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Top cyclist Swift relishing Ilkley sprint

Top cyclist Swift relishing Ilkley sprint

Published at 8:35am 30th April 2015. (Updated at 7:02pm 30th April 2015)

World-class cyclist Ben Swift says he's relishing the opportunity to race in front of home crowds in the Tour de Yorkshire.

The inaugural event takes place from 1 to 3 May and will welcome the return of some of the world’s best cyclists following last year's successful Tour de France Grand Départ.

The Yorkshire-born sprinter has been in Ilkley to celebrate the Tour coming to town.

It will host the first sprint on Sunday and Swift hopes he can capitalise on a partisan crowd.

He said: "There's something special about racing in your home county and I can't wait to get started.

"If it's anything like the Tour de France, I know the local support will be amazing. I hope I can feed off that in the sprints and put in a good performance."

Swift has unveiled a giant replica of the official sprinter's jersey, sponsored by Yorkshire Bank, at the Cow and Calf rocks on Ilkley Moor.

Riders will cycle right past the iconic landmark which has become synonymous with Ilkley and Yorkshire. 

Swift admitted he would love to be in the running for the coveted sprinter's jersey, adding: "It's been good coming up here to remind myself of the route.

"Stage 3 is looking particularly challenging, but I'd love to be in the mix. There's a couple of tough climbs before we drop into Ilkley, so I'll need to hold something back for the sprint."

Ben Swift

In addition to sponsoring the race’s sprinters jersey, Yorkshire Bank is already an active supporter of cycling in the region through the ground-breaking Yorkshire Bank Bike Libraries.

The initiative, set up in partnership with Cycle Yorkshire, aims to give everyone in Yorkshire access to a bike and Swift is fully supportive of the scheme.

He said: "I first became aware of the Yorkshire Bank Bike Libraries last year and I think it’s a great idea. I'm all for any initiative that encourages more people of all ages to get on their bikes.

"Cycling in Yorkshire has really taken off over the last few years. It’s important to build on the legacy of the Tour de France and events like this will hopefully inspire a new generation of talented riders."