Full gallery of photos from the 2008 Rayner Dinner>>

The 14th Anniversary Dave Rayner Fund Dinner, held at Harrogate’s Majestic Hotel on Saturday evening, saw past and present Tour de France stage winners take centre stage at the annual fund-raising function.

Four hundred and seventy people packed the grand dining hall to enjoy the Tour memories of the main guest of honour Raymond Poulidor, Mark Cavendish, Chris Boardman, Barry Hoban and Michael Wright.

Poulidor was invited by friend and Rayner Fund president Brian Robinson, who was the first British Tour stage winner back in 1958. How fitting it was to have Cavendish present to book-end 50 years of British Tour history with him having taken four stage wins at this year’s Tour.

British Eurosport commentator David Harmon was on hand to do the MC duties for the evening and after the dinner was on stage to invite Poulidor and Robinson to relive their Tour moments. Questions were put to Poulidor by Robinson in English and then in French, with Hoban on hand to translate Poulidor’s humorous responses.

Wright, British by birth but brought up in the Wallone region of Belgium, was also helped in translation by Hoban. With Hoban’s eight Tour stage wins and Wright’s three, they produced a period of consistent wins through the sixties and seventies.

Boardman was next up, citing his Dublin 1998 Tour prologue win as his most memorable of the three he achieved in his career. “It was purely that I didn’t feel I had the condition at the time to produce a performance,” he said.

“Going round the Dublin circuit, the crowd reaction was just amazing and that was just in warm up. So to win in front of those crowds was something special.”

Cavendish then took to the stage. The Manxman said that his Giro stage wins were the point in his sprinting career when “I learned how to position myself better. That helped when it came to the Tour de France.”

Asked which he considered to be the best of his four Tour wins, Cavendish said: “The first. For any sprinter I think that first win holds the most for them.” Cavendish then related, “Once I’d got my job done with a stage win the others came easily.”

This was quickly picked up by Harmon: “You say easily?” to which a bashful Cavendish clarified his statement with: “Well, easier”.

The evening went on to finish with the all important auction of cycling memorabilia which included: signed Tour of Britain jerseys, a framed Alberto Contador Vuelta leader’s jersey and one of Johnny Bellis’s CSC-Saxo Bank jerseys. Bellis was on hand to help with the auction of his signed jersey which added over £200 to the night’s fund-raising total.

See Thursday’s Cycling Weekly magazine for more on the Dave Rayner dinner.

Dave Rayner dinner 2008Raymond Poulidor and Barry Hoban

Dave Rayner dinner 2008Tour de France stage winners with the Rayners

Dave Rayner dinner 2008Mark Cavendish takes to the stage

Dave Rayner dinner 2008Many items were on offer in the fund-raising auction

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Full gallery of photos from the 2008 Rayner Dinner

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