Dave Miller and, right, in his racing days
Dave Miller and, right, in his racing days

A former professional cyclist who entered the sport after watching a race in Newark said the Tour of Britain could inspire a new generation.

Mr Dave Miller was a schoolboy when he watched Sid Barras win the professional road race in 1972.

Mr Miller, now 56, later turned professional with the Raleigh team in 1984 before riding for American outfit Spenco, claiming the British title the following year.

A life member of Newark Castle Cycling Club, Mr Miller believes the stage-four finish in the town on September 6 could provide the same incentive to youngsters as the one that he experienced.

“For Newark to be chosen for a stage in the Tour of Britain is a coup,” said Mr Miller.

“It would be great if this race could inspire someone who could go on to become our own Mark Cavendish.

“I rode the Tour of Britain twice and it never went anywhere near Newark. Riding in my home town would have been the ultimate (experience).

“We also want to encourage more people to take up cycling as it’s a healthy sport and gets people out and about.”

'A bit like a circus on wheels'

Mr Miller said the profile of the sport had risen significantly during the past decade, with riders like Cavendish plus Tour de France winners Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome becoming household names.

He said those attending the course on September 6 could expect an action-packed day.

“There is so much excitement — not just when the riders come through, but the expectation of it all,” he said.

“It is a bit like a circus on wheels.

“It is a sport where you can get really close up to the riders.

“In our day you were a bit of an outcast if you took up cycling but that has changed. Someone shouted ‘Allez, Wiggo!’ when I was on my bike recently.

“I hope that Newark draws the same crowds that everywhere else does on the tour.

“Top-name riders who competed in the Tour de Yorkshire later brought back their families to the area because they liked it so much, so I hope riders and visitors to the area will do the same.

“I believe Newark will get about 45 minutes’ worth of time on the television broadcast so it will really show off the area to the world.”

'Sprints are a fight to the finish'

Mr Miller said he expected a sprint finish at the conclusion of the stage on Farndon Road, next to Sconce and Devon Park, but warned windy conditions could affect the race.

“Although the part of the race from Retford to Newark is flat, the wind could do a lot of damage,” he said.

“If there are cross-winds then the race could get split to pieces. Winds do as much damage as mountains and teams can really panic.

“I expect a sprint finish into Newark but there are so many factors like the conditions and who is leading the race at the time.

“If that happens then it will be an exciting conclusion to the stage. Sprints are a fight to the finish and sprinters can be pretty ruthless.

“Although if the riders dodge potholes when they are racing around town, that will be a miracle.”