Five teenagers from a Kirklees cycling club are being steered towards Olympic glory.
Harry Hardcastle, 15, of Roberttown, Ben Dransfield and Tom Humphrey, both 15 and from Penistone, and Jamie Ridehalgh, 15, and 14-year-old brother Alex, from Keighley, all have medal dreams for the future.
The teenagers, who ride with Kirklees Cycling Academy (KCA), have been accepted onto the Olympic Development Apprentice Programme, the first stage of British Cycling’s newly restructured “performance pathway” to becoming an Olympian.
The programme aims to “identify, confirm and develop the best young talent” and involves around 20 training camps a year on top of the usual training and racing that the young people take part in.
For the whole of the UK there are only 50 places available which means the academy has secured 10% of the spots.
Academy co-founder Darren Stringer said: “No other club in the UK has had this many riders accepted onto the programme, so to have five selected in one year is a phenomenal achievement both for the club and for Yorkshire.
“The KCA is justifiably proud of this massive success within four-and-a-half years of the club being established and recognises the commitment, enthusiasm, hard work and dedication demonstrated by the riders, their families, club volunteers and sponsors in reaching this pivotal moment in the club’s history.”
The success has also won praise from Gary Verity, chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, the man responsible for bringing the Tour de France’s Grand Départ to the county this year.
Click below for pictures from Le Tour in Huddersfield
Mr Verity said: “This is a major achievement and I am delighted for these young riders. They should be immensely proud of themselves, as we are of them.
“We hoped Yorkshire’s Grand Départ would inspire people and we’re already seeing this. Yorkshire is a name now synonymous with world cycling and we’re all extremely excited to see what the future holds for these five talented Yorkshire lads.”
The academy, based at Spen Valley High School in Roberttown and Richard Dunn Sports Centre in Bradford, was established in 2010 by Darren Stringer, Ivan Boyes and Dave Sowerby to introduce young people aged six-18 to competitive cycling.
The club, which focuses on multiple disciplines including road, track and cyclo-cross, has received support from influential cycling figures including Mirfield-based Brian Robinson, who became the first Briton to win a stage of the Tour in 1958.
Mr Stringer said the club, founded in 2009, was already ahead of its targets and predicted further success for the five teens.
“No doubt some, or all, of them will soon be recognised as future Olympic and Commonwealth medal winners or Tour de France riders,” he said. “There are exciting times ahead.”
To find out more about the academy click here.