THE search is on to find the next Steven Burke after a new cycling club was officially opened.

Pendle Valo Cycling Club aims to encourage more youngsters to take up the sport and put them on the road to competitive racing.

Club officials hope the ‘Burke factor’ will help discover cycling stars of the future and follow in the footsteps of the Olympic Games gold medal winner from Colne.

“The aim is to encourage more youngsters to cycling and spot potential in those who show signs that they could go on and cycle at a competitive level,” said club secretary Adam Blakeley.

“We are lucky to have an Olympic Games gold medal winner from this borough in Steven Burke and he has been a great inspiration to youngsters in the area. It would be great if we could find another rider to follow in his footsteps.”

The club will be based at the Steven Burke Sports Hub at Swinden Playing Fields in Nelson once it officially opens later this year. It is run by Pendle Vale College where Blakeley, who has 20 years of cycling experience, is a teacher.

While unearthing future cycling stars is the ultimate goal, Blakeley says the initial aim is just to get more youngsters in the saddle.

“The beauty of cycling is that everyone can do it,” added Blakeley. “What we are doing is giving children something to aim for with those cycling skills.

“It is a great sport to be involved in. First of all, there is the health and fitness aspect to it. Secondly, cycling might appeal to those who might not be particular interested in other forms of sport.” The club, a satellite for Cycle Sport Pendle, will provide cycle coaching to all secondary pupils across the borough. It has purchased 20 mountain bikes so bikes are provided for all sessions.

It is a registered 'Go Ride' club that provides the bikes and equipment for all members. All year groups are encouraged will be encouraged to join what is the first step up the British Cycling performance ladder.

An initial six-week coaching course is being run by British Cycling coach Dylan Clayton for Pendle Vale Year Eight pupils. Clayton will then hold taster sessions and all the other secondary schools in the borough to encourage them to join Pendle Valo.

Pendle Valo will meet once a week initially on Mondays (3.30-4.30pm) but hopes to expand and have sessions on other evenings.

“At the moment we are working with Year Eight pupils at Pendle Vale and Dylan will run the initial six week sessions before I take over. He will then go in to other schools across the borough and hopefully we will get plenty of interest and see lots of youngsters coming and joining us at Pendle Valo.”

Thanks to the established Cycle Sport Pendle, the Colne Grand Prix cycle race and Ride with Brad – a cycle ride held Sir Bradley Wiggins last year – cycling is already popular across the borough.

“Possibly compared with other boroughs, cycling in Pendle is already popular and that is something we would love to tap in to,” added Blakeley.

However, the club is not all about finding the next budding Burke and wannabe Wiggins For as well as working towards competitive cycling, it will also cover Bikeability and road safety.

“Learning all about cycle safety is one aspect we will be concentrating on. Another aim is to get pupils riding bikes to school there will be a big push on this from the club in the summer term.”

For any more information contact the Club Secretary Adam Blakeley