A MIDDLESBROUGH-born cyclist who once beat road racing legend Eddy Merckx has been awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Sport Science in recognition of his distinguished career.

‘Super Sid’ Barras won 200 races in his 18 years as a professional - including the 1979 double of British national road race champion and British national circuit race champion - and he won 150 amateur races before he turned professional.

Today (Friday, July 25), he was awarded his honorary doctorate by Leeds Metropolitan University for his contribution to sport.

“Receiving this award is the icing on the cake," he said.

"I did 18 years as a professional cyclist and three or four years as an amateur before that. It was hard work and I loved every minute of it. This award just makes it all worthwhile."

He added: “The highlight of my career really was that I was leading British professional for ten seasons on the trot. I won just under 200 professional races but if I had to single one race out it would probably be the Tour de Switzerland in 1973 when I held both the green jersey and the yellow jersey.”

Father of professional cyclist, Tom Barras, Sid was one of the UK’s foremost racing cyclists in the 1970s-80s and a national champion on three occasions.

He won a stage at the Tour of Majorca and the first stage of the Tour of Switzerland, taking the yellow and green jerseys in the process.

He famously beat Eddy Merckx in 1977 at the Eastway Circuit in London, finishing second to German Didi Thaurau. As part of the Leeds cycling scene, he still rides daily and has mentored many of Yorkshire’s young cyclists and champions of today.

The 66-year-old also plays a pivotal role in the Dave Rayner Fund, a charity supporting up and coming riders.

Leeds Metropolitan University Vice Chancellor, Professor Susan Price, said: “A British champion, Sid Barras continues to inspire the cycling world with his commitment and passion for the sport.

“We are delighted to recognise his significant contribution to sport, and this award seems particularly fitting in the year when our region has welcomed the world’s largest free sporting event, Le Tour de France. There can be very few who have not been gripped by ‘Tour fever’.”