Great Britain call gives Wakefield cyclist Wood chance to make amends on Paris-Roubaix cobbles

Ollie Wood
Ollie Wood

Wakefield cyclist Ollie Wood will pull on the red, white and blue of Great Britain to race in the prestigious Paris-Roubaix Juniors road race - and he has some unfinished business.

The 17-year-old has been selected as part of a six-man team to ride in the gruelling 128.3km race in France on Sunday, April 7.

It will be the second time riding over the demanding cobbles of the well-known route for the Outwood Grange Academy student, who is out to make amends after suffering disappointment 12 months ago.

Wood got the call to compete in the race for the first time last year but crashed out and admitted his preparations were not what they should have been.

Now the cycling ace, who is on British Cycling’s Olympic Development Programme, is determined to put last year’s failures to bed.

“I’ve got a lot of things to put right after what happened last year,” said Wood.

“I crashed about 40km in. It was my first time riding the route and to be honest I don’t think I prepared for the scale of the event. It wasn’t what I was expecting.

“My positioning wasn’t great and getting in position in the race is crucial. If you’re at the back when you get to the cobbles you’re in trouble and it’s savage in the lead-up to getting in position.

“It was the first time I’ve been in a big, big race abroad but at least I’ve got good experience in competing in it this time.”

The Wakefield rider was left with having to board the ‘broom wagon’, for the “stragglers” at the back of the race, after his crash last year.

Wood is desperate to avoid the same fate a year on and he is not just settling for a race finish, with his target a place in the top 20.

“It’s an iconic race and for the seniors its nickname is the ‘hell of the north’ which says it all,”he said.

“And if it’s wet it can be even more of a nightmare.

“But my target is to finish and to get the top 20 this year. Only about 80 finished it from 190 riders last year.

“At the start of the season I sat down with my coaches and filled in a ‘goals sheet’ and to get in the top 20 at Paris-Roubaix was one of my goals.”

The race takes place a few hours before the senior stars compete, on the latter stages of the route, and finishes with laps around the Roubaix velodrome.

“The crowds are big because you have people already in place waiting for the senior action,” Wood continued.

“There are plenty of Belgian cycling fans there having some beers at the side of the road!”

Wood is one of six British Cycling ODP athletes who will compete in the 11th edition of the race.

He will join fellow second year juniors Tao Geoghegan Hart, Jake Ragan, Chris Lawless and Scott Davies, as well as first year rider Matt Gibson.

The race attracts the best young cyclists from around the world and track cycling champion and Olympic gold medalist Geraint Thomas won the event in 2004 with Ian Stannard, currently at Team Sky, backing him up in second.

Last year Jonathan Dibben, now on British Cycling’s Academy programme, recorded an impressive third-place finish.

Paris-Roubaix is the first race in the 2013 UCI Juniors’ Nations Cup Series.

Wood is unsure whether he, and the British team, will be competing in every event due to funding priorities but success in the races would put Great Britain in a good position September’s UCI Junior Road Race Championship.

The top ten nations in the Nations Cup will get six riders in the end-of-series event, with the remaining nations only allowed five competitors.

Wood will warm-up for next weekend’s big race with a ride at London’s Redbridge Cycling Centre this weekend.