Ahead of the Tour de Yorkshire starting today, defending champion Thomas Voeckler helped Yorkshire Bank Bike Libraries mark a milestone as he handed over the 5,000th bike to the initiative.
Launched after Yorkshire hosted the Grand Départ of the Tour de France in 2014, last year alone 36,000 children were able to ride a bike thanks to the Yorkshire Bank Bike Libraries.
Voeckler said: “When they asked me to come and give the 5,000th bike to the Yorkshire Bank Bike Libraries I said yes immediately because it’s something that stays after the events like the Tour de Yorkshire or the Grand Depart of the Tour de France in 2014.
“This is something for the kids because not all parents can afford to buy a bike for their kids, and I’m really impressed by 36,000 kids riding bikes thanks to the Yorkshire Bank Bike Libraries, it’s a really great project and I think it’s a really good thing.
“For young children riding a bike should be a right. It is like swimming, everybody should be able to ride a bike. We can see that’s not the case, so these kinds of schemes like the Yorkshire Bank Bike Libraries are really a great thing.”
Aged 37, the Direct Energie rider will retire after this summer’s Tour de France, a race in which he has twice had memorable stints in the yellow jersey, including coming within two days of taking it all the way to Paris in 2011.
Today’s opening stage of the Tour de Yorkshire finishes in Scarborough, where the race ended last year with Voeckler beating Nicolas Roche, then with Team Sky, in a two-up sprint to the line as he clinched the title.
Thomas Voeckler was speaking at Richmond Hill Primary School, a Yorkshire Bank Bike Library in Leeds. For more information on Yorkshire Bank Bike Libraries please visit www.ybonline.co.uk/bikelibraries.
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.