Shropshire cyclist asked to guest ride with Belgium team

A young Shropshire cyclist, who was chosen to guest ride with a Belgium racing team, is hoping to use his experience to help his Club team stay on top form next season.

Chris Wilkinson, 20, of Wem, North Shropshire, is a key member of the Paramount Performance Cycling Racing Team, which just celebrated its first season by becoming the top racing Club in the West Midlands.

Chris, who is studying sport and exercise science at Birmingham University, recently spent several weeks training in Belgium to kick-start his training for next year.

While racing in the Oudenaarde area of Belgium, Chris was spotted by the well-known Belgium team Asfra Flanders and asked to join them.

“It was an interclub race with lots of cobbled climbs. I was only told three hours before the race started. It was very hard and I’d not had time to get ready,” Chris said.

“I only ate a couple of bananas before hand so it was pretty terrible in terms of preparation but it was a great opportunity and I wasn’t going to turn it down.

“The race was the equivalent of a premier calendar race over here.”

During Chris’ six-week stay, he took part in about 15 races, called Kermesses.

He said: “They are based in town and you do about 20 six kilometre laps.

“You get a lot of people watching, whereas in the UK races tend to be out in the country and people don’t watch.

“In Belgium, thousands of people watch and it makes it a lot of fun and more enjoyable.”

Chris said he would ride out to take part in races within a 30km area of where he was staying, do the race and then ride back to his rented accommodation.

He said: “I’d be doing 180-200 km a day of riding so it was pretty hard work but a lot of fun. Road racing in Belgium is very competitive and at a higher level than the average local race here.”

While Chris didn’t win any of his races, he came in the top 10 on two occasions as well as in the top 20 and those points will count towards his category two classification in the UK.

He said: “I went to Belgium not expecting a lot as I hadn’t managed to do much training but I was really pleased with my results.

“It’s improved my fitness and helped me become more confident in the bunch as you have to fight for your position a lot more than in the UK.

“I really enjoyed living in Belgium too and being able to chill out when not racing and sit and have a coffee in a café.”

Chris said he will use the training experience next year for riding with the Paramount Performance Cycling Racing Team, sponsored by Stan’s Cycles, Beaumont Lawrence, nutrition manufacturer Torq and cyclist Bob Grinsell.

“I’m looking forward to a good season with Paramount as I enjoyed it a lot last year. Most of the races went pretty well for the team and it’s great fun to be a part of that,” Chris said.

Ben Lawrence, managing director of chartered insurance broker Beaumont Lawrence and Co, which sponsors the team, and the racing team manager, said Chris had shown great dedication to the team.

He said: “Chris has really pushed himself in Belgium and all that training will pay off when the new season starts next year when he is racing with Paramount.

“He did really well to be asked to ride with Asfra Flanders. It is a great achievement for him.”

For more information about the Paramount Performance Cycling

Team see https://www.facebook.com/ParamountPerformanceCrt

Pete White Pete White

Love Shrewsbury editor and chief developer at The Web Orchard, find out more on petejwhite.com

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