Minister for sport and tourism Helen Grant visited a British Cycling Go-Ride session in Leeds to see first-hand how the governing body is working hard to deliver a legacy from the Tour de France.
The minister called in at Benton Park School in Rawdon to watch over 30 pupils receive expert tuition from British Cycling coaches as part of a regular Go-Ride session, which is working to deliver more opportunities for young people to cycle.
The activity is just one aspect of British Cycling’s nationwide strategy to harness the inspiration of the Tour de France to strengthen existing programmes, which have been successful in delivering increased participation for many years.
Young people such as those at Benton Park School are being invited to take part in this year’s Go-Ride Tour, which is part of British Cycling’s Go-Ride Racing programme where 10,000 racing opportunities are expected to be available for young riders nationwide throughout 2014.
Adults will have the opportunity to take part in a national programme of 15 Sky Ride city events, with five planned in Yorkshire alone, 4,000 Breeze Rides for women and a growing events structure, across both competitive races and non-competitive sportives.
Helen Grant was welcomed at the school by British Cycling president Bob Howden alongside chair of TdFHUB2014 Ltd Sir Rodney Walker and Leeds City Council executive member for children’s services Councillor Judith Blake to give an update on how the city and region is gearing up for the world’s largest annual sporting event.
Minister for sport and tourism Helen Grant MP said: “It was great to be in Yorkshire to get an update on how plans are progressing for the Grand Depart. It’s going to be a fantastic event that will showcase Yorkshire to the world, boosting local tourism and encouraging more people to get on their bikes and take up the sport.
“The children at Benton Park were certainly enjoying their Go-Ride session with British Cycling and that is something that is being replicated at schools right across the country, as excitement builds ahead of Le Tour.”
President of British Cycling Bob Howden said: “British Cycling has established a superb record of delivery when it comes to ensuring there is a participation legacy from major sport events. Through our Sky Ride, Go-Ride and Breeze programmes and facility development, we are working hard to provide thousands of opportunities for people of all ages to get on their bikes.
“The Tour de France is a massive focus for all cyclists and we are committed to maintaining the momentum that this unique event brings with sustainable benefits for cycling and communities.”
Benton Park School head of design and technology Jonathan Farnaby said: “The cycling programme here has made a real impact since we decided to try and make it part of the mainsteam curriculum here a couple of years ago and we are grateful to our partners for all their support.
"The pupils really took to it across all types of cycling, and the success of British cyclists at London 2012 and Sir Bradley Wiggins, Chris Froome and Mark Cavendish at the Tour de France has helped it to become even more fashionable with the pupils.
"They are hugely excited at the chance to see their cycling heroes in action in Leeds and we can’t wait for July to get here.”
Chair of TdFHUB2014 Ltd Sir Rodney Walker said: “We were delighted to welcome the Minister to Leeds today, to see for herself the effect the Tour de France coming is already having and to meet the team who are working to make this the best Grand Départ ever seen.
"This is going to be a massive event for Yorkshire and the country and the Minister was keen to find out how things are coming along.”
Leeds City Council executive member for children’s services councillor Judith Blake said: “It was very pleasing to see the Minister in Leeds today, sampling the excitement and enthusiasm there is for cycling and the Tour de France which is rising by the day all over the Yorkshire region.
“It is especially important for our young people like those at Benton Park to be getting involved in cycling as we are committed to ensuring there is a lasting legacy from this amazing event.”