York cyclist Robert Gray competes in Prudential RideLondon Youth Grand Prix

York cyclist Robert Gray at the Prudential RideLondon Youth Grand Prix

York cyclist Robert Gray at the Prudential RideLondon Youth Grand Prix

First published in Junior sports

YORK’S Robert Gray admitted there was nothing better than seeing his team come out on top after being roared down The Mall by hordes of fans at the Prudential RideLondon Youth Grand Prix.

Gray, 16, was one of 48 talented young cyclists picked to contest the Youth Grand Prix in front of thousands of cycling fans who lined the route to cheer on the riders.

The 45-minute race followed a 1.3- mile loop around St James’ Park and Buckingham Palace and saw 12 teams from regions across the UK compete for the £4,250 pool of prize money.

It was also the same route followed by some of the world’s best professional cyclists just minutes earlier, including world road race champion Marianne Vos and double Olympic champion Laura Trott, for the women’s Grand Prix title.

And Gray, who finished 17th overall, was delighted that his Yorkshire boys’ team picked up the win and shared a prize of £500.

“It was incredible to come around that last corner on to The Mall - it really felt like one of the pro races,” he said.

“Seeing the women do it before us was really inspiring and really made us even more excited to get out there and get riding.

“You couldn’t pick a better place to hold a bike race really and, as a young cyclist, it’s like playing at Old Trafford or playing at Wembley before England go out.

“It really is brilliant and the crowd made it so special for all of us and really helped us around and helped us to put on a good race.

“The whole experience was really valuable and coming down here and seeing Olympic champions and seeing how it all goes down is amazing.

“To win as a team is incredible and it was great that we managed to do so well together, you can’t ask for more than that.”

And Gray believes that the chance to see some of the world’s best cyclists in action on the same roads will be something he will never forget.

“It’s a lot faster than a lot of the other races and I think that’s because everyone wants to win this one because it’s such a big one,” he added.

“It’s the first time I’ve raced here and the first time the teams have been involved so that’s nice to be a part of.

“I’m moving up in age group next year so I won’t be back in this race so I’m glad to have done it.“I’m hoping to join a team and do junior road races. This is going to help me with that and the race is something I’ll remember for a long, long time and I’ll keep hold of this jersey forever.

“It’s something that I’ll tell the kids and the grandkids about. I can tell them I raced on this hallowed ground.”

• Prudential RideLondon took place on August 9 and 10. To find out more, visit
www.prudentialridelondon.co.uk

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