NED Boulting has covered every Tour de France since 2003 and, with the world’s most famous cycle race passing the edge of the county in July, many Lancashire cycle enthusiasts will be gearing up to cross the border to see cycling’s biggest stars ride through Skipton and the Yorkshire Dales.

Before that, TV cycling pundit Boulting will be delivering a special talk about his broadcasting career and the many memorable moments from the classic race when he appears at Clitheroe Grand Theatre next weekend for which a limited number of tickets remain..

“Cycling has transformed itself from a niche, backwater sport to a pastime that has hooked into the British sporting psych,e with Bradley Wiggins winning the Tour de France in 2012 and then Olympic gold,” said Boulting.

“Before Wiggins, Mark Cavendish and Chris Froome, I felt like I was broadcasting into a wilderness.

“When Wiggins won the Tour, he made British cycling re-evaluate its ambitions.

“It was an unimaginable feat and Wiggins’s achievements have changed the way we think about ourselves as a nation of riders.”

While we are living in a golden era of British cycling, the shadow of the disgraced American superstar rider Lance Armstrong and other doping scandals continues to make the headlines.

“As a journalist, I found Lance Armstrong a fascinating and compelling story to cover and I was always astonished by the scale of interest in him.

“He had won the Tour de France seven times, fought back from cancer and had helped countless cancer sufferers to fight their illness.

“That is a remarkable achievement which, in the eyes of many, constricts the room for criticism, so he was talked about in hushed, reverential tones.

“Armstrong is fiercely intelligent, extraordinarily charismatic, but he was a cheat.

“The penny dropped for me as far back as 2004 — but we couldn’t say anything.

“I have massive admiration for the reporters who went after him because Armstrong appeared untouchable.”

Boulting added: “When the evidence became too overwhelming, Armstrong went on The Oprah Winfrey Show and admitted what he had done.

“On the one hand I wasn’t remotely surprised, because it was blindingly obvious that Armstrong and many others were using performance-enhancing drugs.

“But the act of confession staggered me.

“He got a life ban and I hope we don’t hear anything from Lance Armstrong again.”

So what does the future hold for cycling and the Tour de France?

“I’m absurdly optimistic about the whole sport. The last three Tours — 2013, 2012 and 2011 — they were probably the cleanest we’ve seen in a 100 years.

“The modern finishing times are a lot slower than the Armstrong era and you can probably draw your own conclusions from that.

“Covering the Tour is very intense, chaotic and wonderful, with hundreds of riders all having a different story to tell.

“You’ve had a day of script writing, chasing after the riders in the car, sometimes for hundreds of miles, and then through the chaos and the melee you’ve got to be right on the money when the producer says, ‘You’re on in 20 seconds Ned, tell us what has happened today.

“Do you know what? It can be the best job in the world.”

The event is sponsored by The Green Jersey Bikes ‘n’ Brews Shop, Clitheroe.

  • An evening with Ned Boulting, Clitheroe Grand, Sunday, May 18. 01200 421599.