The brains behind the incredible summer of success in British cycling has been honoured with the Freedom of the Borough of Erewash.
Ilkeston’s very own Dave Brailsford, who oversaw Team GB’s seven gold medals in cycling and the first British winner of the Tour de France, said he was ‘humbled’ to receive the award.
Accepting the honour, which has only given out a couple of times in the last two decades, he said: “It’s quite humbling really.
“I’m very lucky that I travel around the world and see some fantastic places but there’s nothing like coming home .
“When I come home it’s coming back to normality.”
Speaking to the Advertiser, Dave, 48, said being recognised by his home borough was ‘a very touching thing’.
“And when you realise it’s something very scarce, it makes it more important,” he added.
One of his highlights of the year, he said, was when the Tour of Britain came through Ilkeston.
Hundreds of townsfolk lined the route in September to wave the cyclists on, hot on the heels of their Olympic success.
“To be in the team car with Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish and all the big names was very, very special to me.
“I was pointing out all the local landmarks to them, like ‘there’s my local chippy’ – it was great.”
He revealed that, when at home, he loves to get on his bike around Ilkeston and the wider Derbyshire area.
“It’s a fantastic area to go cycling,” he said.
“I often go up towards Ambergate, Wirksworth and off up into the Peaks and I love all the little alleyways you get in this part of the world – they’re great to ride along.”
Dave lives with his partner Lisa and daughter Millie, who were there to support him at the ceremony at West Park Leisure Centre in Long Eaton.
As was his neighbour Pete Bellini, of Bellini’s deli off Heanor Road, riders from Long Eaton’s Velo Club and members of the Erewash Youth Forum.
Josh Randall, 14, of Kirk Hallam Community, Technology and Sports College, said: “He’s probably a role model for lots of kids who want to follow cycling. He shows how much we can do if we put out minds to it.”
When asked if he thinks his achievements have inspired young people to take up cycling, modest Dave, who picked up the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Coach award earlier this month, said: “I would like to think that has happened in all sports, not just cycling.
“We have tapped into the power of sport and shown it can give youngsters role models.”
He praised Ilkeston FC’s academy, set up to help nurture a new generation of footballing talent: “What a great initiative,” he said.
Mayor of Erewash Cllr Jennifer Hull presented him with the award alongside council leader Cllr Chris Corbett, who said: “Dave Brailsford and the rest of the Team GB have shown that if you recognise talent and nurture it we can win.”