Philippa York: Watch cyclist speak about King of the Mountains mural and how it makes her feel like Billy Connolly

Philippa York made an emotional return home to the west of Scotland on Tuesday for the official unveiling of a mural to celebrate her achievements as an elite cyclist – and then joked she felt like Billy Connolly.

York, who competed as Robert Millar, was crowned King of the Mountains in the 1984 Tour de France, the first time a British rider had won a major Tour classification.

Although denied a Grand Tour general classification triumph - Millar finished second in the 1985 and 1986 Vuelta a España and the 1987 Giro d’Italia - the impact the Scottish cyclist made on the sport was groundbreaking.

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Millar blazed a trail for the likes of Bradley Wiggins, Chris Froome, Geraint Thomas, Simon Yates and Tao Geoghegan Hart, Britons who have gone on to win Grand Tours.

Philippa York, who previously competed as Robert Millar, beside the mural in Lennoxtown which celebrates the cyclist's achievements at the first Briton to be crowned 'King of the Mountains' in the Tour de France. Picture: John Devlin

The achievements have been celebrated with a colourful mural of Millar resplendent in the polka dot jersey worn by the King of the Mountains.

It is painted on the gable end of a building owned by Campsie Golf Club at Crow Road in Lennoxtown at the gateway to the Campsie Fells, a place which resonates with the cyclist.

Millar’s remarkable stamina and skills were honed with training rides in the challenging splendour of the Campsies.

The journey extends well beyond cycling success. She transitioned to living as York and is now based in England as a successful journalist and writer.

Philippa York poses for a selfie in front of the new mural at the gateway to the Campsies. Picture: John Devlin

Speaking at the launch, she said: “It’s great. You don’t imagine you’re going to end up on a wall! It’s a bit like when I go to Glasgow and see the murals of Billy Connolly - that’s me, who’s up there!

“Hopefully it inspires more people to go cycling. Cyclists come from everywhere. I started cycling because I wanted to get out of the city and see things. I didn’t intend to be a racer. You can enjoy cycling and go whatever speed you want to go. For me it was a way to see outside of where I was, then I ended up racing, and history was made.

“I’ve noticed already people coming to have their picture taken at the mural and enjoy a day out in the fresh air. It’s fantastic.”

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Stunning mural celebrates the incredible achievements of Scotland's 'King of the...
Philippa York with members of the Johnstone Wheelers Cycling Club. Picture: John Devlin

The mural, based on a photograph by Graham Watson and funded by East Dunbartonshire Council, was created by Scottish street artist Rogue Oner (aka Bobby McNamara) and stems from an idea from Drew Wilson, a successful cyclist who represented Scotland at three Commonwealth Games.

Councillor Vaughan Moody, joint leader of East Dunbartonshire Council, said, “It’s an honour to help officially unveil the mural, which is a stunning tribute to a real sporting legend. I hope Philippa - and this work of art - help to inspire people of all ages to get out and about in East Dunbartonshire, and to visit the area.”

Councillor Andrew Polson, also joint leader, added: “The amazing mural is already attracting visitors of all ages and has become a tourist attraction in its own right. We have a wonderful array of natural and built amenities in East Dunbartonshire - which inform, inspire and also support the local economy.”

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Philippa York, front right, rides out with cyclists on the roads near the Campsie Fells where she used to train. Picture: John Devlin

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Robert Millar in Paris in 1984 with the King of the Mountains' red and white polka dot jersey for the best climber in the Tour de France. Picture: AFP via Getty Images
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