AN exceptionally talented 17-year-old Ripon Grammar School student blew the competition away at a prestigious regional cycling championships.

Abi Smith won both the junior and women’s titles to be crowned Yorkshire champion, but also was the overall women’s race winner, which included top cyclists from all three northern regions.

This is Abi’s first season of dedicated cycling, as she was a triathlete up until last year, and she says that the lack of expectation benefitted her.

“I knew there were some really good competitors in the race but, in a way, I had less to lose as I had no past results to measure myself against,” she said.

“I felt really nervous because I always put pressure on myself, but I thought I’d just go for it, because I’d regret it if I didn’t.”

Abi, who was selected for the elite GB cycling team last year, was racing against around 40 other competitors in the Yorkshire Road Race Championships, some of whom were more than twice her age, and with many more years of cycling experience.

The event, held at Terrington, also incorporated the North-East and North West championships.

Abi said: “I had ambitions to win the juniors. I didn’t expect to win the women’s race overall.

“It was amazing. I was a bit speechless.”

It was a particularly hilly 33-mile course and Abi, who is from Oswaldkirk, won the slight uphill sprint finish by a few bike lengths.

She said: “I felt strong early on and so I put in around six or seven attacks to try and break the field up a bit more each time, and we ended up with a group of six on the final lap.

“It was comfortable towards the end but I had to go full out. It was a hard sprint uphill at the finish.”

Abi’s brother, Nathan smith, 18, who is studying at Leeds University, came seventh in the elite men’s race. And former RGS pupil Ben Mewes, 19, who is now at Loughborough University, finished 16th.

Boarding student Abi, who has also competed for her country in mountain running championships, trains on the hills of nearby Nidderdale after school.

She hopes to study a sports-related subject at university once she has finished her PE, psychology, biology and geography AS levels/