CYCLING supremo Ed Clancy is Huddersfield’s new golden boy.
The 23-year-old, who learned his art at Holme Valley Wheelers cycling club, is the town’s first Olympic champion since swimmer Anita Lonsbrough 48 years ago.
He was part of the men’s foursome who produced a record-breaking performance to blow away their Danish opponents in yesterday’s 4,000 metres team pursuit final.
And in a message to the Examiner Clancy said: “It was a perfect way to end four years of hard work.
“Yes, I’ll be celebrating of course, but now I just badly want sleep!”
Clancy added: “There were a few nerves as always, but when you think about it logically we are the best team out here.
“It was far from a formality, but we should have won it.
“I’m just glad we put them away.”
Clancy was the lead rider in a team which also included Bradley Wiggins, Paul Manning and Geraint Thomas.
They were out-and-out favourites to clinch the title.
But their win with a new world record time of 3mins 53.314secs surprised even the quartet themselves.
Their time was three seconds faster than their previous world record – set in the heats – and gave them a 6.7-second margin of victory over the Danes.
Clancy, a former Shelley High School and Huddersfield Technical College student who lived in Upperthong during his teens, said: “I don’t think anyone saw that time coming. It was pretty special.”
His victory was the first by a Huddersfield sportsperson at the Olympics since Anita Lonsbrough claimed gold in the 200 metres breaststroke in Rome in 1960.
Clancy – a former paper boy in Holmfirth – used to ride his father’s bike in his early events with the Holme Valley club.
His mother, Cathy, watched yesterday’s race from her home in Gloucestershire and said: “Since I can remember Ed wanted to be on his bike. He always said it was all he wanted to do.”
His grandfather, Richard Cate, 76, said: “He was just amazing as a young kid. He was such a natural, always showing off and pulling wheelies, even on his tricycle”.
Back home members of Holme Valley Wheelers roared Clancy on.
Mark Wilcox, the club’s youth development coach and an external tutor for British Cycling, saw the young sportsman develop after he joined the club in his early teens.
He watched the race with a group from the club at his South Lane home in Holmfirth.
He said: “I know the preparation has been absolutely fantastic and we knew there was something special in the bag.
“I’m extremely proud.
“This is the top event – the gold star race – for most cyclists. It’s so carefully choreographed, with four riders in precise positions pushing themselves to the limit.
“From Ed’s perspective he is a young man in an Olympic final and being the lead rider adds extra pressure.
“They are well trained, but he has to explode out of the gate. He did brilliantly.”
Mr Wilcox said Clancy was a raw talent when he joined Holme Valley Wheelers about 10 years ago.
He said: “You could see he was a bit special, but he was very ragged because he was still growing.
“But he had something about him and when he got to 16 everything started to fall into place.”
And he predicted that there would be more to come from Clancy.
He said: “He might change his discipline, but he’s a young lad and without doubt he’ll be back at the London Olympics in 2012.”
Victory was a distant dream
BY the time Ed Clancy and his team-mates lined up for yesterday’s final, victory was a near certainty.
But just two years ago the likelihood of a golden result was a distant dream.
In 2006, Clancy was coming to terms with the double disappointment of missing out on a track medal in the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne and failing to get a place in the track team racing in the World Championships in Bordeaux.
It had been a tough time for the then 21-year-old, who was suffering from a lack of form.
But even then he was predicting success in Beijing.
At the time he said: “I am more confident than ever about going fast on the track in the not so distant future with a different approach to my training.
“British Cycling has been very supportive in the last couple of months and done every-thing they could to make things seem better.”
Over the next two years, everything started to fall into place.
He picked up a team pursuit gold medal at last year’s World Championships in Majorca, before repeating the feat at this year’s competition in Manchester.
His team set a world record in the 4,000mstres event at the Manchester Velodrome this March.
That followed gold in Sydney, Beijing and Copenhagen in the UCI World Cup series of events.
Huddersfield’s Olympic hall of fame
Derek Ibbotson (athletics): 5,000m bronze, Melbourne, 1956.
Anita Lonsbrough (swimming): 200m breaststroke gold, Rome, 1960.
Michael Whitaker (show jumping): team jumping silver, Los Angeles, 1984.
John Whitaker (show jumping): team jumping silver, Los Angeles, 1984.