Plans to give double Olympic gold medal winning cyclist Steven Burke a hero’s welcome in his home town are well underway.
Colne Town Council has unanimously agreed to give the Colne Cyclone a civic reception and parade around the town when the team pursuiter returns home from Rio.
Steven, alongside Team GB team-mates Sir Bradley Wiggins, Ed Clancy and Owain Doull cruised home in the last lap to clinch gold against Australia in a scintillating finale on Friday night, retaining the title won at London 2012 Olympic Games.
The homecoming event is likely to be held next month when the glitter from yet another successful Games has had time to settle.
Immediately after the race, Steven said: “It’s extra special because I really wanted to defend the title. We’ve had so many highs and lows but it’s all come together at the right time.
“We’ve got the best team pursuit team of all time, Ed’s a three time winner, Doull first games, first gold, and Brad with the complete career. It’s been awesome to be his team-mate.”
Sir Bradley had high praise for Steven too. He said: “For the last 12 months we’ve pretty much done everything together; training camps at altitude, early morning starts at the track, late finishes at the track before Christmas Day, all for this. We’re here and we’ve done it.
“I’ve always said that Ed (Clancy) and Burkey are two of the most under-rated athletes I have ever raced with. They are so talented at what they do and they don’t get the credit for because they are not the big road stars.
“When you’re with guys like that on the line, it makes your job a hell of a lot easier.”
Steven’s mum Sharon said: “It was absolutely fantastic, we’re over the moon and so proud of him. What an achievement.
“The race was so exciting. They did a brilliant ride. The Australians are notorious for going out fast to put the other team under pressure early on. I always thought our lads would come back strong but it was very close I must admit.
“We toasted him with champagne with family and friends and spoke to him about an hour after the race. Everybody was congratulating him and he was so happy, he really was delighted.
“Steven has worked incredibly hard over the last four years, especially the last year. Long days, three sessions a day, leaving the house at 7am and sometimes not getting back until 11pm.
“He was talking before he went about Tokyo in 2020 and speaking to him after he seems all up for it, providing he has good health.
“We would like to say a big thank you to the people of Colne, the council, Cycle Sport Pendle and everybody for their support of Steven over the last three Olympics. It has been tremendous. We are so grateful and really appreciate it.”
While the Colne Cyclone may be one of the quickest names on two wheels, he will soon be equally fast on four wheels.
The Transdev Burnley bus company has announced it is to name one of its double deckers on its flagship Witchway express route after him.
As well as Steven’s name proudly being displayed on the outside of the bus, on the inside will be the story of his road to Rio glory.
The Witchway bus route X43 links his Burnley birthplace with his hometown of Colne and the city of Manchester, where he trains at the National Cycling Centre in Stuart Street.
Transdev Burnley chief executive Alex Hornby said: “We are very proud of Steven’s great success in becoming Lancashire’s own gold medal winner at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. It’s entirely fitting that we should play our part in celebrating his momentous achievement.
“We’d certainly welcome Steven to officially name his bus when he returns with his gold medal to what, I’m certain, will be a very well deserved hero’s welcome.
“Naming a Witchway bus after Steven will help to ensure that his gold medal victory is remembered and talked about long after the Rio Games have ended.
“As soon as we heard the great news, we knew it would be the right thing to do, and our top-of-the-range Witchway express is the natural choice to carry Steven’s name across East Lancashire in double quick time!”
Steven was part of the quartet to achieve two world record times in the same day, the latter helping them to consecutive golds. It is a third Olympic medal for Steven, adding to the bronze he won in the individual pursuit in Beijing in 2008.
Steven was awarded an MBE for his services to cycling in the New Year’s Honours List in 2013 after his success at London 2012 for which a postbox in Albert Road in Colne was also painted gold honouring his efforts in his home Olympics.
Colne Town Council is now considering what to paint gold in recognition of his latest accolade.
Coun. Sarah Cockburn-Price, Chairman of Colne Town Council, said she is proud of his achievements and adding to Colne’s lustre as the Pennine Capital of Cycling.
She said: “I was watching through my fingers on Friday night. I thought it was lost but they amazingly they did it at the end and then there was all the excitement. It was unbelievable.
“It’s so lovely. We have a vibrant cycling scene locally and Steven Burke is a cycling hero. I know my son is thrilled to see him cycling and training on the roads in Pendle.
“I thought what Sir Bradley Wiggins said was a wonderful tribute and it really isn’t about one person, but the team of four sharing the labour around the track.
“We have not yet decided what to do to mark Steven’s latest gold medal. The Post Office have said the gold post boxes were a one-off but I have suggested adding gold to the bus shelters, but there has been talk of painting the cycle stands outside the library gold and putting up a cycling structure of some sort on the roundabout on North Valley Road. It’s all very exciting.
“The ceremony and parade was a no-brainer. I put it on Facebook and Twitter on Saturday and Colne Town Council has never seen a response like it. It has reached 30,000 people and had over 600 likes so to say it has struck a chord is something of an understatement.”
Mayor of Pendle Coun. Rosemary Carroll said: “I think it absolutely fantastic what Steven has achieved. He has won so much and is still young. It is great news for Pendle.
“I look forward to welcoming Steven home and giving him a rousing reception back in Pendle.”