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Family holidays in France inspired young Matiss Robertson from Barcaldine to get on his bike.
And next month Argyll’s latest cycling sensation will compete in his first competition in that destination.
‘When I was really young I tried cycling and thought ‘what’s that all about?’, he told The Oban Times.
‘My mum is French though and my grandparents still live over there so we go to France quite regularly. Cycling is huge over there.
‘My granddad got me into following the Tour de France and I thought it was amazing. I was blown away by the exciting cycling and the support of the crowds.’
Now aged 17 and preparing to make the jump from Oban High School to college where he will study sport, exercise and fitness, Matiss joined North Argyll Cycle Club two years ago and only began doing ‘proper racing’ at the start of this road racing season in March when he also joined the RT23 team.
Since then he has been steadily establishing himself on the British Cycling circuit, already gaining enough classification points – 12 – to move up to third category.
Racing earlier this month, Matiss came away with a superb second place in the 84km Moray Firth Road Race after undergoing a strategical race and an attacking climb.
‘I prefer the hills,’ he added. I’m quite light so don’t find it as hard as some of the other racers. On the other hand, my sprint needs some work as I don’t have much muscle.’
Matiss heads to France next month where he will compete in a road race in the Jura region where his grandparents live.
‘I’m really looking forward to racing in warm weather and on lovely smooth roads,’ he added. ‘I hope I can make my grandfather and the rest of my family proud. Mum Tania and dad Simon, along with my younger sister Kate, all cycle too and are really supportive. The benefits of joining a club like North Argyll Cycle Club are immense also. I can’t understate enough the support and encouragement I have had from them. Not to mention the regular time trials and other races they put on. It has all helped my cycling greatly.’
Currently on 26 points, Matiss is now aiming to make the second category which will require him to amass a similar number by December this year.