Promising young rider George Sewell will get a taste of top level UK and Continental cycling this year after he was cherry-picked for a select regional academy.
The 18-year-old was one of just six to be selected to represent the Bryan Steel Academy in 2017, a regional squad run by the double Olympic medallist.
The Academy gives its team members the chance to race at the highest level in the UK and in Europe, a programme which includes George’s home race, the Rutland-Melton International CiCLE Classic next month.
“The Academy is a fantastic opportunity for myself,” he said.
“There were 75 riders from the East midlands who applied for a place so to be selected onto the six-man team is a huge privilege.
“It is hoped the riders will progress to bigger national teams or Continental teams if they show that potential.”
George, from Old Dalby, has been cycling since he was 12, but has been racing competitively for just three years.
Last season he used the support from Wymondham-based Windmill Wheels to earn some good placings in regional events and local races, but is aware he faces another level of competition altogether in 2017.
He joins Leicester rider David Ogg and Loughborough University student Pierre Vernié, who are in their second year with the academy, as well as fellow new recruits Josh Housley, another Loughborough University student, and young Nottingham riders Conor Williams and Samuel Smith.
“This season will be a huge step up,” George added. “Most of the guys on the team are at university, but I work full-time as an engineering apprentice at the University of Nottingham so my training time is very structured and precious.”
The team was set up by Steel who won Olympic bronze at Sydney 2000 and silver four years later in Athens, as an under 23 development squad for East Midland riders to stop potential talent slipping through the net.
And in its second year it is already producing success stories, most notably that of Ross Lamb who has joined the Belgian-based United Cycling team following a good year riding for the academy in 2016,
The academy has attracted sponsorship from Vision Express, Godfrey Bike Wear, Long Eaton Cycles, Haul Fast, Carter Legrand Wealth Strategies, Perrys Ford, Sock Mine And ETS Haulage.