Gwyneth Parry (19) from Pontesbury, has been selected from more than 100 riders to be part of the prestigious ŠKODA Driver’s Seat Initiative (DSI) Cycling Academy.

Currently studying for her A Levels at Ludlow College, Parry will join Academy Principal, Dame Sarah Storey and complete the university-style programme that aims to provide ambitious female cyclists, aged between 17-22, with a route to the elite level of the sport.

A promising runner, previously representing North Wales in track, cross country and mountain running events, Parry only took up cycling during the first lockdown when she became injured with stress fractures of her legs and needed to find a new sporting focus that wouldn’t affect her injuries.

Parry comments: “I couldn’t believe that I got through to the testing day at the London Velodrome, and when I got the call to say that I had been selected I was in shock but did remember to accept straight away! I would like to thank my cycling coach, George Evans, for helping me to improve and suggesting that I apply. My dream is to race for a professional cycling team.”

Parry, who currently trains up to six days a week on her bike, continues: “When I was injured during the first lockdown I dusted off my road bike and put my focus into cycling. I have recently been racing for another cycling team and really enjoyed it but there were no other girls in my age group. I am looking forward to joining the Academy, meeting the other riders and learning from Dame Sarah Strorey.”

More than 100 aspiring female amateur riders applied to join the Academy by providing details of their cycling experience, ambitions, and training schedule. A total of 17 riders were then shortlisted to attend the second stage of the selection process, a testing day at the Lee Valley VeloPark, London on Monday 17th May.

Gwyneth was put through her paces in a series of cycling tests that included a peak power test, a three-minute maximal test and a 12-minute steady state challenge. She then completed laps of the outdoor closed circuit to test her physical handling and pacing abilities.

Dame Sarah Storey, Academy Principal and Team GB’s most successful Paralympian, commented: “Gwyneth impressed everyone with her calm and controlled approach to the whole day. She rode the tests with a fluid and relaxed style that made it look effortless despite the power she was putting out. On the road bike test, it was clear she has the capacity to be a well drilled member of a team with a huge potential.”

The Academy programme will provide Gwyneth with the opportunity to experience the life of a professional rider, covering the performance, nutrition and media profile required to be a modern-day pro cyclist. The 2021 schedule also offers the chance to race in the Women’s National Road and Circuit Series and attend ŠKODA sponsored events, which include the Women’s Tour and the Tour Series.

Gwyneth will receive regular reviews and undergo intense training in order to graduate on to the next year of the programme, whether that’s a place on the Storey Racing roster, a place on a UCI Women’s World Tour team or another year as part of the Academy. The university-style programme also delivers an educational aspect through the social media and promotion strands.

Gwyneth will join four existing senior Academy riders who joined in 2019. Morgan Newberry, Rebecca Richards, Megan Dickerson and Meredith Gilbert are starting the final year of their Academy experience and hope to graduate at the end of 2021 by joining a professional cycling team.

Pictured: Gwyneth Parry.