Published: 28th Jun 2024 Images: Scottish Cycling

Onley sets sights on stages in debut Tour de France

Oscar Onley will become the first homegrown Scot in over 30 years to take to the start of the world’s biggest bike race when the Tour de France gets underway in Florence on Saturday.

Feature Image: Team DSM-Firmenich-postNL

The last Scottish representation in the Tour was David Millar, who rode for Garmin back in 2013 and won a stage a year earlier, with the last homegrown rider being Pippa York, then known as Robert Millar, who rode for the TVM squad back in 1993.

York’s exploits in the 1980s and 90s were revolutionary for cycling in both Scotland and the UK, and after the King of the Mountains victory in 1984 – the first British win of any jersey at the Tour – saw the race finally broadcast in the UK through Channel 4; starting a long affinity for the race and introducing the likes of Gary Imlach and Phil Liggett to our screens.

Borders native Oscar started cycling at the age of 10 and went on to join the Kelso Wheelers whom he credits with getting him into racing. During his time as a youth rider, Oscar engaged with the Scottish Cycling RACE National programme activity, attending many cluster sessions as well as coaching days before joining the Junior Performance Development Programme, where he competed for Scotland alongside riding for Spokes Racing Team.

Now 21 years of age, Onley has made an impact in the past few seasons with DSM-Firmenich PostNL. The Scot exploded on to the world stage two years ago when he went toe-to-toe with Jonas Vingegaard at the Tour of Croatia, impressing many in the pro scene.

The last two seasons have been interrupted by crashes, but have seen constant progression by the former Spokes RT rider including top tens at multiple World Tour stages races and a dream start to the Vuelta last August when he was part of the Team DSM squad that won the opening team time trial in a dusky Barcelona.


The 2024 season has also been a year of success and setbacks, with an incredible win at the Tour Down Under and eighth at the Tour de Suisse contrasted by a brace of broken collarbones. The Kelso man has put the experiences behind and he’s firmly looking forward to the start in Florence, as he explained to Team DSM-Firmenich-PostNL:

“I can say that I’m going for experience but to be honest, I’m optimistic, I’m ambitious and I want to go for a stage win”.

A unique Tour parcours faces the peloton this year, with its first Italian start, and a medium mountain stage to start the race, but Onley believes that offers more opportunities for riders.

“If I play my cards right, and everything lines up on a certain day, then I don’t see why I can’t go for a stage. There are few that I’ve picked out but obviously it’s difficult when you’re looking for a breakaway because that’s not guaranteed every day. Finding the right day will be tough but then it’s all down to the legs and I hope that I’m good enough to be up there.”

As well as Onley, he is joined by Sean Flynn in Team DSM-firmenich-PostNL, giving a Scottish twang to the Dutch team, and he hopes that proves to the younger generation of riders that making it to the top level is achievable:

“As a rider who has come up through the Scottish scene and raced there throughout my youth, it’s quite a big moment. There’s myself and Sean Flynn on the team, so there’s two Scots in the WorldTour. But at the Tour I hope that it shows to the younger riders who are coming through the ranks that it is possible and that you’re not that far off from something that’s quite big”.

Other British riders in the race include Tom Pidcock, Geraint Thomas and Ben Turner from Ineos-Grenadiers; Adam Yates from UAE Team Emirates; Simon Yates from Jayco Alula, Fred Wright from Bahrain Victorious, Dan McLay from Arkea B&B Hotels; Mark Cavendish from Astana Qazaqstan; and the duo from IPT of Stephen Williams and Jake Stewart. 10 riders in the most Brits ever to start the race, underlining the health of top-level racing in Britain.

The Tour de France starts on Saturday 29th June, and you can watch every stage live on ITV4 and Eurosport/Discovery+; highlights will be available each evening on ITV4 and STV.