It’s not every day two schoolboys come to the aid of a former world champion cyclist – but that’s exactly what happened in Yorkshire last week when Mark Cavendish got lost while undertaking a reconnaissance of the opening stage of July’s Tour de France.
The Omega Pharma-Quick Step rider has made winning Stage 1 of the race his big goal for 2014. It finishes in his mother’s home town of Harrogate, and should it finish in a sprint and the 29-year-old wins, he will become just the third British rider to have worn the leader’s jersey in all three of cycling’s Grand Tours.
According to the Daily Express, Cavendish had to stop at a bus shelter last week after he lost the signal on his GPS device. The schoolboys however were able to point him in the correct direction for Middleham.
The town, in Wensleydale, is on the Stage 1 route and has a ruined castle that was once the favourite residence of Richard III and nowadays is also well known for being home to a number of racing stables.
Welcome to Yorkshire chief executive Gary Verity, quoted in the newspaper, said: “He couldn't get a GPS signal in Leyburn, I told him that's an occupational hazard, but these schoolboys knew the route inside out and gave him directions. Only then did they realise it was Mark Cavendish.
"He told them that he was going to win Stage 1. It gives the whole team a huge boost to know someone like Mark is so enthusiastic and so determined. He said everyone in cycling is talking about the Tour and how special it will be.
"He had a wonderful time, he was very impressed with the route and the enthusiasm of everyone he met,” he added.
Cavendish also had a look at the route of Stage 2 of the race from York to Sheffield during his two day visit to Yorkshire last week, and tweeted a picture of The Stray in Harrogate, where the finish line to the opening stage will be.
Any guesses as to where I was taking this photo yesterday? pic.twitter.com/Mm0EinFzn4
— Mark Cavendish (@MarkCavendish) May 23, 2014
He added: "Couple of days done looking at the 1st 2 stages of @letouryorkshire @letour & I'm tired! Beautiful, but very hard start to a 3 week race."
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.