HOLDSWORTH is back in professional cycling and the Tour de Yorkshire will mark a proud moment for the county’s own team.

After a 40 year break, the Holdsworth name is emblazoned on a racing bike, with the team competing at UCI Continental level.

Led by Russ Downing, the former Sky and most recently JLT-Condor rider, the team are looking to put their name in the spotlight next month.

Downing, 39, said he was as hungry as ever and was looking forward to passing on his advice and expertise to the younger members of the squad.

“I am still fighting fit, age is ticking along nicely, I am 40 in the middle of the year,” he said. “My head is still in it, it’s just whether my body is still up to it and if I can still compete.

“I don’t just want to fade out and become a normal bike rider. I want to still be competitive and help the boys out and get a chance on my day.

“The last couple of years I have been at JLT helping some of the youngsters out there, this year I will be doing more of the same, but I may be able to sneak an opportunity myself.”

Team-mate Jake Womersley has some history of his own, being the grandson of the great Brian Robinson, the first British winner of a stage in the Tour de France.

“Growing up I heard stories about him, I never obviously saw him race but he is an inspiration,” he said. “I also watched my auntie at cyclocross events at world level and that’s where I started off. It was a bit of a family thing really, we were all interested in cycling.”

Womersley said the team could not wait to get racing under way. “It will be a very big moment. It was the team’s aim to get selected for the Tour de Yorkshire and now we are in it we have to perform so we get invited back again,” he said.

“For us, we have to be realistic, we are not going for the overall win, we are going more for a sprint, maybe a KOM (King of the Mountain), just get in the breakaways and get the Holdsworth jersey out there.”

Downing said the Tour de Yorkshire now had a reputation across Europe and beyond.

“When the Tour de France came here it opened everybody’s eyes to how beautiful and how great riding a bike in Yorkshire was. Since the Tour de Yorkshire came the year after that it has grown from strength to strength.

“The guys at the Tour de Yorkshire have done a great job of taking it to where it is. There’s an extra day this year so that makes it even better.”