Britain’s Grand Tour winning trio have shared their thoughts on a “perfect year”.
For the first time in history, all three of the world’s biggest bike races were won by British riders.
Now the victors – Simon Yates, Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas – have toasted the latest instalment in Britain’s cycling success story.
Vuelta a España winner Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) said: “It’s astonishing really.
“Growing up I was so accustomed to seeing the French, Italian and Spanish riders lead the way, so for myself, Chris and Geraint to all win a Grand Tour in the same year just shows how far the sport has come in this country.
“It hasn’t happened by accident and I’m so thankful to everybody who has been part of the journey.”
The 26-year-old from Bury rode with the Bury Clarion Cycling Club before he was selected for the British Cycling Olympic Academy programme.
The Italian three-week race was instead won by Chris Froome, who picked up his third consecutive Grand Tour victory in May.
Team Sky rider Froome, a four-time Tour de France winner, said: “Simon has looked so strong over the last three weeks and it’s great to see him take home the maillot rojo [red jersey]. It’s been a perfect year for British riders and I’m already excited o see how the guys perform in Innsbruck at the Worlds later this month.”
Froome finished third in this year’s Tour, behind Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb) and surprise winner Geraint Thomas (Team Sky).
Thomas, the first Welshman to ever win the Tour, said: “At the homecoming parade in Cardiff it was really humbling to see so many kids there on bikes and in their replica jerseys.
“Growing up, cycling was still very much on the fringes and it’s just amazing to see the real impact our recent success has had.
“If watching Simon, Froomey and myself can inspire a kid to get on a bike, whether they’re racing or just playing out with their mates, that’s a legacy that we can all be incredibly proud of.”
The next stop for British riders is the World Championships in Austria later his month.
Simon Yates and his twin brother Adam will headline the British team, while Froome and Thomas will sit out the race after a packed 2018 season.
The governing body, British Cycling, hope these major victories can inspire people to pick up their bikes, and ultimately, make the nation more active.
Chief executive of British Cycling Julie Harrington said: “We know that their success has helped inspire people up and down the country to get on their bikes, whether they want to race, get fit, or just ride for fun.
“As Britain continues to battle with obesity, inactivity, and the associated social costs, we believe that cycling has a huge role to play in helping to create a healthier and happier Britain.
“Victories like these are vital in encouraging people to take that first step.”
Also singing the praises of Britain’s cycling stars was the sports minister Tracey Crouch MP, who congratulated Yates and wished the British team luck for the Worlds.