Welsh riders shine at European track champs

Wales shows it's strength

by Kevin Emery   July 22, 2009  

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The strength of Welsh cycling has been on display at this year’s UEC European Track Championships in Belarus.

Nine of the of the 20 medal haul for the British team have been won by Welsh riders at the Minsk Velodrome.

Michael Heaven, events and communications officer for Welsh Cycling said: “For Welsh riders to win 45 percent of the GB total is excellent.”

Becky James, of Abergavenny, showed she is following in the footsteps of Olympic queen Victoria Pendleton by winning gold in the women’s junior sprint and the 500m time trial, aswell as taking silver in the junior women’s keirin.

Newport rider Jon Mould and his partner Chris Whorral powered to top spot in the junior men’s Madison, while Cardiff’s Luke Rowe, who already pocketed a top Under-23 World Cup race n the road this year, won silver in the men’s Under-23 scratch and team pursuits.

And 16-year-old Risca rider Sam Harrison bagged a silver medal in the junior men’s team pursuit ad a bronze in the junior men’s Madison.

The championships are a major development goal for the Under 23 Olympic Academy and Olympic Development Programme riders.

Wales had gold medallists in Beijing in Nicole Cooke, who won the women’s road race and went on to win the world championships, and Geraint Thomas in the men’s team pursuit.

And it looks like these youngsters could be on course to emulate them, with James, Mould, Rowe and Harrison all earmarked by cycling chiefs as potential medallists at London 2012.

So what are the reasons for such an impressive turn by Welsh cyclists?

Mr Heaven said: “Having world class facilities in Wales has been a massive help, and the GB Team are really bringing the young riders on now and giving them lots more support.

“Last year Becky had glandular fever but she was looked after by the GB Team and you can see from her results this year that if she had been able to compete last year she would have won more."