Sir Chris Hoy thinks the Tour of Britain will be “massive” for cycling in the north-east.
Six-time Olympic gold medallist on the track, Hoy was in Aberdeen at PureGym Shiprow to launch the fitness chain’s national cycle relay for Mental Health UK.
The City and Shire councils have launched a joint bid to host the final stage of next year’s Tour, before taking on the event’s grand depart in 2021 – and Hoy has thrown his weight behind the plan.
Talking to the Evening Express, he said: “It’ll be massive.
“You’ve got amazing roads round here to cycle on.
“It would be great for the local cycling communities, but also great for the local kids to hopefully see the best riders in Britain and beyond, be inspired by that and keep the momentum going for cycling. The participation and interest.
“It would be good for Aberdeen and for the sport.”
Aberdeen has had great success hosting a round of the Tour Series over the past three years.
Among the elite competitors to take to the city centre streets has been Cuminestown’s Neah Evans.
Evans won scratch race silver and points race bronze medals representing Scotland at last year’s Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia.
Veteran of four Olympic Games Hoy thinks the 28-year-old home hero will be in the Great Britain reckoning for Tokyo 2020.
He is also watching with interest as Scotland’s Katie Archibald vies with Laura Kenny for the chance go for three titles in Japan.
Hoy said: “Neah was cycling when I was, but wasn’t on the national team at that point.
“She’s been doing incredibly well and is fighting for places in the Olympic team, as well as winning World Cups and medals and all sorts.
“She’s a massive talent, with the physical and mental tools. So we’ll be keeping our fingers crossed she can make it on the squad for Tokyo.
“It’s an interesting one. Katie (Archibald) and Laura (Kenny) are the two biggest names on the team.
“They’ve been in the women’s endurance squad for the last 10 years and a mainstay of the British cycling team.
“They’re the ones you rely on to win medals at every championships, World Cups, Europeans, worlds – they deliver.
“Katie’s been right at the front of that.
“But you’ve got Katie, and then Laura – two big stars who both want to go for all three events (team pursuit, madison and omnium). Whoever gets that chance could win three gold medals and be the biggest star of the whole Games.
“They’re mates but also rivals. It reminds me of myself and Jason Kenny. We were really good mates, but also big rivals.
“Hopefully they can use the rivalry and friendship to their own advantage.
“I’ve no doubt Katie has the ability, physically and mentally, to do it.”
Hoy is the second most decorated Olympic cyclist of all time. After team sprint silver at Sydney 2000, he won the 1km time trial in Athens.
His legacy was assured when he became the first modern Brit to claim three golds in one Olympics during the Beijing Games, with team sprint, keirin and individual sprint crowns.
He signed off his golden career at London 2012 with two more wins in the team sprint and keirin.
On the road, Chris Froome is Britain’s most successful rider, but his career has been left in the balance by a horror crash during preparation for a stage of the Criterium du Dauphine in France.
The four-time Tour de France winner faces months away from the sport with fractures to his neck, right femur, hip and ribs.
However, Hoy – from personal experience – says “formidable” Froome will be desperate to return to the top.
He said: “We don’t know how severe the injuries are. He’s broken a few bones, but it takes time once you get through rehab, get back on the bike and can assess the real damage.
“I had big crash in 2009 after Beijing and was 33 then.
“A lot of people I think thought ‘that’ll be the end of him, big crash, he’s achieved what he needs and wants to achieve, now’s the time to retire’.
“But I don’t think Chris will do that – he wants that fifth Tour de France title. He’s a formidable athlete.
“If he can recover physically I’m sure we’ll see him again. But time will tell.”