ONE of the greatest moments of Pete Williams’ career came this summer as he sped down Skipton High Street, cheered on by huge crowds, leading a world-class field of cyclists in the Tour de Yorkshire.

Now he’s preparing to race in front of home crowds once again as he tackles the fast and furious Yorkshire Housing Skipton Cycle Races on July 5.

“You can go and do these races all over the world but when your friends and family are shouting your name it’s pretty special,” said Williams, who rides for the British professional team ONE Pro Cycling.

Yorkshire Housing Skipton Cycle Races is expected to attract thousands to the High Street to see the spectacle of elite riders zooming round a short town centre circuit at incredible speeds.

Craven District Council launched the races in 2015 and they were such a success that British Cycling decided to include the event as part of their prestigious Elite Criterium Series in 2016 and again this year – meaning it will be televised.

Williams said: “I always enjoy doing the circuit races with the crowds and particularly with the home crowds in Skipton. Obviously there’s going to be a lot of fast guys so it’ll be a pretty hard, fast race.”

He came close to winning the inaugural race in 2015, but was just pipped to the line by former Ermysted’s pupil Scott Thwaites.

However 2015 also saw one of Pete’s major triumphs, winning the Mountain and Sprints jerseys in the Tour of Britain.

He began cycling at a young age, mountain biking with his family. “I always followed the Tour de France on TV when I was little, and when I was at school there were some youth races on in the local park that I took part in and it all kicked off from there,” he said.

He grew up in Lancashire but has been living in Embsay since 2011.

“I’ve been racing since 2002, I started as a youth in the under-16s and then I raced as a junior on the road and was part of the British Cycling programme,” he said. “I’ve raced in sponsored teams as an elite since I was 18. I finished uni and I’ve raced since 2008 as a full time professional.

“Highlights have been winning jerseys in the Tour of Britain, which is a massive race, especially for a British cyclist. The Tour de Yorkshire is always a highlight, with the massive crowds and it being a home race for me.

"One of the best moments was riding down Skipton High Street this year as the first rider down.”

To experience moments like that takes a lot of hard work – up to around 30 hours in the saddle each week during heavy training periods. “During the season it’s pretty full on, you’re racing several times a week,” he said.

“We have to look at what we’re eating – it’s the fuel for your engine. You’ve got to put the right things in to get the best out of yourself. We have a nutritionist in the team who helps us all – it’s just being sensible really. Before a long hard race we eat a lot of carbohydrates, pasta and rice, and we have a lot of protein for recovery.

"I try to stay away from sugary and fatty foods. Breakfast is quite important; we eat a lot of porridge in the mornings before races, and a lot of eggs for the protein content. A typical evening meal will be chicken, rice and veg.”

There isn’t much time for anything else when he’s racing, but there are a couple of months at the end of each season where he gets to relax – usually by doing different types of exercise.

“During the season cycling takes over. Cycling fitness is pretty specific so if you do anything out of the norm, your muscles don’t like it and you can get injured,” he said.

“During the off season I like to do as much as possible – walking up the fells, going skiing, other outdoor sports. I do quite a lot of mountain biking during the off season too.

"The cycling season runs from February to September/October so we usually have a couple of months where we can take a bit of time out.”

His future ambitions are fairly simple – he wants to help the ONE Pro Cycling team get better and better. “I just want to continue enjoying racing and build on what I’ve achieved so far,” he said.

Williams is also going to find time to get married at the end of this season. “Hopefully we’ll be able to go on our honeymoon without having to take a bike with me, so that’ll be quite nice,” he said.

Skipton Cycle Races take place on Wednesday, July 5 in Skipton Town Centre, following a 1km circuit from Skipton High Street, along Water Street, Coach Street, Swadford Street and back up the High Street.

There will be under-12 fun races from 6pm to 6.30pm, followed by Under-14 and Under-16 youth races from 6.45pm to 7.30pm, and the HSBC National Circuit Series elite men’s race will take place from 8pm to 9pm. Spectating is free.

The races are supported by Skipton Town Partnership and organised by Craven District Council