Tour’s return brings back special memories for cyclist Bill
03 Sep 2019 ARCHIVED (over 3 months old) - view latest news
The arrival of the Tour of Britain in the county in just over a week, is set to bring back special memories for one local resident who rode in the Tour in 1956.
Cramlington resident Bill Wright, now 83 years of age, will be out celebrating and cheering on the riders as they race through the outskirts of his home community of Northburn on Monday 9 September.
Cycling enthusiast Bill was just 20 years old when he took part in the Tour of Britain which even then was the biggest event on the cycling calendar. “Way back then it is not the international event it is now, but it was equally gruelling, if not more so. The race took place over eight days and the first day we raced from Skegness to Manchester. The race eventually finished in Southsea.
“We didn’t have helmets or wear lycra, but we had the best bikes available at that time and we trained hard. It was predominantly British cyclists who took part in the race. W
e had a Welsh team, a Scottish team and an Army team along with all the teams representing their areas of England.
“I was the youngest member of the North of England Team which won the team event and local lad Richard McNeil of Wallsend was the overall winner so it was a great race for us with some very special and proud memories.”
All these years on cycling is still in Bill’s blood. “I still have a little cycle when the weather invites me out and each Friday I meet up with my old cycling buddies for a coffee and chat. My friends are encouraging me to get an electrical assist bike so that is something I am considering. My mind is still willing, but like anyone of my age I have my limitations. ”
Northumberland County Councillor and Ward Councillor for Cramlington Wayne Daley said: “When I sent out a flier to say that the Tour was coming to Cramlington, Bill dropped me an email to say he was delighted the race would be coming right past his community and that he would be out supporting the riders. It’s fascinating to hear Bill’s story and I know he still has a keepsake programme from the event among his many souvenirs from his bike racing days.”
This year the county is hosting Stage Three of the prestigious OVO Energy Tour of Britain which will see the world’s top riders and teams contesting a 182 kilometre route.
The race will start in Berwick, crossing the Grade 1 listed Berwick Bridge before heading along the Tweed Valley and on to Ford and Wooler. The route will then head along the Northumberland Coast before heading through Amble, Morpeth, Bedlington and Cramlington. The race will travel to Whitley Bay and Tynemouth and culminate in a dramatic finish on Grey Street in Newcastle.
For all you need to know about the race including full route details and timings go to www.northoftyne-tob.co.uk