Two British cyclists took home two bronze medals from the European Youth Olympic Games in Tblisi, Georgia – the event which has launched the careers of a number of top young riders.
Lauren Dolan, 15, finished third in the women’s time trial before 16-year-old Fred Wright matched that in the men’s road race.
Team Sky rider Peter Kennaugh is just one British Olympian who came through the European Youth Olympics (Lignano 2005), while Tao Geoghegan Hart and Chris Lawless competed four years ago in Trabzon, Turkey.
But it is another Sky rider who Wright wants to emulate – with his sights set on great things after his experience in Tblisi.
“I started on the track and see myself as a track rider but this has changed my thinking and I’d love to be able to combine to two,” he said. “I’ve always admired Geraint Thomas and he won Olympic golds on the track and now climbs with the best of them at the Tour. I’d love to get Olympic gold one day.
“It felt amazing to win bronze. I couldn’t quite believe I was going to win a medal because it was definitely the hardest race I’ve ever done. The heat and the length of the race (71km) are things I’ve never experienced before.”
Dolan, from Newton Abbot, finished the 9.6km time trial in 14:19 to pip Italy’s Vittoria Guazzini by less than half a second into third.
She finished 23rd in the road race two days later, but admits she’s overwhelmed with her medal against the clock.
“It was so nerve-wracking sitting and watching the other riders come in,” she said. “It’s a horrible wait. I was hoping for a top ten coming into the TT and didn’t expect a medal at all. This is just amazing. It’s above and beyond anything I’ve done before.
“The road race was tough but it’s all about this experience. We’re looking at the bigger picture for five or six years down the line and this is great experience and hopefully helps us towards an Olympic Games.”