Tour de France winner Geraint Thomas will be in Leamington on Wednesday when the fourth stage of the OVO Energy Tour of Britain makes its way through Warwick District.
Stage four of the Tour will pass through Kenilworth and Warwick then head out to Ebrington, returning to the district via Long Itchington and Southam before finishing on Newbold Terrace.
However, it is not the first time the Team Sky rider has raced in the town, with Steve Meredith, organiser of the Victoria Park Criteriums, recollecting “a chubby little schoolboy” who travelled across from south Wales in the early noughties and marked himself out for greatness.
“Some 16 or 17 years ago, when the Kenilworth Wheelers were still running races around Victoria Park in Leamington, a young schoolboy from South Wales turned up to race one Saturday,” recalls Meredith.
“He won both schoolboy races (20 laps each) along with all three sprint primes in each race. The second race he won by lapping the whole field on his own.”
The performance led to Meredith keeping a keen eye on the progress of the Maindy Flyers youngster and he says his subsequent Olympic, World Championship and Tour de France success has not changed the “modest young man” he met in Leamington.
“This polite and modest young man certainly had some class and subsequently went on to do great things.
“He is still polite and modest to a fault and now we’ve just seen him on the top step on the Champs Elysees in Paris. Brilliant.”
Sadly, the Victoria Park races no longer take place as a result of health and safety issues, with the insurance costs making the events unviable.
However, Kenilworth Wheelers will be involved in the Tour of Britain on Wednesday, assisting at the King of the Mountains area at the top of Edge Hill.
l For information about when and where the Tour of Britain will be coming through the district, turn to pages 2 and 3.