Ex-rugby star Alex Spratt delighted by Six Day London debut
12 November 2018
For someone that only started track cycling a year and a half ago, Phynova Six Day London rider Alex Spratt has a funny way of showing it.
Previously preferring the rough and tumble of Lancashire’s rugby pitches to the cold saddle of a bike, Spratt never considered the possibility of a career in cycling until a shoulder injury forced him to give up the game.
But a sudden moment of encouragement from his boss gave Spratt the push to give cycling a go, and after spending hours studying clips of sprinters charging around Lee Valley VeloPark on YouTube, the 28-year-old lined up on the very same track he’d been mesmerised by two years earlier.
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Despite his brief love affair with cycling, Spratt looked anything but a rookie on the circuit as he battled his way to an incredible fourth place finish overall in the sprinting general classification, all while knowing that his grandmother was undergoing a major operation back at home.
“Watching it and being there is two totally different things,” Spratt said.
“When you watch it, you think it has a bit of a mad atmosphere and a party, but when you get there you realise how loud it is.
“The day before my nan went in for a major operation so it was difficult to leave her. To win the keirin was for her and it made the entire week.
“To do it on the first day kind of set it up for the entire week. The reception from the riders and everyone that came to watch the event was immense.
“Unfortunately, she has got cancer and they are in the process at the minute of finding out what they can and can’t do.
“She watched it back and when I came back to see her she was really excited. It made it all worth it. It was a tough week, but one of the best week’s that I’ve had in sport or in general really.”
Holding off no less than four Olympic champions, including seven-time world champion Francois Pervis, Spratt electrified the partisan London crowd on the opening night by riding to an incredible keirin victory.
That was just one of many successes for the Preston rider as he miraculously managed to hold off world record holder and Olympic bronze medallist Pervis in the second sprint final despite a rather salubrious shoulder barge from the Frenchman.
It was one of many moments that Spratt found particularly satisfying over the course of Six Days.
“That was a good race, but I didn’t expect him to try and shoulder me off the bike,” he added.
“The crowd was amazing, especially that race. The noise they were making felt like one of the biggest cheers of the week.
“He’s [Purvis] the world record holder for the flying 200 metres, a seven-time world champion and to beat him is hard to put into words.
“I never thought I would be able to race against these people in an event like that, and then to do it and beat the others is hard to put into words.”
In spite of his recent successes, Spratt acknowledges that he still has several areas to work on to make it to the very top.
But he hopes his story can encourage others to take up cycling after fulfilling one of his own life ambitions of racing at Phynova Six Day London.
He added: “After the race and speaking to people who attended the event, their response from it was incredible. It strikes home that people that aren’t into cycling enjoyed it.
“To put on an event like that and have people say, ‘I don’t really like cycling, but it was amazing and I want to come again and start cycling’, proves that people want to watch and get involved.
“People think they are too old or not fit enough, but they need to remember that if they don’t try it or never give it a go, you will never know. If you want to do something, get involved and do it.”
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