A TEENAGE cyclists is set to compete against the best riders in Europe when he spends six weeks showcasing his talent in Belgium.

Patrick Fotheringham, 19, from near Luston, is currently competing in West Flanders where cycling is one of the most watched sports.

After starting racing competitively as a youth rider Fotheringham progressed to ride in the National Junior Series and is now ready to compete abroad.

"All my heroes in cycling have either raced in Belgium or have lived there so it will be cool to race on the roads which I have watched some of the biggest races competed on," said Fotheringham.

"My dad knows an ex-British professional who has set up a base for junior and under-23 riders to race out there so I got in contact with them.

"I've never raced outside of Britain or Northern Ireland so it will be a completely new experience for me and I have heard good things.

"I'm expecting the racing to be a lot longer and harder over there and I have heard you have to be going very well to get placings. It's going to be pretty brutal as races are either on the flat where you get bashed around by the wind or going up short and steep cobbled climbs.

"Racing against senior riders could mean that some of the best professionals in the world turn up to race which is not something you get in this area."

Fotheringham who finishing his studies at Hereford Sixth Form college last year rides for development team Halesowen Academy, which supports junior and under-23 riders.

Last year he managed two wins and a day in the points jersey at the Newry Three Day.

"The team picks riders up when they are quite raw talents and builds them up to be really good bike riders," added Fotheringham.

"This season I had a nasty crash early on which took me three weeks to recover from but I have built myself up over the last couple of months and achieve two fifth placings in the Castle Combe elite races.

"I have progressed from last year when I was suffering in every race, this year I'm riding really aggressively and going for the win in races."

Before travelling to Belgium, Fotheringham showed his form during the Newry Three Day in Northern Ireland where he finished second on the hardest stage, which was 73 miles long and included climbs in the Mournes national park.