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Torquay cyclist awaits epic Giro d’Italia challenge

Harrison Wood starts the Giro d’Italia this week

Torquay’s young pro Harrison Wood is ready to make cycling history in the South West by taking part in the Giro d’Italia, which starts this weekend.

The 23-year-old Wood has been included in the eight-man selection of the French team Cofidis for the grueling three-week Giro, which starts on Saturday near Turin and ends on May 26 in Rome.

The former Torquay Boys Grammar School pupil becomes only the third ever Mid-Devon CC rider to take part in one of cycling’s grand tours. The late Colin Lewis rode the Tour de France twice in the 1960s and Jeremy Hunt rode the Tour, the Spanish Vuelta and the Giro, the last time in 2012.

Resting after a 179km training ride near his second home in Aix-en-Provence, Wood said: “I’m excited and really looking forward to it, and it will be fun to get back to racing.

“My weight is the lightest it has been in two years, while I am still eating and drinking well, and I feel very good.

“Obviously I’ve never done a three-week race before, but last season I did the (Criterium) Dauphine and recently I did the Tours of Catalonia and the Basque Country, and those are the toughest of a week. .

“The last week is super difficult, as always in the Giro, but before then there could be quite a few opportunities to try something.”

It’s a remarkable achievement for Wood, who was competing in MDCC club runs for the first time – he was often left behind! – just ten years ago. But he persevered and honed his skills and endurance on the many hills of Devon.

After a successful junior career in Britain, Wood has lived and raced for teams in France, Belgium and the Netherlands, completing all the top races for aspiring pros before earning a two-year contract with Cofidis in 2023.

This year’s Giro will see him compete against many of the world’s best riders, including in-form favorite Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) of Slovenia. Cofidis has selected men from France, Italy, Poland, Spain, Germany and Great Britain, and their line-up is aimed at opportunistic stage wins.

The MDCC continues to dominate the South West Youth Road Series after the second round at the Wheal Jane circuit in Cornwall. Matt Holmes (U14), Lauren Fox (U14) and Edward Fraille-Whysall (U16) and Eva Fox (U16) all won their age group races.

Nick Makin also won the Elite/1/2 Category event, with Jason Kettle third. Other results: U10 – 3 Henry Hatton; U12 – 6 Thomas James, 7 Thomas Bloch, 8 Jacob Coles.

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