NORTH YORKSHIRE cyclist Scott Thwaites admits competing in this year's Tour de France would be a dream come true.
Thwaites, who hails from in Burley-in-Wharefdale, near Otley, rides for NetApp-Endura, who have been given a wild-card entry into the world's greatest cycle race, which starts with an opening stage between Leeds and Harrogate on July 5.
Thwaites is in his second season with the German team, and is hoping to get the nod to ride on his own doorstep.
The 24-year-old said: “I’m still quite young but I can’t see the Tour coming back here to Yorkshire in my cycling career.
“It would great for me because it’s obviously the biggest race any cyclist dreams of competing in.
“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and to be at the level where I have a chance of being involved is incredible. For it to start in my hometown makes it extra special for me.”
A talented cricketer and footballer as a youngster, Thwaites competed in triathlon before focusing on cycling, initially in cyclo-cross and mountain biking.
He eventually turned to the road, predominantly in criterium races, before signing his first professional contract with Endura Racing in 2010.
His big breakthrough came in 2011, when he won the prestigious Lincoln GP, which was followed by an impressive victory in the National Under-23 Road Race Championships, before going on to represent Great Britain at the World Championships in Denmark.
In 2013, he joined Team NetApp-Endura, resulting in a step up to Pro Continental level.
He coped with the transition and enjoyed a consistent season, the highlights coming at the Tours of Qinghai Lake (where he was second in stage ten and Britain (where he finished in the top eight on stage four).
He was also part of NetApp-Endura’s team in the recent Tour of California – yet home is where the heart is for the proud Yorkshireman.
Thwaites added: “I’m based in Leeds and because my racing schedule is so hectic, I don't really have time to do anything else.
“Everything is focused solely on cycling so when I get up I have a routine – breakfast and head out on my bike. I have a coach who plans my training, so I stick to that as much as I can, weather permitting.
“I also work on things that maybe a lot of people don’t really know about, such as the core stability work and the other exercises that you have to do to keep your body in good shape for racing.
“I usually head up to the Wharfe Valley because it’s a great place to train, and there are plenty of cyclists and groups that you can train with.
“I like to cycle with other people whenever I can and it’s nice to get out in a group. The social side of cycling has always appealed to me.”
And like many an aspiring cycling great, Thwaites has always followed the Tour.
He said: “When I was a youngster I went on a few cycling trips to the Alps. But now I’m a bit older and a professional, I’m not really a climber any more.
“I don’t dream of riding up the big mountains, I dream of winning sprints, which is a bit different.
“But the greatness of the race, riding all around France and up these massive climbs that you just don’t have in Britain, drew me to the Tour. I would love to compete in it.”