IAN Wilkinson believes the Tour De France effect has raised the profile and popularity of cycling in East Lancashire, and events such as the Colne Grand Prix can help the sport to keep growing.
There was no super finish for the man nicknamed 'Superman' at his local race, as the Barnoldswick-based elite racing cyclist sacrificed the chance of a sprint finish to benefit Team Raleigh team-mates George Atkins and Alex Blain who narrowly missed out on the podium in finishing fourth and sixth.
But with a healthy turn-out in the town, on the back of the Grand Depart which passed through nearby Skipton, Wilkinson is confident of the bicycle buzz being sustained.
“It’s come into the public eye a lot more. Cycling is on the up as a sport and you just see when you’re out in the car – or in my case out on a bike – you just see loads of people riding now whether it’s to get to work or for leisure or luckily for me as a job,” said the 35-year-old.
“It’s a great thing. You only have to go down the road to Skipton and they’ve still got all the yellow bikes up.
“It’s taken cycling up another notch really and I don’t think it’s going to have a problem maintaining it.
“I think it’s on the rise gradually and everyone’s seeing it as a good thing. And what better way to get to work, save money on petrol, trim your waist down and get there without the stress of being sat in a car every morning.”
Wilkinson has made his hobby his profession and tonight competes again in the next round of the elite circuit series in Beverley, where he is hoping to improve on Wednesday’s outcome in Colne.
Wilkinson worked to bring the peloton back together after his Raleigh squad missed the four-man break, before dropping out in the closing stages having done his job for the evening.
“I’ve not been 100 per cent lately because of a virus so I just did what I could for them,” said Wilkinson.
“They are doing well in the series and fourth and sixth is a strong position for them.
“I would have loved to have got a result for myself but what goes around comes around and as it is a team aspect at another event when I’m going really well the other guys will be roles reversed and riding for me. It was disappointing but there’s always another day.”