Bernard Hinault saw and rode plenty of Grand Departs over the course of his illustrious career – setting himself on the way to winning five Tour de France titles in the process.
And having been invited to the white rose county to recce the route for stage two – a stage he told RCUK he would have relished attacking – he admitted the Tour is still very close to his heart.
“It’s the biggest race because it’s in the middle of the holidays in France for a start – though not for the riders of course,” he joked.
“It is the best race in the world, because it brings the best riders in the world together, it is broadcast to countries all over the world and it attracts the interest of all the world’s best journalists.”
As for the Grand Depart, Hinault has no doubt we are in for something spectacular when Leeds welcomes the world’s best riders in July.
“Having been out here I know we are in for a very nice Grand Depart,” he explained.
“It is a very nice course and the cyclists will make something of it. We hope that the riders will really make the race something special in Yorkshire because it deserves it.
“For sure, Yorkshire deserves the Grand Depart. Why wouldn’t it? The enthusiasm of the people of Yorkshire means the Grand Depart will definitely do well.”