FIVE-TIME Olympic gold medallist Bradley Wiggins has snapped up a cyclist from Richardsons-TREK ahead of the new season.

Rhys Howells, who has raced with the Leigh team for the last five years, excelled last season and was spotted by Team WIGGINS.

Howells has now made the professional jump into the sport and will be hoping to race for the UCI Continental team in the weeks ahead.

And Richardsons-TREK general manager Andy Lyons said he was pleased Howells has been able to realise his dream, while adding it gives the riders at the team the hope they can follow in his footsteps.

“It is great news for us,” he said. “For us to bring through a rider and see him turn professional is a good feeling for us all.

“I know Rhys works for Rapha, which is a sponsor of WIGGINS, but he wouldn’t have been chosen if he didn’t have the ability and he has that for sure.”

Lyons is gearing up for another season with Richardsons-TREK, with the team heading to Majorca for a week’s warm weather training this weekend.

The team’s 11 riders have an average age of 20 this season, with new additions including Frank Longstaff, James Jenkins, Sam Henning and Ollie Maxwell – with Longstaff winning silver in the National Track Championships in his first ever race for the team last month.

While a familiar face will also be returning to the team after a year out following several bad crashes, with Canvey cyclist George Wood back in the fold.

“It will be interesting to see how George reacts to the first couple of bumps but it is great to have him back,” said Lyons. “He had severe concussion twice and had a year out.

“But he is back now and strengthens this team. He is a tough cookie with loads of ability. Having him back is like having a new signing.”

“The warm weather training will be great for us. It is good to get everyone together and boost morale so when you race you race as a unit.

“Each year we have got a little bit stronger and more organised. We would love to be a pro team but we don’t have the sponsorship.

“The bigger the sponsor the better if we want to make that big step into professional cycling.

“This is a very talented team. We were one of the top 10 teams in the country in terms of ranking points last season and there is no reason we can’t improve on that this year.

Anyone interested in sponsoring the team can call Lyons at Richardsons Cycles on 01702 713 847.

The shop is on Elm Road, in Leigh.

The first race of the season for Richardsons-TREK will be the Jock Wadley Memorial Road Race in Colchester on Sunday, March 12.