Meet the Peckham boys racing for Britain

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What does it take to be a BMX racer?

The district of Peckham, in south-east London, has struggled with youth violence and anti-social behaviour in recent years, including a double stabbing within 24 hours in July.

But within the district stands a small dirt track, home of Peckham BMX Club, which has produced 70% of the British racers in the Olympic programme.

BBC Sport went to meet Kye Whyte and Quillan Isidore – two Peckham residents who will represent their country at the European Championships in Glasgow.

‘We chose the good route – now we’re here riding bikes’


Kye Whyte’s two brothers, Daniel and Tre, are also BMX racers

Whyte has been selected as the youngest member of the six-strong team, who will compete at the new Glasgow BMX Centre on 10 and 11 August.

The 18-year-old started competing 14 years ago and won 10 consecutive British junior titles on his path to the senior level.

“My dream is to be European champion, world champion and Olympic champion. I want to win every title possible,” he said.

BMX runs in the family. His brothers Daniel and Tre are racers, and his dad Nigel helped start the Peckham club alongside DJ entrepreneur CK Flash.

“It’s not the best of places to grow up,” Whyte said of his home town. “It’s a crazy place to be, but we chose the good route and now we’re here riding bikes.

“BMX is definitely my thing, but if BMX wasn’t the route for me, I couldn’t tell you what I’d be doing. I would probably be working or getting an apprenticeship at this age like most lads do, or doing silly things.”

Whyte has also had to deal with injury setbacks in his career – he was out of action for 10 months in 2013.

But broken bones are all part of the sport.

“At the start of the year on the first day of the World Cup, I had a crash and broke my collarbone,” he said. “It was probably the most usual injury, because I’ve done it once both sides.

“My worst crash was probably when I was knocked out for a week and I had a bleed on the brain, a broken jaw, and the whole left side of my face was scarred.

“It was a hard route back; it took me nearly two years to get back into competitions again, so I didn’t ride for a year.

“I finally got on my first session back, that’s when I felt like quitting because I was so slow; people I could beat were beating me.

“I was sick, I didn’t think I could do it, but you’ve got to believe in what you want.”

‘People have literally had their lives saved’


Quillan Isidore says competing in BMX in Peckham has given him life skills

A keen BMX racer since the age of nine, Isidore is a former under-16 world champion and multiple national champion.

The 21-year-old has battled to prove himself since he missed out on qualification for the Rio Olympics in 2016 and has bounced back from breaking his leg last year.

“Now, I’m more confident, I’m a couple of years older and I’m more experienced so all that works hand-in-hand,” Isidore said.

“It’s my life. It’s all I do, it’s what I grew up doing. I just want to be the best I can be and I want that to be being the fastest person in the world.”

Growing up, Isidore faced a lot of of problems in Peckham but has nothing but praise for the club where he trained.

“It’s not the best area, and we’ve had kids come in to the club who have literally had their life saved because of the stuff that goes on and all the gangs,” said Isidore.

“You can easily get led astray from going down the right path. The mentality of Peckham is not just to be successful in BMX, but to be successful in life.

“We’ve just got a really good work ethic as a club, and the coaches there are really good. They care so much about the kids and not just how they do in BMX, but they’re also teaching them life skills.”

Isidore came fourth at a World Cup event this year, and believes he’s peaking at the right time for Glasgow.

“I’ve had my best season so far on the World Cup circuit,” he added.

“I’ve delivered what I’m capable of and that’s what I’ve always struggled with.

“When I go into any race, a big race, that’s what I am striving for. I know that if I can deliver my best, then I will be successful.”

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Geraint Thomas and Chris Froome to ride Tour of Britain

Geraint Thomas and Chris Froome

2018 Tour de France champion Geraint Thomas and four-time winner Chris Froome will ride together the in Tour of Britain for the first time since 2009

Tour de France winners Geraint Thomas and Chris Froome will lead Team Sky at next month’s Tour of Britain, it has been confirmed.

They will line up on the start at Pembrey Country Park, Carmarthenshire, on Sunday 2 September.

“As soon as I’d finished the Tour I knew I wanted to ride the Tour of Britain,” said Thomas.

