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Tour de France cycling star rides through Highlands in The Great Tour fundraiser

By Calum MacLeod

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Phillippa York cycles through Fife on her way to the Highlands.
Phillippa York cycles through Fife on her way to the Highlands.

ONE of the greatest names in Scottish cycling is asking fellow riders to join her on a charity challenge around the Highlands.

Phillipa "Pippa" York, who as Robert Millar became the first Briton to be crowned King of the Mountains in the sport's most famous event, the Tour de France, is making a rare visit to the Highlands as part of the 1750km Scottish leg of The Great Tour fundraising journey around the coast of Britain.

Ms York, who now lives in Dorset and is raising money for a children's hospice in the area, will arrive in Inverness on Friday, July 24, and is encouraging local cyclists to join her on the next leg of the journey.

She will leave from Caledonian Stadium at 8.30am on Saturday, July 25, to begin the next stage of her journey, an almost 100km ride to Dornoch.

There will be be further opportunities to join Ms York on the Highland leg of the journey, with stages beginning at the same time at Dornoch, Wick, Tongue, Scourie, Ullapool, Gairloch and Applecross over the next seven days.

For former Commonwealth Games cyclist and more recently Arctic and Sahara ultra marathon competitor Roddy Riddle, Ms York's Highland journey provides a rare opportunity to join a cycling legend on the road.

"He's done it all," Mr Riddle said.

"He finished second in the Tour of Spain and fourth in the Tour de France and was the first Scot to be named King of the Mountains."

Mr Riddle, who co-owns Highland bike shop Bikes of Inverness, added that Ms York had been one of his own inspirations as a cyclist, and as a 14 year old had asked him about his cycling careet via a magazine.

He has since met the cycling star on a number of occasions. Though he will not be able to join Ms York on her Highland journey, Mr Riddle believes that local clubs and riders will be happy to keep Ms Young company on her trip around the region.

"I believe she has got quite and entourage following her," Mr Riddle added.

"Some of my mates joined her on the Edinburgh leg and there were quite a few there.

"If you are a local club or rider, she is also happy to ride the leg in your jersey for a donation to charity."

Speaking before the start of her challenge, Glasgow-born Ms York said that this year's Tour of Britain was as much about involving local communities as about performance.

“It's a social event so we won't be going fast!" she promised.

“Everyone has become aware of the health aspects of cycling, be that physical or mental, during Covid-19. We've all noticed we need to take better care of ourselves and others.

"That's why I'm riding part of the overall route, to encourage people to get out on their bikes, enjoy the fresh air and forget some of their worries. I'm also riding to raise funds for Julia's House, which is a charity which supports the families of children and young adults with life limiting or ending conditions. They can't have their usual promotion and fundraising events at the moment so if I can help in a small way that's good.”

More information on Pippa York’s fundraising can be found via her JustGiving page

For more information on The Great Tour, visit www.thegreattour.co.uk

Phillipa York's Highland itinerary

Saturday July 25 –Inverness to Dornoch, 97km. Leave from Tulloch Caledonian Stadium.

Sunday July 26 – Dornoch to Wick 107.5km. Leave from Golf Road, Dornoch.

Monday July 27 – Wick to Tongue 135km. Leave from Harbour Quay, Wick.

Tuesday July 28 – Tongue to Scourie 86.5km. Leave from Tongue House.

Wednesday July 29 – Scourie to Ullapool 104km. Leave from Scourie Caravan Park.

Thursday July 30 – Ullapool to Gairloch 90km.Leave from Ullapool Ferry Terminal.

Friday July 31 – Gairloch to Applecross 100km. Leave from Aultbea & Gairloch Medical practice, Gairloch.

Saturday, August 1 – Applecross to Mallaig 108.5km. Leave from Shore Street, Applecross.

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