Tour de France legend Bernard Hinault enjoys visit to Leeds

Caption: Five-time Tour de France winner Bernard Hinault (centre left) presents a signed race leader's yellow jersey to the headteacher of Kippax North School Barbara Clarke during his visit to Leeds flanked by (left to right) Leader of Leeds City Council Councillor Keith Wakefield, Tour de France Director Christian Prudhomme and Chief Executive of Welcome to Yorkshire Gary Verity

One of the great champions of the Tour de France was in Leeds today to sample the excitement around the Grand Départ of the race starting in the city next year.

Legendary French cyclist Bernard Hinault, who won the world’s greatest cycle race five times, paid a visit to the city to meet schoolchildren who have been inspired by the news that ‘Le Tour’ is coming to Leeds in July 2014.

Together with Tour de France Director Christian Prudhomme, the star guests were escorted on a visit to three city schools - Kippax North Primary, Brigshaw High School and Language School, and Carr Manor Community School - by the Leader of Leeds City Council Councillor Keith Wakefield and Welcome to Yorkshire’s Chief Executive Gary Verity.

During the visit the group were given tours of cycling facilities in the schools, as well as seeing the pupils in action on cycle tracks and watt bikes. There were also demonstrations of cycling proficiency and awareness projects the schools carry out, as well as presentations of work the schools are doing in preparation for the world’s largest annual sporting event coming to the city.

The pupils were also given the chance to ask questions of Bernard Hinault, who is one of the finest cyclists of all time having enjoyed an incredible career which saw him win the Tour de France five times between 1978 and 1985 while he was also runner-up twice.

As well as being in a select band of five riders to have won all three ‘Grand Tours’ – the Tour de France, the Giro d'Italia (Tour of Italy) and the Vuelta a España (Tour of Spain) – Hinault is the only rider ever to have won them all more than once.

He remains a highly visible presence at each Tour de France in his role as an official ambassador for the race, and can be seen at the end of every stage presenting the prizes and jerseys to the day’s stage winner and the race leaders.

Welcoming Bernard Hinault to the city, Leader of Leeds City Council Councillor Keith Wakefield said:

“We are very proud and honoured to welcome a true cycling legend and Tour de France great Bernard Hinault to Leeds. Bernard is a real hero to any fan of cycling and the Tour de France like myself, and we are delighted he has taken the time to visit our city and to get a feel for how excited we are to be hosting the Grand Départ of next year’s race.

“In particular I am pleased he and Christian are getting to meet lots of our young people on their visit, as a key element of the wonderful event to come next summer is the long-term legacy for cycling in Leeds and Yorkshire which is going to make it even more special.”

Chief Executive of Welcome to Yorkshire Gary Verity said:

“A key part of our legacy plans for the Grand Départ is to inspire the next generation; Christian and Bernard have seen today that their world-famous race is already doing that and we are over a year away from waving the riders off from Leeds city centre. This is just the start of what promises to be an era-defining moment for the people of Yorkshire.

"We are delighted that Christian and Bernard were able to witness first-hand the enthusiasm, passion and pride children of Yorkshire have for being able to say they are hosting the Grand Départ of the Tour de France.”

Director of the Tour de France Christian Prudhomme said:

“We brought Le Tour to Yorkshire because behind ‘Back le Bid’ there was a real desire to welcome the Tour and we have seen that passion and pride today at every school we have visited.

“To think that we are already inspiring the next generation of cycling fans in the UK makes me proud that we made the right decision to host the Grand Départ in Yorkshire in 2014.”

Headteacher of St Joseph's Catholic Primary School in Otley Cecilia Knight, whose pupils took part in the visit at Carr Manor Community School, said:

“Our children are so excited that 'Le Tour' will be coming through Otley and they were delighted to have been included in the opportunity to meet the delegation in Leeds today.

“We have lots of very keen cyclists at St Joseph's and meeting Bernard Hinault will be something they will always remember.”

Leeds will be the host city for the Grand Départ of next year’s Tour de France, which begins on Saturday 5 July 2014. The opening two stages of the race will be held in Yorkshire, before Le Tour heads south for stage three, starting in Cambridge and finishing in London.

It is estimated that 98 per cent of the population of Yorkshire will be within an hour of the route during its two days in the county, with the economic benefit expected to be in excess of £100m.

As host city for the Grand Départ, Leeds will be the focal point of attention in the days leading up to the start with the competing teams being presented to the public, while there will also be cycle shows, displays, market stalls, competitions and a range of cultural events in celebration of Le Tour’s arrival.

For more information visit www.yorkshire.com/le-tour-yorkshire or follow @letouryorkshire on Twitter.

Notes to editors:

As part of the Leeds City Region collaboration of local authorities, Leeds City Council is supporting ‘Highway to Health’, a bid to create a 23km cycle superhighway which would be the longest continuous cycleway in the north of England.

Linking Bradford and Leeds, the cycle superhighway would provide safe, segregated cycle lanes, secure cycle parking and activities to encourage cycling and walking. It would also improve connectivity and boost economic regeneration. For more information and to support the bid visit www.wymetro.com/news/13-04-30_Highway_to_Health/

All of the schools visited by Bernard Hinault and Christian Prudhomme are part of child friendly Leeds, the ambition to make Leeds the best city for children and young people to thrive and look forward to a brighter future. For more information visit www.leeds.gov.uk/childfriendlyleeds


For media enquiries please contact:

Roger Boyde,

Leeds City Council press office,

Tel 0113 247 5472

Email: roger.boyde@leeds.gov.uk