With two major cycling events coming to town in September – starting with the Tour O’ The Borders this Sunday – a (bike) light is being shone on local cycling talent as well as the national names.
The Tour O’ The Borders, a home-grown, closed-road event with up to 2500 riders, hits Peebles and its surroundings on September 1.
The following weekend sees the start of the OVO Energy Tour of Britain, British Cycling’s premier road cycling event, held annually across eight days – with stage two being concluded in Kelso on September 8.
Top individual riders and famous teams will be entering – and one local cycling enthusiast has forged a direct link with one of the squads.
Oscar Onley, of Kelso,has been invited byFrench team Ag2r La Mondiale to join its U19 Development Race Team, based in France, next season.
The 16-year-old races throughout Britain and Europe in the junior men’s cycling category, as well as with with Scottish-based Spokes Race Team and also rides for Team Scotland.
The Kelso High School pupil is keen on a career in cycling and the French outfit has teams of U19s and also U23s, so there is plenty of time to gain experiene and develop his ability. He started road cycling after watching the Tour de France.
He began with the Kelso Wheelers racing time-trials.
“He was 10 years old and rules stated he needed an adult to ride with him,” recalled mum Sharon. “He ‘dropped’ (cycling term for leaving the opposition in your wake) his dad after 10 metres! From there, he progressed through youth racing throughout Scotland and the UK.”
Now racing his first year as a junior for Spokes Racing Team and Team Scotland, Oscar has been further afield, racing at the highest level frequently in France and Belgium. “As the first non-French rider to be taken on the team’s 12-year history, it’s is quite an honour,” added Sharon. “His aim is to work his way up hopefully to race for a World Tour team.”
Sharon added: “The saying ‘it takes a village to raise a child” is never truer than when you see the support Oscar receives from the cycling community in the Borders.
“All help is invaluable and without such would prove his aim of reaching professional level unlikely.”