A WHALLEY man played a crucial role behind the scenes of this year’s Tour de France.
Thirty-year-old Oli Cookson worked alongside the likes of Olympic gold medallist Bradley Wiggins – before he crashed out of the tour with a broken collar bone – as part of the Sky Pro Cycling team helping to support the riders.
A former pupil of Ribblesdale High School Technology College and Clitheroe Royal Grammar Sixth Form, Oli helped to compile vital pre-race briefings to help the athletes hit their best during each stage of the race. This information ranged from highlighting tricky turns, difficult winds and the best riding position on the road.
Attending the likes of the Giro d‘Italia and the Tour of Catalonia, Oli has travelled all across Europe since joining the Sky team last year.
He said: “Being at the top end of an elite sport is something that I’ve dreamt of my whole life. It’s better than working for Man United or Ferrari! I’ve been involved in cycling all my life. I’ve been racing since I was nine and know a lot about the people involved in the sport.”
Currently living by the picturesque Lake Garda area in Northern Italy, he left the UK in 2005 after finishing his master’s degree at Manchester University to work in Spain as an urban architect. There, he became fluent in Spanish and is now picking up Italian.
“I think it was my love of cycling and my language skills that got me to where I am now,” he said.
“It’s just great working with people in the Sky team as it’s a really close team and everyone depends on each other to perform at our best.
“It’s really challenging delivering information to keep the athletes at the top of their game.”
This year, Sky changed the colour of their logo from blue to green to show support for the Sky Rainforest Rescue.
“It was quite an effort by all the engineers and other staff to have all the kit, bikes and vehicles changed ready for the race, but it’s really good that the team are supporting a scheme like this I think,” he added.