Cyclist Harrison Wood

International recognition for cyclist Harrison Wood

Dave Thomas

Harrison Wood’s outstanding form across Europe, including a dramatic second place in Spain’s Tour of Navarre at the weekend, has earned the Torquay bike racer a first-ever place in the Great Britain team.

Wood, 21, received the call-up to ride in the prestigious Course de la Paix (The Peace Race), starting in the Czech Republic today, after being pipped for overall victory in northern Spain.

The news is reward for a series of stage wins and podium places for his French club AVC Aix-en-Provence, as the Torquay BGS old boy and former Mid-Devon CC starlet pursues his dream of becoming a WorldTour professional rider.

Six seconds and a crucial team radio malfunction – that’s all that separated Wood from victory after four gruelling days in Navarre.

In a tense final stage, which finished in the city of Pamplona, Wood held on to a hard-won lead and, with the help of his team-mate Oliver Knight, countered all his potential challengers – except one.

American Andrew Vollmer launched a nothing-to-lose attack with 20K of a 124K hill-packed stage to go.

Although Wood’s group closed the gap near the end, Vollmer had a 33-second advantage on the line – exactly his deficit at the start of the day.

But second-place on the stage gave him a six-second time bonus, and that was his margin of overall victory over Wood.

“We didn’t know exactly how far ahead Vollmer was,” said Wood of his radio problems.

“There was one other Spanish guy we were worried about in our group, but maybe I should have followed Vollmer anyway.

“It’s frustrating because we came to win, but getting the GB call is a silver lining on the cloud.”

It’s the closest that Wood has been to a major overall win, but the GB selectors could not ignore his form.

The Tour of Navarre attracts the best young climbers from Europe and South America, and was won in 2016 by current Team Ineos star Richard Carapaz, who’s just finished second in the Giro d’Italia.

MDCC’s fast-improving Callum Start was also a creditable 15th at the National Junior Road Championships in North Yorkshire.