Rhondda AM Leanne Wood said the legacy of Geraint Thomas’s Tour de France win should reverberate around the whole of Wales.
In response to some news reports saying a fitting legacy of the historic triumph would be an improvement of cycling paths in Cardiff – the birthplace of Thomas – the Plaid Cymru Leader said the benefits should be felt across Wales.
Thomas, who secured cycling’s most prestigious prize in Paris over the weekend, often uses the steep climbs of the Bwlch and Rhigos mountains with fellow Welshman and Sky team mate Luke Rowe to prepare for major cycling events.
“Geraint’s magnificent tour win has been celebrated the length and breadth of Wales,” said Ms Wood. “It is an achievement that will inspire people of all ages to get on a bike and get fit.
“This tour win began decades ago when a young boy went to his local cycle club in Cardiff with a lot of passion and determination and was coached and encouraged by dedicated volunteers. Many youngsters will now have that same passion and determination after witnessing Thomas’s win. Clubs like Bike Doctor in the Rhondda have an important part to play in continuing to nurture young cyclists.
“In terms of creating a legacy of cycling infrastructure, the Welsh Government and local authorities need to be focusing their attention on improving the conditions for cyclists, and not just in the capitol city. All that new-found enthusiasm will eventually disappear if people feel they cannot get around safely on their bikes.
“For example, in the Rhondda we don’t have a cycle path for most of the Fawr. Taking to your bike on some of the narrow, traffic congested roads running north and south of that valley is often not for the faint-hearted. We could, and should, be doing more if Wales is to reach it potential as a cycling destination; not just for the people of Wales but for cycling tourists from all over the world.
“I am looking to bring together various groups in the Rhondda in the hope of creating a joined up cycling network that caters for all forms of cycling so watch this space.”
Ms Wood added: “Wales has been firmly placed on the map in the cycling world after this Tour de France. To see so many Welsh flags flying in the Champs-Élysées at the tour finale was a fantastic sight.
“It would be great now if we could bring a stage of the Tour de France to Wales. This is something that Plaid Cymru proposed in our election manifestos of 2015 and 2016. It is now down to the Welsh Government to make it happen if they share the ambition for our nation that we have in Plaid Cymru.”