UCI World Championships: Talented teen Watson homes in on cycling’s world best

Sam Watson. PIC: Andrew Roe
Sam Watson. PIC: Andrew Roe
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Sam Watson is the latest young Yorkshire cyclist to earn a chance to race against the world’s best, writes Jonny Tomes.

Watson, 17, from Roundhay, has had his place in the British Cycling squad confirmed for the upcoming UCI World Championships in Austria, where he will be competing in the junior race.

Connor Swift

Connor Swift

“I’m really pleased,” he said. “It’s surreal. Last year as a youth rider I looked up to the older lads who went and took part in these races, so it’s a bit weird that now I’m doing them, but it feels good.”

The course in Innsbruck is mountainous which suits Watson’s riding style. He said: “I’ve just come back from racing GP Philippe Gilbert in Belgium which is really hilly and I was going well there so I’m looking forward to it.”

Watson, who is also a multiple national champion on the track, is in the first of two years at junior level, and made an impression while racing on the Isle of Man earlier in the season.

“I think what secured my selection was a combination of winning a stage and the general classification of the Isle of Man Junior tour, and also a stage of the Junior Tour of Wales,” he said.

The team for the elite race also contains Yorkshire’s Connor Swift, the national road race champion.

Geraint Thomas and Chris Froome, however, have been left out of the squad.

GB performance director, Stephen Park, explained: “Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas are obvious omissions from the men’s team, and this was a decision we made mutually. Given the challenging nature of the course, we want every rider selected to be able to give 100 per cent to the team, and on the back of what has been an incredible season for both G and Froomey, it’s understandable they are unable to commit to this.

“I’m looking to carry on the momentum of this season into 2019 when the world championships come to Yorkshire and we can look forward to competing on our home roads.”

The men’s squad will be led by the Yates twins, Adam and Simon, while Dani Rowe will lead the women’s team.

The route for the 2019 championships, which take place in Harrogate, will be announced on September 26.