Birchwood High School student William Gilbank registers cycling wins in Zondervoorde Zonnebeke race in Belgium and on Youth Tour of Scotland
William Gilbank was inspired by young men who gave their lives to secure the freedom of others when he triumphed on his first international ride.
The Birchwood High School student competed against 90 of Belgium's best under-17s in the 40-mile Zondervoorde Zonnebeke race in Flanders.
Gilbank attacked on the third of 12 laps on the closed-road course and moved away with a rival – between them they took first and second on each lap to gain 10 and five Euros respectively each time.
Eventually they had six minutes on the rest of the peloton and Gilbank launched a successful sprint 200 metres out to take the victory.
The win came after he had achieved a win representing the Eastern Region in the prestigious Youth Tour of Scotland.
"It was amazing to win in Flanders," said Gilbank. "This is the true heartland of cycling and it was just fantastic."
"I felt in great condition after the youth tour, but I was also motivated after visiting the war graves in the town in which we raced. Some graves were of young men only two years older than me. Somehow this made me ride harder."
The three-day Youth Tour of Scotland was based in Perthshire and featured 90 of Great Britain and Ireland's top under-16s.
Gilbank began by coming fifth in the one-mile prologue, just two seconds down on the leader, before finishing off a scintillating bunch sprint to win the 40-mile closed-road race. It saw him gain bonus seconds, take the yellow jersey and pick up the green jersey for best sprinter.
The Eastern team came two seconds behind Wales in the five-mile team trial, but Gilbank crashed in the second road race when a mistake by a Welsh rider as the rain fell brought the peloton down. The Stortford schoolboy picked himself up unscathed and made chase, but he lost time and the yellow jersey.
The final stage was a circuit race around the grounds of Strathallan School, the host campus, and, although aching slightly from the crash, managed to stay at the front of the race to claim a respectable 14th-place in the stage.
"The experience of riding what was essentially a professional stage race was amazing," said Gilbank. "We had closed roads, motorbike outriders, podiums and teams to ride with.
"This, as well as wearing my first yellow jersey, was just brilliant and has left me super motivated for the future."
Gilbank is kindly supported by Matt's Auto Repair Services, Saffron Walden Round Table, TLC Live, Pedal Potential and Fosters Schoolwear. For more information on how to support the budding Olympian and GB rider, visit gilbankracing.com or email email@example.com.