Great Britain Cycling Team Olympic Academy Programme rider Gabriel Cullaigh is relishing the prospect of racing with the world’s best when the Tour de Yorkshire passes through his home village of New Mill on Sunday 3 May.
Part of a young eight-man team selected for the three-day UCI 2.1 stage race, Cullaigh will draw inspiration from riding the roads that helped nurture the 19-year-old’s considerable talent.
"It means a lot - I can't really describe it,” said Cullaigh, one of three Yorkshiremen riding for Great Britain in the event from 1-3 May.
Stage three on Sunday will start in Wakefield, hometown of Cullaigh’s teammate Oliver Wood and will finish in Leeds, birthplace of guest rider Josh Edmondson.
"It doesn't seem real,” continued Cullaigh.
"The Tour coming to Yorkshire last year was one of the best spectacles of my life - to be in something that's going to be similar to that is going to be amazing.”
Cullaigh began cycling in earnest in his early teens - riding his mountain bike on road with father John, unaware that the world of bike racing was about to beckon.
"When I was 13 my dad had a road bike,” he said. “I was really into that - just going fast and stuff. I could see that when I was on a mountain bike on the road with my dad, I couldn't go as quick.
"Then I saw Tour of Britain on TV and I didn't even know bike racing existed so seeing that I instantly wanted to give it a go.
The foundation laid down within the Go-Ride Club paid dividends and Cullaigh continued along the British Cycling performance pathway, joining the academy in winter 2014 and looking ahead to his first season as part of Great Britain Cycling Team under-23 road manager Keith Lambert’s squad.
His first 2015 assignment was as far from his Holmfirth roots as can be, the Jayco Herald Sun Tour in Victoria, Australia, where Cullaigh gained valuable experience riding with top riders in the peloton, experience he hopes to augment at Tour de Yorkshire.
"It's going to be great. It'll be all about learning really - seeing how they ride with the rest of the team. How they ride at certain points in the race,” said Cullaigh.
"I took a lot of that from the Herald Sun Tour in Australia - Orica GreenEdge were riding with Matt Goss and Tyler Farrar.
"I learned a lot at that race so I can see that we're going to learn a hell of a lot more. It's going to be an honour to ride with the likes of Wiggins and Kittel."
Cullaigh is no stranger to the big occasion, having ridden the 2014 UCI Road World Championships for Great Britain in Spain. And the young rider is under no illusions about the challenges he and the team will face over the three contrasting stages of the Tour de France Grand Depart legacy event.
"It's going to be a really hard race,” said Cullaigh.
"That first day is going to be a real decider for the next two days. It's going to be a select bunch that comes down to the finish in Scarborough.
"The second day is a sprint day so I don't think there's going be a GC time difference into York,” Cullaigh continued.
"The last day is going to be savage. It'll be about looking after whoever's up there on that first day for us I imagine.
"But you never know - it's bike racing isn't it..."
How to follow the race
- Daily reports, results and images will appear on the British Cycling website
- TV coverage will be provided by ITV and Eurosport. Full details are available on the Tour de Yorkshire website.
- Follow the Tour de Yorkshire on Twitter (#TdY) and Facebook
Full information on the events, including spectator guides and route details are available at the Tour de Yorkshire website.