HEREFORDSHIRE'S cycle team riders have enjoyed several strong wins and numerous podium placings over the last few weeks on their route towards peak form for the Welsh and National championships.

Former national junior champion Ceri Pritchard has won three events and finished a close second in two others, being beaten on both occasions by other national medals hopefuls.

In doing so, Pritchard has lowered his personal best time for 10 miles to 20.16, and for 25 miles to 50.45 - times he needed to achieve to qualify for the national championship events, and also led a team 1, 2 and a 1, 2, 3 in South Wales time trials.

Dave Dickerson has won two events for the team in two weeks, the first of which relegated former national champion Ian Cammish to second position in an event in Cambridge, and the other was an event run on the same course as will be used for the Welsh Championships.

In the Welsh event, team manager Paul Osborne finished in third position with Cynric Williams, fourth, and Derek Rogers, fifth, to seal the team prize easily.

Dickerson won in a fast time of 55.49 in very windy conditions, with the other team riders close behind, all of them inside one minute of the winning time. Bren Parker also won the ladies prize convincingly in 1.04.08.

Eleven of the team's riders will be competing for the Welsh senior men's, ladies' and junior titles next weekend, with a similar number in the national 10-mile championships near Nottingham.

The high point for the team so far this season was an impressive win in the Leicester 50km 4up, where Pritchard, Darren Willetts, Barry Charlton and Worcester Cycle Centre's Tim Wood won the event in a new course record of 1.04.24.

In sunny conditions on the rolling six hills course they were nearly three minutes faster than the second-placed team of Sherwood CC, although they were denied a clash with the strong API bikes team as two of their riders failed to turn up on the day.

The previous weekend Barry Charlton and Jon Surtees had got the better of two of the strongest API riders in a 2 man team time trial - pushing former national champions Sam Barker and Zak Carr into second place by 11 seconds over a 25-mile course on their home turf in Norfolk.

These events were the first of several planned trial runs of the technical discipline of team time trialling for the riders before the national championships at this discipline in July.