ITV4 is providing full coverage of this year’s Tour de France, and will have a new pundit on board for the rest of the race, Philippa York. You may not have heard of her, but she’s won more stages of cycling’s biggest race than you ever will, and is also the first Briton to have won a jersey there, taking the mountains classification in 1984.
She used to go by the name Robert Millar, and won three Tour de France stages in her career as well as stages in the Vuelta a Espana and Giro d’Italia, making her a member of a very exclusive club.
In 1985, York was arguably the strongest rider in the Vuelta and perhaps would have won the overall but for Spanish riders from different teams coming together to ensure a home winner and thwart her efforts.
York is a columnist on Cyclingnews.com, and blogged there today about her role in ITV4’s commentary team, which she described as “a very exciting prospect” and her decision to go public about her transition.
She wrote: “To be asked to be one of their experts for certain key moments is a sign that we have moved on in terms of wishing to really understand the complexities involved in cycling, and I’m keen to share my experience of how endlessly fascinating and demanding professional bike racing can be.
“The mention of progress and moving on brings me to a much more personal subject concerning the journey I, and those around me, embarked upon at the start of this millennium. The outcome of that journey has meant that for a considerable time now I have lived as Philippa.
“As much as I've guarded my privacy over the years there are a few, I believe obvious, reasons to why I haven't had a public ‘image’ since I transitioned.
“Gratifyingly, times have moved on from ten years ago when my family, friends and I were subjected to the archaic views and prejudice that some people and certain sections of the tabloid media held.”
The 58-year-old continued: “Thankfully gender issues are no longer a subject of such ignorance and intolerance, there's a much better acceptance and understanding.
“The steps taken over a prolonged period under the watchful eye of the medical profession to complete the transition from one gender to another can be difficult and are always only taken after much soul searching and anguish.
“And, although the end result is seen as a happier, more stable place, the emotions encountered to get there make for some very vulnerable periods.”
York added: “I really am delighted to have accepted this new challenge with ITV4; I’m looking forward to the racing immensely and in terms of my personal and professional development I think this is the right time to return to a more active role in cycling too – the sport I've always loved.”
We wish her all the best with it, and welcome back.
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