Tuesday, April 1, 2014

News: Badger sets the pace on Planet X

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When Rotherham-based Planet X, the second biggest bike assembler in the UK, was called upon by the organisers of the Yorkshire Grand Départ of the Tour de France to supply some Yorkshire bikes for a press event, little did they know that they would end up being ridden by Bernard Hinault, the five time winner of the historic cycle race.

With headquarters and warehousing at Templeborough, Planet X is still run by riders, for riders, and whilst not officially involved, it has been gearing up for the largest and most watched annual sporting event in the world taking place on its doorstep.

The Grand Départ is the opening of the race of the Tour de France and is regularly held outside France to promote the event and the sport of cycling. Two stages will take place in Yorkshire in July, taking in spectacular cities and countryside between Leeds and Harrogate in Stage 1 and York to Sheffield in Stage 2.

It is conservatively estimated that the economic impact of hosting the Grand Départ will be worth approximately £100m to the Yorkshire economy.

To mark 100 days before the start of the Grand Départ, organisers descended on Cragg Vale, England's longest continuous uphill climb, which will feature on Stage 2 of the race.

Bernard Hinault was invited along as five times Tour de France winner and 28 time stage winner. He is one of only five men to have won all of the grand tours, and the only man ever to have won each tour more than once.

After taking interviews with the world's media, Hinault, nicknamed Le Blaireau - The Badger, was presented with his Planet X "Mondo" bike. The model is one of Planet X's most advanced road frames available and combines a pro-level carbon frame with an accessible price.

A spokesperson from Planet X explained: "The original idea had been to gather a few local cyclists for a bit of a group ride up to the top, make it look good for the cameras. But since the word had got out the event had grown beyond all proportions and there were as many as 100 riding up the hill in a group. Hinault was cruising on the Mondo, making it look easy. The police had to close the road off, the media were all scrapping for the best shots and everyone was just trying to keep up.

"All in all it was an incredible day. When you consider that we didn't really know what was about to happen it was truly a bizarre experience to find ourselves at the centre of such a massive media event. Hinault had that aura that all great sportspeople do and was undoubtedly the centre of attention.

"But the most powerful aspect of the day and the thing that I'll take away from it was the excitement and enthusiasm for the Tour. Here we had people from all walks of life from four years old to their late eighties, all of them so excited just to be there. There may still be 100 days to go until the Tour kicks off, but if this was anything to go by, the event is going to be massive, and a huge amount of fun."

On a previous visit to the county, Hinault said: "The passion for the Tour is fantastic. The enthusiasm here is fabulous. You can sense that people really want Le Tour to come to Yorkshire and are determined to show the whole world what Yorkshire stands for."

Bernard Hinault is pictured leading the pack alongside Rotherham cycling professionals Dean and Russell Downing, who are ambassadors for the Yorkshire Grand Départ of the Tour de France.

Planet X website
Le Tour Yorkshire website

Images: Planet X

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