A local mountain bike racer with aspirations to turn pro is competing in the Tour de Yorkshire today in the same team as Olympic hero, Sir Bradley Wiggins.
Former Richardson’s Cycle Club member Michael Thompson (20) has moved from a farm in Moorsholm to Manchester to further his dreams of competing in the Olympics.
Now he has the chance to showcase his road racing skills when he competes for Team Wiggins in the Tour, which passes through Whitby and the Esk Valley this afternoon.
Michael is hoping his local knowledge will give him an edge.
“I know pretty much all the stage one roads inside out,” he said. “It’s where I trained previous to moving away.”
Thompson said the area’s hills will prove a challenge for some, particularly those who have ridden the Tour de France.
“It’s different here to racing abroad, where you have shallower inclines but massive mountains, but these [local roads] go up to 33 per cent,” he added.
“Riding conditions are not great. There are narrow lanes which will be massive in this race as there are so many teams.
“It’s a massive step up for me just to be part of it and I will try to do as much as I can for the team.”
Michael, who is currently an amateur racer but trains full-time as part of Lottery-funded Olympics programme, is looking forward to plenty of support from the home crowd and will pass Danby Primary School and Whitby’s Caedmon College, both of which he attended as a pupil.
Michael was due to meet Sir Bradley for the first time yesterday when the team made its way across the Pennines to Yorkshire.
“It will be the first time I have met him, we are travelling across the day before and everyone will get together for an evening meal.
“Bradley has a quirky personality but he is switched on when he needs to be.”
Michael is hoping to be involved in all three stages of the inaugural race over the weekend, providing he makes the time cut at the end of each one.
“My aim is to stick through,” he said.
Michael originally showed a lot of promise as a junior in mountain bike cross country races and his talents were nurtured with Scarborough-based Richardson’s Cycle Club.
He was a member of the TEF/Richardson’s team and was selected to represent Britain at the World MTB championships.
He moved from Richardson’s to a sponsored team before joining the National Development Squad.
Team Wiggins is a new professional team and Michael is now a professional with that team – it is not unusual for mountain bike riders to be entered in road races.