“It starts in Wales which will be special, and then I get to go and race across the whole of the UK.”

Thomas, the 2018 Tour de France champion who has family roots in Carmarthenshire, and four-time Tour de France winner Froome will be joined by Dutchman Wout Poels. The rest of the Team Sky line up has yet to be confirmed.


Thomas said he could not wait to “ride on home roads”

Six-time Grand Tour winner Froome last took part in the Tour of Britain in 2009, while Thomas finished seventh overall last year.

Their participation rules them out of the Vuelta a Espana which starts on 25 August.

“I want to go to the race in the shape to compete and enjoy it,” said Thomas, who has ridden the Tour of Britain eight times.

“We’ll have to see how the next few weeks go but I’m looking forward to it and I know we will have a strong team there.

“Wout is looking really good at the moment too.”


The rest of Team Sky line-up for the Tour of Britain will be announced at a later date

“It’s been a long time since I’ve raced the Tour of Britain,” said Froome, who has focused instead on La Vuelta in the past four seasons, winning the Spanish Grand Tour for the first time last year.

“The Vuelta a Espana has always been such a big goal and sadly coincided with the Tour of Britain, but not doing La Vuelta this year gives me the chance to come back to the UK and race on what looks like a great parcours.

“I’m really looking forward to riding. I always remember there being a great atmosphere at the Tour of Britain and the race has only got bigger over the years.”

Following the start in Wales, this year’s Tour of Britain will take riders into the West Country and up to Cumbria before returning to its regular finishing circuit in central London on 9 September.

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Welsh velodrome renamed after Tour winner Thomas

Thomas prepared for the 2012 Olympics at the velodrome in Newport

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Thomas prepared for the 2012 Olympics at the velodrome in Newport

Wales’ National Velodrome will be renamed in honour of Tour de France champion Geraint Thomas, it has been announced.

The cycling venue in Newport will become the Geraint Thomas National Velodrome of Wales.

In July, Thomas became the third Briton to win the world’s most famous road race.

The double Olympic team pursuit champion said: “It’s a huge honour – I can’t quite believe it if I’m honest!”

Thomas, 32, has trained at the velodrome – the home of governing body Welsh Cycling – since it opened in 2003.

He used the facility before the 2012 Olympics in London where he was part of a Team GB pursuit squad that defended their gold medal.

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Thomas and members of Team GB track cycling in Newport watching Bradley Wiggins win the 2012 Tour de France

Thomas also trained at the venue as part of his preparations for the 2014 Commonwealth Games, where he won two medals, including road race gold.

This summer marked his greatest personal triumph when he emerged victorious after 21 stages around France.

Thomas said: “The Velodrome has played a pivotal part in my cycling story and continues to play such a key role in inspiring the next generation of cyclists in South Wales.

“It’s a fantastic facility for riders of all ages and abilities to hone their talents.

“I would personally like to thank everyone who has played a part in this and look forward to seeing everyone for the grand opening.”

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The cyclist was thanked “on behalf of Wales” by First Minister Carwyn Jones

Thousands of people lined the streets of Cardiff earlier this month as Wales officially welcomed the cyclist home.

He was congratulated by First Minister Carwyn Jones at the Senedd before cycling through the city centre to a ceremony outside Cardiff Castle in front of an estimated 8,000 fans.

Newport Live, the charitable trust that runs the velodrome, said the venue has seen a “significant increase” in inquiries to use the track since Thomas’ Tour success.

Chairman John Harrhy said: “We were all thrilled with Geraint’s historic Tour de France victory and the board and our key partners were immediately unanimous in supporting the renaming of the velodrome in Geraint’s honour.”

‘Entirely fitting’

Having Thomas’ name attached to the cycling centre will act as an inspiration for future riders, Mr Harrhy added.

Thomas is due to return to Newport next month with Team Sky when the opening stage of the Tour of Britain finishes in the city on Sunday 2 September.

Newport City Council leader Debbie Wilcox said: “Geraint has spoken of what [the velodrome] has meant to him, so it is entirely fitting that Newport bestows this honour on him.”

