuelta a Espana may not quite be over, the Worlds are looming in just two weeks. That’s right, a mere fortnight before the annual battle for the honour of wearing rainbow bands for the next 364 days begins.

While it’s always thrilling to watch the world’s best cyclists compete for the title of world champion, we’re especially excited that this year the Championships are being held in the UK; in Yorkshire, in fact. By now, Yorkshire’s credentials as a place to host bike races are well-established; the Tour came in 2014 and the people of the region came out in droves to support. That gave way to the creation of a Tour de Yorkshire, which grows in stature and excitement every year. Now, the Worlds.

Yorkshire’s cycling heritage goes way further back than 2014, of course. It’s been a hotbed of bicycling since bicycles began, producing some of the UK’s finest talents on two-wheel. From World Champions to record-setting Tour de France stage winners, these are five of the best cyclists to come out of Yorkshire.

Lizzie Deignan

Olympic gold medallist and former winner of the World Championships, Lizzie Deignan, is one of the strongest riders our country has ever produced. With wins at Strade Bianche, Gent–Wevelgem and the Tour of Flanders – as well as her 2015 Worlds win in Richmond, she’s a proven winner in tough one-day races. Lucky for Lizzie, then, that the Yorkshire course is exactly that. Both the men’s and women’s road races will pass through her hometown of Otley, and she will definitely be getting a huge reception from the fans on the road.

Barry Hoban

Before Mark Cavendish broke his record in 2009, Barry Hoban was the British rider who’d won the most Tour de France stages in his career. Riding in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, Hoban’s racing was conducted in a different age; when going to ride on the continent was almost unheard of for British riders. The fact that he was taking wins off the likes of Francesco Moser and Patrick Sercu just makes his achievements all the more impressive.

Beryl Burton 

Arguably the most successful rider ever born in Yorkshire, Beryl Burton won pretty much everything it was possible to win. Celebrated cycling biographer, William Fotheringham, has a book coming out very soon about Burton, and described her thus:

“She was a fixture in the British cycling world, one of those unique figures who was simultaneously a god like person who was way above the average in what she had achieved, yet who was accessible because she did the same races that so many did. All British cyclists of a certain age have either been caught by Beryl in a time trial, or have a friend who has.”

Dave Rayner

A talented cyclist in his own right, Dave Rayner’s life was tragically cut short, but the legacy that he left behind continues on to this day. A memorial fund was established in Rayner’s name after his death, with the aim of helping young British cyclists to develop themselves by going to race abroad. This created a pathway for people like David Millar, Adam Yates and Dan Martin to begin their careers outside (on in Millar’s case, before the establishment of) the GB Cycling talent factory.

Brian Robinson

As far as trail-blazers go, Brian Robinson is perhaps the original British example. He was the first Briton to finish the Tour de France (alongside Tony Hoar) way back in 1955. He followed that achievement by winning the UK’s first stage at Le Grand Boucle in 1959, as well as the Criterium du Dauphiné Libéré in 1961. It’s widely thought that the successes he achieved paved the way for riders like Hoban and Tom Simpson.

 

We’re fully aware we’ve missed a few names in this by-no-means-exhaustive list, from the famous Downing brothers Russell and Dean to newly-minted national champion, Ben Swift, who will line up as one of GB’s best chances of victory in Yorkshire later this month.

Who are your favourite riders from Yorkshire, and how do you rate our chances in this ‘home’ World Championships?