Old Dalby rider Tom Chandler aiming high in GB and Europe

Tom Chandler in action at the Perfs Pedal PHOTO: LARRY HICKMOTT EMN-161103-163627002
Tom Chandler in action at the Perfs Pedal PHOTO: LARRY HICKMOTT EMN-161103-163627002
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Exciting young cycling talent Tom Chandler is hoping to build on his impressive breakthrough season as he gets his teeth into a new campaign.

Last year the Old Dalby rider caught the eye with a gutsy victory in round eight of the British Junior Road Race Series in Bath.

This weekend he will be looking to cash in on a hard winter of training and make a quick impact in the series as it gets under way in Wales.

“I’m hoping to bring some really good form following my training and racing in Belgium,” he said.

“I want to get some decent national results under my belt as soon as possible.

“I learned last year about the opportunities they bring so I think the earlier they get noticed the more chances I’ll get to ride some big international events.”

Chandler’s impressive form in 2015 earned him a call-up to the Scottish junior track squad in September and two months later went on to win bronze at the Scottish Men’s Madison Championships with Alistair Rutherford.

And shortly after he came fifth at the British Junior Madison Championships with Ollie Peckover.

His impressive form and unquenchable thirst to improve earned an invitation to ride for one of the country’s top junior teams, VCUK PH-MAS Cycling, in 2016.

The 17-year-old began the year with his first international track meet when he travelled with the Scotland team to Alkmaar, in Holland, to compete at a European level junior event.

As the team’s only male endurance rider, he was entered into every event, grabbing a fine fifth place in the elimination and performing consistently in the bunch races.

He added: “It meant a very busy programme for me, but importantly it gave me more valuable opportunities to race at a high level.”

Chandler warmed up for the new road season with a training camp with Scotland in the New Forest before competing in the traditional curtain raiser, the Perfs Pedal, near Southampton.

Up against a decent field of elite riders, Chandler found himself in the wrong place when the winning breakaway escaped and had to settle for winning the bunch sprint and a 13th-place finish.

“I made an attempt to get across to the breakaway, but the bunch pulled me back,” he said.

“But I was fairly pleased given the time of year and also after the hard training I’d done the day before with Scotland.”

While Chandler is keen to establish a reputation on the domestic scene, all-important experience on the Continent is also high on his agenda.

Already this year there have been two races in Belgium, including the UCI-ranked Kuurne Brussels Kuurne race, one of the biggest single-day tests on the junior calendar. Mark Cavendish won the senior version last year.

“It was my first trip to Belgium and a very big race to start me off with!

“There was no real result to post, but it was mainly a learning curve for me.”

On Good Friday, Chandler will compete on the track at the Olympic Velodrome, in London, before a block of training and rest to prepare for more national rounds and UCI-ranked races in Belgium and Holland.