LAYCOCK-born rider Tom Barras is prepared for “the biggest race of his career” this weekend as the Tour de Yorkshire sweeps into the district.

The 36-year-old only returned to full-time racing with UCI Continental team NFTO this year and is relishing the chance to compete in such a high-profile race so close to home.

He is has won over 100 races in a 15-year career but Barras said: “This is without a shadow of doubt the biggest race of my professional career to date.

“I rode the Tour of Britain in 2010 and races of a similar nature during my time living in Belgium but none come close to this.

“As the Tour de France showed last year, there will be big crowds throughout the event and it whets the appetite, not just for me but all the other riders as well.”

The three-stage inaugural tour starts tomorrow, with the final-day route on Sunday passing through the Keighley area, arriving in Oxenhope before taking in Haworth, Oakworth, Holme House and Silsden ahead of the final sprint to the finishing line in Leeds.

Barras will act as a support rider to Australian national champion Steele Von Hoff as he and his NFTO teammates, who are led by Wakefield-born John Wood, bid to cause a surprise in a field including big names such as Bradley Wiggins and Marcel Kittel.

“After our win in the CiCLE Classic last weekend, the pressure is most definitely on us this weekend,” said Barras.

“That showed that the training we’ve undertaken is going well and we are maintaining our position as one of the leading UK teams.”

Now living in the Headingley area of Leeds, Barras regularly trains on the route alongside Oakworth rider Tom Moses, who is also set to compete this weekend for JLT Condor.

Barras believes local knowledge can give him an edge come Sunday.

He said: “Training on the route most definitely gives me and the other local riders an advantage over the field.

“Riding against Tom will be highly competitive as when it’s race day we are competitors for rival teams but away from the track we’re very good friends and it is nice to have that friendly competition.”

Barras is the son of three-time national champion Sid, who will be closer to the action than most this weekend.

Tom said: “My dad is actually involved with the team (NFTO) and will be alongside me and the other riders throughout as I believe he will be driving the second team car in the three stages.”