At just 17 Wood is taking the next step

Harrison Wood has already proved that, at just 17, he can compete with top junior racers at home and abroad, and he’ll have plenty of chances to do even better next season after signing for Belgium’s CT Soenens-Boom team.

Wood, from Torquay, will continue to wear the colours of his local Mid-Devon Cycling Club in UK races in 2018, but his ‘move’ to Soenens-Boom will not only give him stronger allies on the continent, but the Flanders-based squad also has a close link with the development team of crack pro outfit Trek Segafredo.

That junior team, Alberto Contador Fundacion-Kometa, is mentored by the popular Spanish star who has just retired after a glittering career which yielded seven Grand Tours as well as scores of other famous victories.

“I’ll have the opportunity to do bigger races next season, like the Tour of Basque Country and the Philippe Gilbert Junior which I rode this year, but I can go over there and race with Contador’s team, which is pretty cool,” said the young all-rounder.

Wood, who will also be doing his A-levels next summer, has just come off the back of an excellent campaign.

It started with wins against senior riders in the Primavera RR (Third/Fourth Cat) and Hampshire’s Tour of the Milburys in the spring and continued in road races and time-trials for the next six months.

He won the ‘King Of The Mountains’ and ‘Most Aggressive Rider’ awards at France’s GP de Chevres (12th overall); finished 20th at the prestigious Ronde des Vallees and rode well in Spain’s Junior Basque Tour as a guest for the HMT Academy, the nursery team of the JLT Condor pro squad.

Wood also caught the eye with a gutsy ride in the UK’s most important stage race, the Junior Tour of Wales, which was won by York- shire’s brilliant Tom Pidcock, who went on to win the gold medal in the Time Trial at the recent world championships in Norway.

All those performances helped to clinch Wood’s signing for Soenens-Boom, and he is now heading into a winter training programme which is likely to include some ‘fun’ outings in the South West Cyclo-Cross League.

The SW Regional Championship round at his home course at the Torbay Velopark is on December 3.

This article first appeared in the Independent. To get the latest articles when they appear, buy the print edition every Sunday or subscribe to our online edition HERE.