Friday, 17 September 2021

Tour de France ambition for teenager

A TEENAGER from Charvil is dreaming of competing in the Tour de France only three years afer taking up cycling

A TEENAGER from Charvil is dreaming of competing in the Tour de France only three years afer taking up cycling.

Ed Giles is already competing in national events and believes it is only a matter of time before he wins a race at that level.

He was only 15 when he joined his father Steve on a training ride for a Land?s End to Twickenham charity cycling challenge.

He enjoyed it so much that he decided to take up riding himself and last year he gave up rugby following an injury so he could concentrate on cycling.

Now 18, Ed competes for the Russell Partnership Racing Team in Reading and takes part in weekly races around the country.

Ed, who is studying for his A-levels at the Piggott School in Wargrave, lives with his parents Steve and Amanda and brothers James, 15, and Philip, 13.

Last year, the family clubbed together to buy him his first racing bike, a £2,500 Canyon Ultimate CF SLX.

Ed said: ?My dad entered that charity cycle ride from Land?s End to Twickenham in aid of rugby?s Wooden Spoon charity and needed someone to go out with so he bought me a bike on eBay. That first ride hurt like hell.

?Then we were out on a ride and we bumped into Andrew Payne, from Maidenhead and District Cycling Club, who said I should come along to their time trials.

?At the time I was playing rugby for my school and I had dislocated my shoulder on three occasions. I had to have an operation and was out of the game for a year.

?When I had recovered I said there was no way I was going back to rugby and turned to cycling properly.

?I cycled in time trials for Maidenhead in 2014 and last March I was introduced to the Russell Partnership team.

?A friend of mine from Maidenhead had been picked up and she invited me along to a training session at Palmer Park in Reading.

?They were the first people to introduce me to racing rather than just time trials.?

Ed has made a rapid ascent through the junior ranks and now holds a category 2 licence, which qualifies him to compete against other high-ranking riders in regional and national competitions.

Last season he competed regularly at the Hillingdon circuit in London and raced at more than 30 events between March and September.

In July he took part in his first two national races in Hatherleigh and Bath, finishing 25th in the latter.

Ed said: ?I didn?t do as well in the national races and it was a completely different standard but I couldn?t have done it without RP racing.

?The season finished around October and since then I?ve been training for next season. I have my first national race of the year on March 29 in Wales and we?ve just been to Spain as a team over half-term.?

Earlier this year, Ed was awarded grants of £250 from both Wokingham Borough Council and Charvil Parish Council as part of the young sportsperson scheme.

The money helped fund his trip to Spain with his team, where they were coached by former professionals from the Ciclo Costa Blanca team.

Ed said: ?My mum found the grant being advertised by Wokingham Borough Council and we applied. They gave us £250, which was matched by Charvil Parish Council, so that paid for the majority of the training camp. I?m very grateful to them both.

?The riders in Spain took us out on 60- or 70-mile rides every day, which was quite different to how I train when I?m at home.

?Back here I go cycling around Henley and the Chilterns because the hills are quite similar to the races I compete in.

?I normally ride 40 to 70 miles at the weekend and during the week my coach will set me things to do on the static bike.?

Ed is now targeting his first win at a national level and hopes to secure his category 1 licence, the top level for junior cyclists in the UK, if he can score 200 points during the season?s competitions.

He has been offered a place to study law at the University of York next year, where he hopes to continue cycling when he?s not studying.

Ed said: ?I?d like to continue and there?s a real cycling community in York. Competing for the university team would be really interesting.

?Cycling as a whole is fantastic at the moment. There?s so much going on and lots of government funding.

?At Palmer Park they have a youth section on Saturday mornings.

?Prior to the 2012 Olympics they had about 50 people. Now there?s in excess of 100 so it has grown so much on the back of the Games. In general, going out for a ride at the weekend you see more people and they?re so friendly ? you wave at people and get to know them.?

Ed?s cycling hero is Chris Froome and his ambition is to follow in his footsteps and eventually compete in the Tour de France, which Froome won in 2013.

He said: ?You will never meet a cyclist who doesn?t think about competing in the Tour de France.

?If I?m able to get top threes and win one or two national races that?s how you get contracts and then move on to big teams.

?That?s the aspiration but I?ve also got the back-up plan of university just in case.?

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