Britain’s Olympic hero Sir Chris Hoy MBE was back in the saddle at the Goodwood Revival – on a very different kind of bike from the one the six-times Olympic cycling champion is used to.
Sir Chris swapped sleek carbon-fibre racing machine for a chunky 1920s steel bike to lead out 72 riders for a two-lap demonstration to mark a cycling milestone: this year’s 100th running of the Tour de France.
Sir Chris – who also raced a Mini Cooper S over the Revival weekend –was cheered around the circuit in the celebration of the great French road race that brought a huge dose of joie de vivre to West Sussex.
A traditional caravanne of support vehicles, classic French cars and rowdy French characters followed the peloton around the circuit, capturing the noise and passion that characterises every running of the great race, the first of which was run in 1903.
The 72 riders were all on pre-1966 Tour de France-style bikes and wearing period garb. They set off from the village square of Aubigny, a fictional community created for Revival and complete with cafes, bars, French resistance fighters – and of course a bicycle shop.
Proprietor of Aubigny’s Garage de Bicyclettes, Tim Gunn, who provided Sir Chris Hoy’s bike, said: “The Tour de France is all about passion and heroism and recreating it at the Goodwood Revival has made a wonderful spectacle.
“The bike Sir Chris was riding has very little in common with his racing machine, apart from two wheels and a saddle. But I am sure he enjoyed it. To ride these old Tour de France bikes makes you feel like a hero. It’s a great honour to see Sir Chris, a true hero already, getting a taste of what cycle racing of yesterday was all about.”