A GROUP of 40 European cycling enthusiasts took on some of North Yorkshire’s toughest roads after being inspired by the 2014 Tour de France.

Proving the legacy of the Grand Depart is still bearing fruit, riders from France, Spain, Germany, the Czech Republic and a solitary Englishman enjoyed a six-day visit, which included a stay in York, having cycled in and out of the Minster city.

The members of the Amicale Euro Cyclotourisme, who were founded in 2000, were also met at Boroughbridge by Wigginton cyclists Ann and Keith Benton.

Aiming to encourage European friendship and understanding, the group have criss-crossed the continent from Stockholm to Athens and Lisbon to Prague.

Having been seduced by the televised Yorkshire stages of the world’s most-famous race three years ago, a trip to the White Rose county became uppermost on their bucket list and they fitted in a visit to the National Railway Museum, as well as walking the City Walls and shopping for souvenirs before completing the last leg of the trip by returning to their starting point of Beverley, where they had been given a send-off by the mayor.

Ray Smith, from Wakefield, rides regularly with the group, and organised the tour, which also took in the Wolds, the North York

Moors, and the Dales, including an ascent of the Buttertubs Pass.

The group were addressed at a presentation ceremony by Keith Benton, president of ‘Les Randonneurs Mondiaux’, the international long-distance cycling organisation, before he conducted the large group out of York.

Following in the wheel tracks of the professional peleton, all the riders were entranced by the beauty and variety of Yorkshire’s landscapes, if somewhat shocked by the steepness of so many of the hills, in contrast to the longer, but relatively gentle, slopes of the Alps and Pyrenees.

They were also delighted by the friendliness and hospitality of the many Yorkshire folk they met during the week.

The six-day route incorporated rides from Beverley to Whitby, Whitby to Osmotherley, Osmotherley to Reeth to Malham, Malham to Mytholmroyd to Malham, Malham to York and York to Beverley and, although the group includes past champions, the ride favoured leisure, tourism and companionship on the road.