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2018 Tour de France champion Thomas and four-time winner Chris Froome

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European Championships: Mark Cavendish withdraws from GB road team

mark Cavendish

Cavendish is four short of Eddy Merckx’s record of 34 stage wins at the Tour de France

Great Britain’s Mark Cavendish has pulled out of Sunday’s European Championships road race in Glasgow on medical advice.

The 33-year-old sprinter, who has 30 Tour de France stage wins, was eliminated from this year’s edition after falling victim to the time limit.

“I’ve been advised that at this stage the best thing is for me to withdraw,” said Cavendish, who will be replaced by Mark Christian.

“It’s incredibly disappointing.”

The British team also includes Adam Blythe, Owain Doull, Luke Rowe, Ian Stannard, Ben Swift and Scott Thwaites.

Cavendish had previously described the return to the Glasgow streets where he won the national road race title in 2013 as “pretty special”.

However, he has had a string of injuries this year.

He withdrew from the Abu Dhabi Tour after suffering concussion and whiplash and crashed out of the Tirreno-Adriatico in a incident that left him with facial cuts and sore ribs.

Cavendish also suffered a broken rib and an ankle injury in the Milan-San Remo one-day race in March.

He failed to register a single point in the green jersey classification before he finished the Tour de France early on stage 11.

He finished 12th in the RideLondon-Surrey Classic last month.

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Tour winner Thomas ‘confident’ of new deal ‘in next few days’

Geraint Thomas

Geraint Thomas was welcomed home by thousands of fans in Cardiff on Thursday as he celebrated his Tour win

Tour de France winner Geraint Thomas says he is confident of agreeing a new deal with Team Sky.

His contract is due to expire at the end of the year, with other teams expressing interest in signing the 32-year-old Welshman.

Speaking at his Tour homecoming parade, Thomas told the BBC: “I know they [Team Sky] had a big meeting today, I’m obviously really happy there.

“I’m confident we’ll get something sorted in the next few days.

Thomas added: “We’re incredibly close and I’m happy where I am. It seems to be working well at the moment.

“So I think in the very near future we’ll have it all done.”

The new Polish-sponsored CCC WorldTour team has already made Thomas an offer, with sports director Piotr Wadecki saying he wants to build his Tour de France team around Thomas.

“We have made an offer to him and we are waiting for a reply,” he said.


Geraint Thomas led a peloton of youngsters through Cardiff City centre on Thursday

CCC Sprandi Polkowice will merge with BMC Racing in 2019 to create CCC WorldTour.

Speaking to the website Przeglad Sportowy, Wadecki said they have already signed one of the best classic race riders in the world in Greg van Avermaet, but want to compete in the general classification at Grand Tours.

Thomas’ Team Sky contract expires at the end of 2018 but, although his position as team leader is not certain, Team Sky principal Sir Dave Brailsford said he was “pretty positive” it was the best place for him to stay.

Wadecki added: “He won the Tour de France, but will he be number one? There’s [four-time Tour champion] Chris Froome who will want to win.

“With us, Geraint would already know in January that his goal is the Tour de France and we would definitely focus on him.”


Team Sky’s Geraint Thomas was racing in his ninth Tour de France when he won in July 2018

Thomas has acknowledged he has had offers but says he is comfortable in the Team Sky environment.

“I feel a real part and I grew up in the system, Dave Brailsford, Rod Ellingworth, Fran Millar, I’ve know them all since I’ve been 17,” he said.

“Without Tim Kerrison I wouldn’t be here now either. It works for me and I’m happy.

“It’s not just about on the road and what the guys are like. You’ve got to weigh up everything, see the negatives and the positives and go from there.

“There’s a lot of good teams out there and out of respect I wanted to hear what they had to say. It’s been nice to have some nice offers.

“I’ve made my mind up in my head really, but just need to get it done officially. Hopefully it’ll be done within the next day.”

If Thomas signs with Team Sky, he says he will not have any problems about working alongside four times Tour de France winner Chris Froome.

“If I was riding with Froomey again I think the way we rode this year was the right way to go about it,” said Thomas.

“We’re both open and honest with each other, we’re good mates and that hasn’t changed and it could work again.

“Easily if roles were reversed next year, I’d be disappointed like Froomey because you want to win.

“At the same time if Froomey is the stronger, you do your bit.”

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