PAUL Oldham is keen to build on the positives after a strong start in the opening MTB Cross Country World Cup meeting in South Africa.

The Colne ace finished 41st in Pietermaritzburg and hopes to use that as a springboard to move up the rankings when the series comes to Europe next month.

Oldham, riding for Barnoldswick-based Hope Factory Racing, was the first British finisher in the series opener as he targets selection for the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow this summer.

And the 36-year-old said he was pleased with his first international run of the season.

He said: “Up until now I have just been doing British races so this was a big change.

“It was a tough course with a lot of climbing and some really difficult sections.

“I enjoyed it though, I am pleased with how it went. I was gridded in 75th and that is a huge disadvantage because you lose so much ground to the leaders before you’ve really started.

“But I was able to pick riders off as I went and with each lap I was feeling more and more confident.”

Oldham is targeting a spot in England’s Commonwealth Games squad this summer and admitted that goal is spurring him on.

He added: “I haven’t done too many World Cup races over the past few seasons so it was tough going back into it but I want to get to the Commonwealths and I feel that is a realistic aim.

“I was the first British finisher out of four in South Africa and hopefully I can meet the selection criteria and get selected. That is the aim this season and the World Cups will help me build towards that.”

Oldham is sitting out the next round in Australia given the travelling distance and cost involved, but will be back in action when the series heads to Europe next month for rounds in the Czech Republic and Germany.

He added: “I think a lot of people will miss Australia and in the meantime I am competing in a British round in Cornwall in a couple of weeks.

“I have competed in one already in Essex when I was fourth and again I was the first Brit to finish so it is looking promising at the moment. I just have to keep trying to do my best and see where it takes me.”

Oldham, who also works full-time at Hope, was joined in South Africa by team-mate Adam Brayton, from Keswick, who finished 42nd in the downhill event.