TEENAGER Owain Roberts has a terrific mentor to tutor him in his cycling journey – former Tour de France stage winner Magnus Backstedt, writes Gary Baker.

Carmarthen-born Roberts is part of Backstedt’s team of young riders who are looking to follow in the footsteps of their coach and make it big on the big cycling stage.

And one of the targets is to become British Cycling’s top young rider of the year in the Junior Men’s Road Series, with the seventh round taking place in Monmouthshire on Sunday.

Roberts is handily placed to challenge for a top spot in the Series and is sure to be gunning for glory on Welsh soil at the Cwmtillery Glass Centre Monmouthshire Junior Grand Prix, centred at Grosmont.

He will be riding for a Wales team of four which will include Iwan Evans, who won the Welsh Junior Road Race Championships earlier this year where he beat Roberts into second spot.

The Junior Men’s Road Series is currently led by two members of the VC Londres team in Leo Hayter, who is first, and Oscar Nilsson-Julien.

And, with just two rounds of the Series to go after Sunday’s epic around Grosmont, which starts at 11am for a large loop around the villages of Monmouthshire before finishing with three laps of the roads around Grosmont, the heat is on for everyone to finish well on a demanding course that will suit climbers like Roberts.

Another Welsh youngster set to take part on Sunday is Cwmbran’s Zach Bridges, who has been earning rave reviews in cycling circles over the past year.

Sunday’s race is over a distance of 77.4 miles (124.6 kms) and starts at Hilston Park, Newcastle, Monmouthshire, and is due to finish between 2pm and 2.15pm.

Riders will take on one big loop of a route to Abergavenny before returning to Grosmont where they will tackle three laps of a tough circuit around the village before the victor is acclaimed.

Last year’s race was won by Yorkshire’s 18-year-old Mason Hollyman, who rated the victory as his best triumph of a superb year.

And Junior Grand Prix of Wales organiser Bill Owen MBE expects a similarly tough, yet exciting, contest this Sunday on a day where the hot weather could be a telling factor in who crosses the line first.

Owen said: “It is a testing course and one which has proved thrilling over the two years we have held the Junior Grand Prix of Wales.

“The people of Grosmont have really taken the event to their hearts and we expect a similar terrific atmosphere for this Sunday’s race.

“It is also great to see the next generation of British cycling stars on the roads of Monmouthshire.”

The race comes on the second day of the Abergavenny Festival of Cycling this weekend, which kicks-off on Saturday with the mass participation Iron Mountain Sportif ride where cyclists of all abilities can take on challenges from 20, 40, 70 and one hundred miles around Monmouthshire.

The Sportif will also include multi-sport activities in Bailey Park, Abergavenny, that are backed by the Welsh Rugby Union, Tennis Wales, Welsh Cycling, Gwent Outdoor Centres and Monmouthshire County Council as part of an initiative to get kids active.

For further information about the Abergavenny Festival of Cycling, the Iron Mountain Sportif, the activities in Bailey Park, to enter any of the rides and for more details about the Junior Grand Prix of Wales, go to www.abergavennyfestivalofcycling.co.uk