Biology student crowned cycling champion

A Keele student is celebrating success after taking the top spot in a gruelling outdoor cycling competition, after almost giving up the sport for good just a few years ago.

Cai Davies, a third-year biology student, was crowned champion in the recent Welsh Cyclocross Championships held in Abergavenny, and is preparing for his next event in Belgium over Christmas.

Cai started cycling in 2013 with cyclocross and mountain biking, adding in road races as he progressed, but before starting university he suffered a knee injury which meant he was away from the sport for a year and a half.

On the verge of quitting, Cai sought the help of Benn Digweed, a Teaching Fellow and Clinical Physiotherapist at Keele University, and students from the Physiotherapy and Rehabilitation and Exercise undergraduate courses, who worked with Cai to rehabilitate and provide massage for recovery as part of the Talented Athlete programme. He thanked them for their role in his success saying that since their intervention he has gone from strength to strength.

Cai said: “The Welsh Cyclocross Championships was a race I’ve been targeting for a while. There was a good strong front row of riders all with the capability to take the championship, many being previous winners of the title including the current defending champion.

“After a slow but progressive start I soon hit the front and started to get a lead after taking some big risks on fast technical descents. However soon after I took a bad crash over the bars which caused bike problems, costing me around 30 crucial seconds to fix. I was now back into third, and just kept my head down.

“I managed to catch up and move into second, and pull away from the rider behind, only just falling short of catching the leader, Steven James, a regular elite podium placer in the British National Trophy. I finished just 23 seconds down on Steven, but he wasn’t eligible for the Welsh title, meaning I took it and became the Welsh Champion.

“It was a brutal and demanding course in cold rainy conditions the whole way, but I’m now extremely excited and proud to be representing the Welsh national colours in my races for the next year. Next up will be a three-week racing block with the professionals out in Belgium where I’ll be spending Christmas.”