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Scots cyclist on his dream Tour de France debut

Oscar Onley
Oscar Onley pictured after winning a stage of Australia's Santos Tour Down Under in January [Getty Images]

Cyclist Oscar Onley has thanked Borderers for their support ahead of the second week in his debut Tour de France.

The Kelso-born 21-year-old said he was aware of the support he was receiving online and along roadsides in France, with Scottish flags becoming more apparent.

Supporters from his hometown and across Scotland have headed out to see him compete.

Onley told BBC Scotland News: "It's been a big nine days so far with a lot of emotions.”

The Team DMS-Firmenich rider is Scotland’s first Tour de France competitor since David Millar (2000-2013) and only the third Scot in the past 50 years.

Onley started Tuesday's 10th stage in 44th place in a field of the world's best 174 riders, despite suffering a minor crash on Saturday.

Speaking earlier, during the tour's first rest day, he said the team winning the first stage and coveted yellow jersey had brought a lot more attention on him and his team-mates.

Onley said: "That takes a bit out of you which I didn't appreciate before.

"To be part of that on the first day though was amazing and something I will never forget, especially riding with Romain [Bardet], who is on his last tour.

"It was special to be part of the team with him in the yellow jersey and I have amazing memories from this first week that will stay with me forever."

Oscar Onley
Onley says he hopes to show what he is capable of in mountain stages of the race [Getty Images]

Onley said he has been struck by the sheer scale of the event.

He added: "Everything is just bigger.

"Off the bike there is a lot more media and fans, and I always find that a bit strange, where there's 10 people wanting to speak to you before the stage and so many fans just everywhere on the stage."

And on the bike he said "everything is a lot faster".

Onley explained: "Every rider has a job to do that and is committed to that, and you feel that in the bunch.

"Everyone is fighting to be at the front at certain moments and that just increases the speed."

The former Kelso Wheelers Club cyclist also shrugged off Saturday's fall.

"It was just a touch of wheels in front of me and I went down, but it was nothing serious and I'm fine," he said.

"But I've been glad of a rest day."

'Thanks everyone'

Onley said the team was doing well and had been racing aggressively, but added that he wants to improve his own performance - particularly in the race's mountain stages.

He added: "I feel like I've been getting a kicking every day without much to show for it.

"But I'm hoping with some of the stages coming up that suit me a bit better I'll be up to the front end of the race a bit more and getting a sniff of a result."

Onley said his team have not put too much pressure on him as its his first tour.

But he added: "Any professional athlete puts pressure on themselves to perform and there have been days I've wanted to be a bit higher up."

At the same time he is relishing the experience.

Onley added: "There's time during the race where I could think of nothing worse than what I'm doing but after every stage when you look back you think 'that was cool', and it's a dream, to be doing what I'm doing.

"I'd just add my thanks to everyone who has been supporting me so far and I hope I'll get my face on the TV a bit more in the next two weeks, and get up the front, so that people back home have something to cheer for."

Onley finished 47th in the latest stage on Tuesday.

The race concludes in Nice on Sunday 21 July.