LEVENS cycling star James Knox will make his international debut and represent Great Britain at the UCI Road World Championships in Toscana, Italy on Saturday.
The 17-year-old Queen Elizabeth School student will join some famous names of the sport with reigning Tour de France winner Chris Froome headlining the men’s elite road team.
Olympic champion Sir Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish will also feature, with Olympic silver medallist Lizzie Armistead taking part in the elite women’s race.
The 80-mile junior race is the highlight of Knox’s career to date, with the young cyclist clearly proud of his selection.
“It’s the top honour for any athlete to represent their country so I’m very pleased,” he added.
“I didn’t let myself believe that I was assured of a place so I wouldn’t be too upset if I didn’t get the news I was hoping for but I’m really happy.
“It was a bit of an odd year, I had a broken thumb at one stage and I was ill for quite a few of the early races so I didn’t really get going until quite late on.
“But the ball started to roll and I got a few good results which got me over the line and ultimately led to this.”
The race takes place on Italian soil for the first time since Varese in 2008, with the junior course culminating in a tough 4.4km climb which gains 225m in altitude.
The selection of national junior hill climb champion Knox follows two stage wins at the Junior Tour of Wales in August where he was crowned King of the Mountains.
And after finishing fifth in the four-day Green Mountain stage race in Vermont, the Champion System/Maxgear/Base rider is clear about his aims and objectives this weekend.
“It’s my first time with Great Britain and I hope to make a good impression,” he said.
“I would like British Cycling to look back and remember me as someone who rode well and did everything else immaculately.
“Even if I’m not going for the win, the target is to be in the mix towards the end.
“If I’m in that position and hanging on in that last group of riders I would come back really happy with that.”
And despite holding firm ambitions for a future career in the sport, Knox prefers to resist looking too far ahead and instead focus on the here and now.
“The big dream is to be able to ride full-time, that would be incredible, although any possibility of that is a long way away,” he said.
“But I would love to get a good result this weekend and see where we go from there.”