ABERGAVENNY'S BILL OWEN INDUCTED INTO HALL OF FAME
ABERGAVENNY cycling legend Bill Owen has been honoured for his services to the sport in by being inducted into the British Cycling Hall of Fame.
Owen, 72, was one of the first two Welshmen to receive the honour, along with Team Sky Principal Sir Dave Brailsford, who hails from North Wales, at a glittering ceremony in Manchester on Wednesday evening.
The man at the heart of the Abergavenny Festival of Cycling in its' various formats over the past thirty years said he was thrilled to receive the induction, one of seven people from across the UK honoured this year.
Owen won the Welsh Road Race Championships in 1963 but gave up a promising career as a Welsh international cyclist just a few years later as business interests took over.
Yet what was a premature end to his serious days in the saddle was only the beginning of his incredible life as a cycling administrator and event promoter which has seen him bring, in the last decade that the Festival of Cycling has been running in its' current formate, worldwide cycling stars to the roads of Monmouthshire.
He is a former chairman and president of Welsh Cycling, has been awarded the Welsh and British Cycling Organiser of the Year awards for the Festival on a number of occasions in the past decade and was given the Welsh Cycling Lifetime Achievement award in 2013.
Yet this induction, alongside other legends of the sport in the UK, was a real suprise and 'an honour'.
Owen said: "I was very surprised. It was a big shock although it seems my family knew all about it!
"It is a very big honour to have been inducted along with Sir Dave Brailsford. For all that Wales has done for British Cycling, I was surprised that it took so long for any Welshman or woman to be inducted onto that.
"There are a lot of riders out there who, I think, will be on there soon."
And Owen said cycling in Wales was in a good place at the moment with stars like Geraint Thomas, Elinor Barker and Owain Doulll among many flying the flag on the world stages like the Tour de France and the Olympic Games.
"It is in very good health here," said Owen. "There are a lot of new riders who are coming through as well as the established riders like Geraint and Owain and a few others.
"I remember Geraint when he first started with Maindy Flyers in Cardiff and moved on under the wing of Welsh Cycling and then onto British Cycling with the Olympic Academy riders."
He added: "As far as British Cycling goes, this is it - the top of the tree - and I really do appreciate it. It is very satisfying. I must have had quite a bit of support from people to be nominated for this award and it is very satisfying to know that."
The honour has come as Owen gets to work on the 11th edition of the Abergavenny Festival of Cycling since it returned to the national cycling agenda in 2006, and the dates for the events have been announced.
The Iron Mountain Sportif, the annual mass participation ride, and Cycling Activity Day in Bailey Park, Abergavenny, takes place on June 24 with entries for the Sportif opening in a week's time on Saturday November 5.
The Monmouthshire Grand Prix on June 25 will be a round of the British Cycling Junior Road Race Series, with the Wales Open Criterium - the popular races around Abergavenny town centre - moving to Friday July 7.