GOSPORT youngster Alex Collins admitted the nerves were jangling before taking part in the Prudential RideLondon Youth Boys Grand Prix on Saturday, but claimed the experience will live long in the memory.
Collins was part of the South Region team for the 10-lap race on Saturday and finished a creditable 27th, with West Midlands’ Jake Stewart coming home in first.
Prudential RideLondon is a two-day festival of cycling, with the Youth Grand Prix allowing riders such as Collins to compete on the closed streets of the capital.
And the 16-year-old said the fact he was joining forces with riders he normally competes against to form the South Region squad made it all the more special.
‘It’s a lot of fun to race with those guys,’ explained the Fareham Wheelers rider.
‘We compete against each other a lot so we know each other’s styles and we’re all good friends off the track, so it’s been quite easy to work together.
‘It’s all been pretty exciting. I’ve never done anything like this before, or even close to this big. It was a bit nuts.
‘There were loads of people and my parents invited some of their friends to watch as well.
‘They’ve really bigged me up to them so I was more nervous about impressing them I think. But the nerves were a good thing and I put them into my legs.’
The Youth Boys Grand Prix was one of a number of events taking place over the weekend, including the Women’s Grand Prix, the RideLondon-Surrey Classic and the RideLondon-Surrey 100.
Crowds packed the streets in support of all the riders, with each event finishing along the iconic Mall.
But Collins says that he was so focused on the race, a lot of the iconic views passed him by.
‘I’m always really focused in the race, so I didn’t really see any of the scenery or the amazing buildings,’ added the Bay House School pupil.
‘I don’t even hear people cheering usually, so in some ways it was the same as normal.
‘I’ve done some big criterium races before, but last time out I crashed after one lap at nationals in Scotland. At least I got round this time!’
n Prudential RideLondon is the world’s largest festival of cycling. Prudential is proud to support people’s ambitions. Visit www.pru.co.uk/ambitions