A KEIGHLEY rider is looking to pick up national points at the Ilkley Town Centre Races, writes Scott Blau.

Matthew Fox is looking to build on career-defining victories in Ireland’s Ras Tailteann stage race at the event held in Ilkley on Friday, June 30. The first of five races starts at 5.30pm.

The Elite Men’s Lister Horsfall Grand Prix Race, in which Fox is hoping to add to two Irish first place finishes, and winning the coveted ‘Points Classification’, starts at 8.30pm this Friday.

Keighley News: Cyclist Matt Fox training on Keighley roadsCyclist Matt Fox training on Keighley roads (Image: Matt Fox)

Fox races for the Wheelbase Cabtech Castelli team, which is a national bicycle retailer with a large shop in Ilkley managed by former professional, Bernie Berns, well-known locally for, among other things, his years running Airedale Cycles in Keighley.

Because the Ilkley Town Centre Races are on British Cycling’s National Point’s Calendar, professional riders, including Fox, will be out in force to grab what points they can for national recognition. This race is an hour of beautiful agony – beautiful for spectators, agony for the riders. Fox, when asked about coming back from Ireland to race, said: “I jumped at the chance to race locally, both to support my sponsor and for the opportunity to be cheered on by friends and family.”

There will be a carnival-like atmosphere along The Grove in Ilkley, which serves as the start/finish straight.

In addition to popular restaurants and pubs on The Grove, there are food and drink stands where spectators can catch all the action.

The first race starts at 5.30pm with the MAS Design Under-16s Race. This is for the youngest racers, both girls and boys.

Keighley News: Matt Bostock, of WiV Sungod, in action during the Lister Horsfall Men's Grand Prix wearing the National Champion’s JerseyMatt Bostock, of WiV Sungod, in action during the Lister Horsfall Men's Grand Prix wearing the National Champion’s Jersey (Image: Alex Whitehead, swpix.com)

Next up, at 6pm is the first Women’s Race. These are serious competitors who are working their way up cycling’s strict ladder of experience.

At 6.40pm, the Ilkley Cycle Club Men’s Race kicks off. What follows is 40+ minutes of controlled chaos as Category two, three and four racers torture themselves around the tight one-mile circuit.

The light should be softening by the time the Elite Women’s Race begins at 7.30pm. There will be professional racers mixed in with the top-ranked amateurs, including the Nation’s newly crowned Woman’s Road Race Champion.

The night’s final race is the big one, the Elite Men’s Lister Horsfall Grand Prix, which will feature Fox. Once the racing is done, spectators are encouraged to crowd the platform set up on The Grove to watch the winners in each race accept their trophies and winnings. The prize money includes £2,100 for the Elite Racers, both men and women – cycling being one of the few sports where equal rewards for woman are becoming the norm.