A 12-year-old boy who went viral after being caught on camera racing alongside some of the world’s top cyclists described being a guest of honour at the final stage of the Tour of Britain as “amazing”.
Xander Graham, from Edinburgh, caught the attention of cycling fans around the world after he was spotted on TV coverage riding alongside the breakaway in yesterday’s seventh stage.
The youngster, who is a keen cyclist and a member of Edinburgh RC, was handed a water bottle by Pascal Eenkhoorn, who rides for the Jumbo-Visma team, as the professionals passed him.
The real race we're here for!
Nicely done, @PascalEenkhoorn 🙌
— AJ Bell Tour of Britain 🇬🇧 (@TourofBritain) September 11, 2021
The gesture was widely hailed – and the team had another surprise for Xander as he was invited to the start of the final stage of the race, which is sponsored by AJ Bell, in Stonehaven as their guest.
He was given a tour of their state-of-the-art team bus and a signed jersey, and even “signed on” for the stage with Pascal and team-mates Gijs Leemreize, New Zealand national champion George Bennett and three-time Tour de France stage winner Wout van Aert.
‘I couldn’t sleep because I was so excited’
After the riders had set off, Xander – who dreams of one day winning the tour – said: “It was amazing. I wasn’t expecting it at all. I couldn’t sleep last night because I was so excited.
“I’ve loved cycling since I was a young boy.
“My favourite part was getting the jersey signed by the whole team.”
Proud dad Martin was out watching yesterday’s stage with Xander and hadn’t realised his son had become famous until friends and family got in touch to say they had spotted him.
‘We are super proud of him’
“I didn’t actually know he was on the telly,” Mr Graham said.
“We were watching the race locally and my phone starting beeping with people saying ‘your son’s on the TV’.
“The next thing we started seeing him on social media and by the time we got back and watched it on TV it had already blown up.
“We are super proud of him. He loves cycling and everything about it. It’s his passion and to be picked up on national TV has just been spectacular.
“For us as a cycling family, it’s been mind-blowing.”