When Ian Bibby started cycling only one man and his dog would watch from the sidelines – now he is performing in front of tens of thousands.
The Preston road specialist brought the curtain down on his historic Tour de Yorkshire, riding the gruelling journey from Halifax to Leeds in the Tour’s maiden fourth stage at the weekend.
He did so in some style too, crossing the line third behind breakaway leader Stephane Rossetto and Greg van Avermaet – the latter taking home the Yorkshire Bank and Yorkshire Bank Bike Libraries winner’s jersey.
For Bibby however the abiding memories will come from those at the roadside, at a loss to explain just how much support he received throughout the four-day extravaganza.
“It has been absolutely incredible, it’s hard to believe that this is the UK,” said Bibby, sixth in the overall standings.
“When I was cycling as a kid on the roads, there were about three people coming to watch you and even five years ago, at the Tour of Britain, I was thinking that was a lot.
“But this is unbelievable, just seeing the amount of people there are and have been throughout. There aren’t many sports that you can go to for free and get that kind of atmosphere, it’s crazy.
“It can keep growing as well, give it a few more years. At least we hope so, this has got bigger since it first started in 2015 and if that continues then it’s going to be great for British cycling.”
The achievement was all the more impressive for Bibby given that he hadn’t felt he had it in the legs before taking to the Yorkshire roads.
But come the final charge to Leeds he looked the fittest of the bunch, the JLT Condor rider leading the way for his team in the closing stages.
So much so that by the time the finish line was in sight, he could go full speed ahead in a trademark sprint to take third in the race and sixth in the general classification, as the leading Brit.
“It was a good day that, I was expecting not to feel very good because I hadn’t done an awful lot recently,” he said.
“But I set off, the lads did brilliantly to position me really well for the last sprint which was massive.
“I hung on for grim death going over one of the hills, that’s probably what did it for me – after a hard day I know I usually have a good finish and I was able to do it despite being boxed in.”
Yorkshire Bank is an Official Partner of the Tour de Yorkshire and the ground-breaking Yorkshire Bank Bike Libraries initiative. Visit www.ybonline.co.uk/tdy