Brighton’s Skoda DSI Cycling Academy rider to face mentor Dame Sarah Storey in the National Closed Circuit Championships

Lewes' Meredith Gilbert will compete in the National Closed Circuit Championship on Sunday 20th October. Picture courtesy of Sam East
Lewes' Meredith Gilbert will compete in the National Closed Circuit Championship on Sunday 20th October. Picture courtesy of Sam East

Meredith Gilbert will compete at a professional level against her ŠKODA DSI Cycling Academy mentor, Paralympic champion Dame Sarah Storey, at the Thruxton 2019 National Closed Circuit Championship on Sunday 20th October.

The RTTC (Road Time Trial Council) Closed Circuit Championships will host both an individual and a 4-Up Team Time Trial at the Thruxton Motor Racing Circuit in Hampshire. Each is a battle against the clock around the 11.8-mile course that covers five laps of the circuit.

Gilbert, 21, from Lewes, Brighton, is one of just five riders selected to be part of the inaugural all-female Skoda DSI Cycling Academy.

The Skoda DSI Cycling Academy was established in May this year and is open to female cyclists aged between 17-25. Its aim is to provide young, amateur cyclists with a pathway to the elite level by giving them the experience of being a professional rider, covering the performance, nutrition and media profile required to be a modern-day professional athlete. Over 400 riders applied to join the Academy and a final five were selected following a trials day at the Lee Valley Velo Park in June.

The London Southbank University Civil Engineering student and part-time apprentice at HOP Consulting in Hove only took up cycling properly in May this year and will be competing in her first ever time trial event.

Gilbert said: “It’s been quite a journey on the bike for me so far this year. I took up cycling properly after a running injury and only had two weeks of cycling experience before the Academy trials day. It’s slightly scary but I’m looking forward to the National Time Trials Championship. It is my first big race and first ever time trial. It will be a steep learning experience, but I’m determined to enjoy it and give it everything I’ve got.

“I’d like to say a big thanks to [Team Storey manager] Barney and Sarah Storey for their support so far. The Skoda Cycling Academy has given me an incredible opportunity - I never thought I would be able to race in such big events and here I am heading to the National Team Time Trials.”

Meredith will be joined in her team by three other members of the Skoda DSI Cycling Academy, Jazz Jones, Rebecca Richards and Morgan Newberry, to form Storey Racing Red and will be managed on the day by Storey Racing team manager Barney Storey.

Dame Sarah Storey, who collected her 36th World gold medal at the UCI Para-Cycling World Championships in the Netherlands, last month, was chosen by Skoda UK as Academy Principal.

Dame Sarah said: “Meredith has made huge strides during the course of our 2019 Academy programme. The events we have participated in have helped to build a strong work ethic and resilience. Meredith has quickly adapted and coped very well with some very challenging days on the bike. She has continued to seek challenges and race opportunities including some gruelling triathlons which have further added to her race experience.

“I’m delighted to see the first year of the Skoda DSI Cycling Academy ending with a race opportunity as race days always bring out the best in a team and sharing that challenge of competition is a powerful experience. Not only will Meredith compete in the individual event at the National Closed Circuit Time Trial Championships but she will also get the opportunity to race in a team when she tackles the Team Time Trial event on the same day. I wish her the very best of luck.”

Since joining the Academy, Meredith has undertaken a training ride with Storey Racing ahead of a British National Road Race Championships event, ridden Stage 4 of the Tour de France with the Internationelles and Donnons des Elles au Velo Jour-1 cycling team, and completed L’Etape du Tour and Prudential Ride London 100 with Dame Sarah’s race team.

Škoda started life as a bicycle company in 1895. Cycling has remained important to Škoda since that day and the brand has honoured its heritage ever since. In tandem with its headline sponsorship of key events in the cycling calendar, Škoda is championing gender equality in the professional tour series.