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Tactical John Paul snatches victory from former champ

By Alan Shields

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John Paul, from Lybster, in action. He has won the Edinburgh Grand Prix International Sprint.
John Paul, from Lybster, in action. He has won the Edinburgh Grand Prix International Sprint.

A CAITHNESS cyclist has pedalled ahead to win the Edinburgh Grand Prix International Sprint – snatching victory on the home straight from a former champion.

Current national junior sprint champion John Paul (18), originally from Lybster, confirmed in this latest outing that he has made further progress towards his ambition of reaching the top in his sport after stealing the glory at the last minute from 2008 grand prix champion Spaniard Itmar Esteban.

The professional athlete, who now lives in Oxfordshire, said getting his name engraved on the trophy was a great way to end an exciting weekend of cycling.

“It was a really great weekend’s racing and I just feel really pleased with myself to have won it with so much strong competition and to have my name alongside so many others,” he said.

“It was a tense finish. There were a couple of close rides in the final so it was quite an exciting finish.”

He added: “It’s all coming into place.”

John headed off international top riders from Holland, Spain, Belgium and Great Britain at the weekend event.

With 30 riders competing and only the top 12 progressing through to the knockout stages, the flying 200m qualifying TT was aways going to be an important race to get a good seeding.

In the sprint qualifying John’s time of 11.41 seconds was only two hundredths slower than former champion Esteban, and the duo justified their status as the top two seeds as they progressed comfortably through the knockout rounds to set up a mouth-watering showdown in the best-of-three final.

John displayed tactical and technical riding beyond his years as he tracked his opponent before powering off the final bend to comfortably win the first ride.

He underlined his growing confidence when he allowed Esteban to make a long run for home on the second ride and build an advantage of several bike lengths before timing his attack and blasting round the final corner to clinch the title by half a wheel on the line.

John was delighted at the win and also getting his name alongside some notable past winners such as Jason Kenny, Craig MacLean, Matt Crampton and Jamie Staff.

His next big event will be representing Great Britain at the Junior European Championships in Portugal at the end of July and three weeks later in August he will compete at the Junior World Championships in Moscow.

He is also taking part in another sprint event in Newcastle-under-Lyme.

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