Spalding Cycling Club prospect Matt Ellis (17) is keeping his feet firmly on the pedals despite earning his first Team GB cyclo-cross jersey in Belgium.
The Spalding Grammar School sixth-former was in an eight-rider squad that took part in the UCI Cyclo-Cross World Cup event in Koksijde near the Belgian/French border.
But things didn’t quite go according to plan for Ellis after he was caught up in a crash within the first 100 metres of the race before a splattered wheel forced him into the pits and, after a long run with his bike, eventually finishing 41st.
Ellis said: “We arrived in Belgium on the Friday and after trying on the kit, we went for a course practical and went round it six or seven times.
“It was extremely sandy and, if you did not get in the right rut, you crashed. But in the race itself, I got off to a good start and a big gap opened up, allowing me to go 15th at one stage.
“Then someone came across me and fell off, with me going over the top of them as well as six others.
“I picked myself up, only to find that I’d got a puncture and my gear shifter had snapped.
“So I ended up having to pick up my bike, put it on my shoulder and run with it.
“Even so, I was happy that I went to Belgium and got all the Team GB kit, although I was annoyed about the race as well because I thought that I could have done quite well.
“I remember going round the course and riding round most of the sections quite quickly, so it’s a shame the race turned out as it did.”
Ellis, a product of Spalding Cycling Club’s Go-Ride scheme that has also produced the likes of Jake Norton, Tom Neale and Tilly Gurney, bounced back from his Belgian setback last month by finishing fourth in the second round out of six races in the British Cycling National Cyclo-Cross Trophy in Abergavenny at the weekend.
The teenager said: “I came fifth in the first round at Derby, a selection race for the World Cup, at the beginning of October.
“I’d had a really bad start and thought that I’d messed things after coming past the pits thinking I was 25th.
“But I eventually got myself up the field and, because the course was quite wide, I had a bit of an opportunity to wind myself through little gaps and overtake people.
“In cyclo-cross, you’ve got to be smooth, know the lines of the course and know when to put the power down without letting your bike slide from underneath you.”
Next year, Ellis will be riding for a Belgian road race team after two years with the Steve Poole Plant Hire / Raleigh squad.
But the youngster and his dad Adam already have their eyes on July 2018, when the National Junior Road Race Championships take place at Witham-on-the-Hill, near Bourne, a race to be organised by Mark Botteley of Bourne Wheelers Cycling Club.
Adam said: “Matt’s always said that he wanted to peak as a junior.
“But I’ve always been against wanting too much, too soon, because you learn more by losing and if you start getting to the top of your game before being a junior by getting into national squads and being recognised, you can burn yourself out.
“Matt still has a lot to learn, but the generation he’s coming through now could be the best in British cycling.
“This is the Go Ride generation, rather than the World Class Performance Funding generation of Sir Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish. Now it’s so competitive to get into international squads and academies.”
Matt is currently looking for some funding to help him with travelling costs, especially with lots of his races being abroad on the continent.
If you would like to help Matt in his future endeavours contact him by emailing him on firstname.lastname@example.org