A VALE of Clwyd university student has been crowned the junior British champion of hill climb cycling.

Chris Mann, from Ruthin, began cycling aged 13 after seeing his dad and brother training around the Clwydian hills for a long-distance charity challenge. Just five years later the 18-year-old has broken the finishing line tape of the prestigious Junior British Hill Climb Champion 2019.

A first-year sports science student at the University of Bangor, Mr Mann, who represented Welsh Cycling aged 16, dedicated ‘freshers week’ to training ahead of the top youth championship in Devon which he said was “a huge advantage”.

“Bangor is such a fantastic place for a cyclist; the mountains have been amazing for my training and is definitely a reason why I was in such good shape for the nationals,” the former Ysgol Brynhyfryd pupil said.

Mr Mann beat more than 300 riders on the dreaded 350-metre climb up Haytor Hill with a time of 13.47 minutes, topping his second and third place opposition by 13 seconds.

The ambitious teenager, who rides for the Velotik Race team based at the Manchester Velodrome, has already taken gold medal at the Welsh Junior Hill Climbing Championship this year and said he hopes the UK win “will raise my profile substantially”.

“I have progressed a lot over the past year, and the fact that I have been able to do consistent training has had a big impact on my race results,” he said. “Studying and training has been good, my lectures and the [University of Bangor’s] School of Sport, Health and Exercise Sciences are very positive about my training and racing needs.

“I have to be disciplined and organised to be able to get the work done and train to the standard that I want to.”

Mr Mann said he now plans to step up is training again with the Marsh Tracks Race Team, the top cycling club for North Wales youth and junior riders over the coming years with the end goal to compete on the international stage.