A doctor is gearing up for a homecoming when the Tour of Britain rides into town.
Richard Usher, 58, is medical director for Team Sky, the champion cycling squad which just won the Tour de France.
He will be on board a support vehicle following the elite cyclists as they pedal around Macclesfield and the surrounding villages when the tour hits on Tuesday, September 6.
Richard, who lives in Sutton with his wife Gill, is a former GP based at Cumberland House in Macclesfield and has been with Team Sky since 2011.
He said: “Last year I spent 120 days away from home, which is tough. Luckily I love my job and have great support from my family.
“I am really excited that the tour will be passing through my home town. I will be looking for friends and family out of the team car. I would urge everyone to get out and cheer on the riders.”
Richard’s journey to be part of one of the world’s most elite cycling teams started with his first sporting love – rugby.
Having studied medicine at Birmingham, Richard arrived in Macclesfield in 1985 for his GP training which included spells at Macclesfield Hospital.
At this time he was invited to get involved with England Rugby Union teams. It was a dream job for Richard who was also just starting to play for Macclesfield Rugby Club’s first team and later saw him switch to domestic rugby, working with Premiership sides Bristol and Northampton.
Richard has also worked with England’s hockey and blind football teams, and got to experience the excitement of the 2012 London Olympics.
Then came a knock at the door from Team Sky.
Richard said: “I knew nothing about cycling when I started, outside of the medical side of things. But it was an opportunity not to be missed.
“Being around the sport got me hooked. Dave Brailsford, head of Team Sky, had a target of winning the Tour de France and to get more people on bikes.
“I am part of that cycling revolution. I now have five bikes and get out when I can.”
Richard’s job takes him all over the world and he leads a medical team of five doctors, two physiotherapists and a nutritionist, responsible for 29 riders.
It’s challenging work, especially being away from his wife and daughters, Katie, 28, and Sophie, 25, but there are rewards, namely winning the Tour de France.
Richard said: “It is four weeks of the most pressurised and focused work I have ever been involved in, and I have been involved in the Olympics and Commonwealth Games, but it is a fantastic experience.
“There is a lot to the job, from dealing with anti-doping agencies, which could appear at any time, to considering the weather, clothing, major illness and the unpredictable wounds and fractures from crashes.
“A lot goes into the monitoring of hydration and nutrition and the recovery of the cyclists.
“But it’s not all seriousness and science. There are some great personalities who keep the banter alive, which helps in a group of men living closely for such long periods.
“It’s such a unique sport in that every member of the team works for the team in that effort for success.
“I absolutely love being part of that team.”