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National trophies for “speed freak” Tom

Date: Tuesday 7th March 2017
Tom Roper with his national 800m and 8,000m trophies
Tom Roper with his national 800m and 8,000m trophies

BEACON Wheeler Tom Roper received two trophies at a glittering British Cycling awards dinner, held in Birmingham.

The 18-year-old, from Penrith, picked up the silverware for winning both the national 800m and 8,000m grasstrack series — which included both juniors and men competing for points in a series of races, held all over the country.

He said it was “very motivational” seeing people from different cycling disciplines, including road racing, downhill mountain biking and cyclocross. The experience, he said, had boosted his confidence.

A student at Penrith Queen Elizabeth Grammar School, Tom, who describes himself as a “a bit of a speed freak”, has been coached at the town’s Frenchfield-based grasstrack club by Bob McLean for about four years.

He first got into cycling through mountain biking, riding around Penruddock, and used to train with another talented Eden cyclist, Mark Donovan, before moving to Penrith and joining up with McLean.

At the moment, he is unsure whether he is more cut out for speed or endurance cycling.

For speed, he said, you need what are known as “fast twitch” muscles, but for endurance, “slow twitch” are required.

“I thought that 8,000m was endurance, but it is just classed as a really long sprint,” said Tom.

The son of John and Audrey, Tom is hoping to go to university in Liverpool to study geography and geology. And, following the move, he intends to stop grasstrack racing in favour of more road and hard track riding, taking part in velodrome-based time trials in a bid to catch the eye of British Cycling team selectors.

However, before then he will continue grasstrack racing and keep training at Frenchfield.

He also intends to try to win a national championship jersey, which goes to the winner of a one-off championship race.

The British Cycling awards offered guests, who included Olympic gold medal winner Chris Boardman, an opportunity to celebrate the continued growth and success of British cycling, while recognising volunteers, national and world champions.

Opened by British Cycling president Bob Howden, it celebrated an incredible year of international and domestic cycling success, as well as the new partnership between British Cycling and HSBC UK.

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