Thomas-like Kirkbride begins Olympic dream at EYOF

Ellis Kirkbride is proof that the mindset between Britain’s junior and senior cyclists is minimal to none – something he’s determined to show once again at the European Youth Olympic Festival.

Kirkbride was officially announced on the 44-strong British team at the start of the month, joining five other cyclists in competing in the road race and time trial in Utrecht.

The 15-year-old had to ride through the pain barrier to earn selection having fractured his clavicle at the North West International Youth Tour in May but riding on and winning stage three of five.

Kirkbride’s effort echoes that of Britain’s double Olympic champion Geraint Thomas, who is continuing to ride the Tour de France despite fracturing his pelvis after a crash during stage one.

And Kirkbride wants to illustrate at the European Youth Olympic Festival that he has the potential to one day follow Thomas’ lead and compete at a Games for real.

“I was over the moon when I found out I was going. It’s going to be the experience of a lifetime, just to be given the opportunity to compete at that level is great,” said Kirkbride.

“We did the selection process over a couple of races. I performed reasonably well for the majority of the races but I crashed on one of them at the North West Youth Tour.

“I fractured my clavicle but I got back on my bike the next day and rode and got a first and a second on another stage. It gave me motivation to prove that I can still do it even if I am injured.

“At first I found cycling was just a hobby, I did not really expect to take it any further as a career. But I love it and would love to become a professional cyclist now.

“To get to go to the Olympics would be a dream come true. It would be such a proud moment to represent Great Britain at the Olympics.”

For Kirkbride in Utrecht the time trial comes first on Tuesday and the road race two days later with both taking place on the 8km closed circuit ‘Het Lint’ in Maximapark, Leidsche Rijn.

And, while Kirkbride’s path to earning European Youth Olympic Festival selection draws parallels with Thomas, it is 2011 world champion Mark Cavendish who he looks up to most.

“Mark Cavendish is my inspiration. He is a sprinter like me. The thing is he gets so much bad press at times but he just focuses that aggression into his performances,” he added.

“I try and learn from that and do the same myself. The racing part of it has definitely got to be the best part. I like the emotions you get from it and knowing you have done the best you have done.”

© Sportsbeat 2013