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Philippa York would have traded cycling career to have lived as a woman from a younger age

BBC TV interview sees York return to Glasgow to meet former mentor for first time in 20 years

Philippa York – formerly Robert Millar – has told the BBC that she would have transitioned in her teenage years had she known then what she knows now. After only learning that she could transition in her 20s, York decided to wait until after her cycling career was over.

As Millar, York won stages in all three Grand Tours, took the mountains classification in the 1984 Tour de France and was runner-up in both the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a Espana.

She went public about her transition in July shortly before joining the ITV4 Tour de France commentary team.

However, she said she would have traded her racing career for an earlier transition, had she known it were an option: "If I had the information that is available now to me back then, when I was on the cusp of trying to make a decision, I would have chosen to transition and not become a cyclist or whatever I became.

"But I realised it wasn't a practical thing, so I decided to wait until my career was over and, if I still felt the same, I'd do something about it. The thing that counts the most is not how famous are you going to be, it's how happy, and that counts more for me than any kind of success."

Although she said there had been days when she was ‘struggling with it,’ she adds that competitive cycling would often cover some of the anguish she felt.

"In professional sport there is no real place for emotions. That whole emotional system, I just turned it off and I operated like a robot. I would turn off my personal life while I did races and when I stopped the races I would have a couple of hours where I could turn back into what I call my normal person.

"I deal with my transition in two parts: Robert was the cyclist and Philippa isn't the athlete – she doesn't do any competitions. I'm happy - not perfectly happy, because I don't think perfection exists, but I'm fairly stable where I am and happy."

As well as discussing her gender change, York’s first TV interview also sees her return to Glasgow where she met former professional cyclist Billy Bilsland, who guided her in her early career but hadn’t met her in 20 years.

She also visited Sir Chris Hoy at the velodrome that bears his name, where both cyclists reveal their admiration for one another.

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