Rhys Britton finds himself in an unexpected position. Not just because he’s in the mix in the endurance standings at the UCI Track Champions league, but that he’s taking part in the competition at all.
“My season was originally going to finish before the World Championships [in Roubaix in October],” he tells Eurosport ahead of the second round in Lithuania on Saturday.
“And then I got the call up to do the Worlds and I was buzzing. I got to the Worlds, had a good scratch race [winning a bronze medal] and I got invited to the Track Champions League. If I knew I was going to be doing the Mallorca round, it probably would have been a bit easier, mentally, rather than getting pushed back [into my season], but it ended up alright.”
“Alright” is something of an understatement. Although Britton had, in his own description of it, a “terrible” elimination race in Mallorca, a somewhat spectacular scratch race, in which he finished third behind New Zealand’s Corbin Strong, means he travels to Lithuania in a very much “up there” in the overall battle.
Asked what his hopes are for the second round of the competition, Britton replies with a pretty straightforward answer: “A win in the scratch. I think I’d be happy with that.” Yes, you’d imagine he might.
To achieve a better result in the elimination race, Britton says first and foremost he plans to “be more vigilant. I’ll probably just get to the front as quickly as possible, and then just fight like hell, rather than trying to be a bit smarter and sit a little bit further back.”
Top three is what he’s aiming for in the Devil. After that, who knows? Winning the whole thing is far from out of the question.
Without coming across in the slightest bit arrogant, Britton is not afraid to reveal the extent of his ambition. He’s already looking towards next year’s Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.
“To get the Welsh dragon on the top step. I think that would be very special,” he says.
After that, “I’d like an Olympic medal and a few World titles,” within the next five years.
“Proud Welshman” might seem to some like a tautology because, well, is there another kind? Nevertheless, Britton seems more than ready to inherit the patriotic responsibilities from the likes of Luke Rowe and Geraint Thomas when their careers eventually come to an end. As juniors they even rode for the same club in Cardiff.
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“I’ve never really thought about it, but I guess it’s pretty cool if someone watches you and decides they want to get on a bike as well,” he says. “That’s all our job is really, isn’t it, inspiring everyone else?”
He’s already a role model for one family member. “I’ve got a four-year-old nephew who is absolutely cycling crazy,” he says. “He did a little race a couple weeks ago, and is absolutely buzzing.”
The youngster will be in the Lee Valley stands to watch his uncle race when the Champions League comes to London next week.
For most riders, this would be the end of their season but Rhys Britton is already well into the next one.
“I took a little break after Mallorca,” he says. “I think mentally that’s probably the end of the season for me. I’m starting to look at the next couple of rounds as like a new year. I’m fresh, raring to go.”
There’s going to be no stopping him.
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The UCI Track Champions League returns for round two on November 27 and you can watch all of the action live from 16:30 GMT on the Eurosport app, eurosport.co.uk and discovery+. Find out more about the “mind-blowing” new era for track cycling.