Tom Chandler’s bid to reach the Commonwealth Games were hit when his bike was stolen just 10 days ahead of the British Track Cycling Championships.
The championships, to be held at Manchester Velodrome this weekend, are the last major selection race before the Scottish team is named for the Games.
Chandler was travelling home to Old Dalby to attend a funeral when his track bike was taken while the train was stopped at Banbury Station, in Oxfordshire.
The Reading University student had pencilled in a training session at Derby on his way back, but was refused permission to sit with his bike during the train journey.
“As the train set off I saw the guy running away with it,” he said. “There wasn’t a lot I could do.
“But the transport police have been really helpful; they have CCTV footage of him and know roughly where he went.
“They’ve also arranged for me to speak with the local BBC news.”
Chandler won his first senior national title at the Scottish championships late last year, and was encouraged by his training times in the run-up to Manchester.
While unable to buy a replacement in time, he has borrowed the same model of bike from a fellow rider.
But the loaned bike needed urgent bespoke modifications to suit Chandler’s build and specific riding position.
“I can claim on the insurance, but it was my bike and I had got it really well dialled in,” he added.
“Your position and aerodynamics are very important and it’s quite hard to swap that over.
“It’s not ideal before one of your biggest races of the year, but I’ve dealt with it as best I can, and hopefully it will still be a decent weekend.
“I trained with it on Monday and my times were pretty similar to what I have been doing so I’ve just got to stay positive.”
There was a little karma restored as CCTV images showed the thief falling off and hitting a car as he struggled to make a getaway on the specialist bike.
“He has no idea what it is he has stolen,” Chandler said.
“The position was fine for me, but it is low down for everyone else and has no brakes.
“I would be surprised if he’s sold it because there are very limited numbers of people who could ride a bike like that. That makes it more frustrating.”
The 19-year-old faces four races in three days in Manchester – the scratch, points, pursuit and 1km – with his sights focussed on the two latter disciplines.
“I would like to do 4min 25secs in the pursuit and 1min 05secs for the kilo,” he said.
“If I have those times in mind, I’ll see what type of position that will bring.”