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Olympic cyclist Jess Varnish joins the Birmingham Sky Ride

Thousands brave rain and gale force winds to take part in annual city cycling event


Olympic track cyclist Jess Varnish led from the front as thousands of riders braved gales and downpours to take part in Birmingham’s annual Sky Ride event.

Cyclists enjoyed a Sunday morning ride through car-free city streets on a return journey between Cannon Hill Park, in Edgbaston, and Millennium Point.

The ride was started by Bromsgrove-born Team GB cyclist Jess Varnish.

She is back in the saddle after tasting disappointment at last year’s Olympics, when she and team-mate Victoria Pendleton were disqualified from the team sprint event.

“It’s part of sport, part of cycling and it happens,” she said of the Velodrome incident. “The thing is not to let it drag you down.

“I’m now looking more to individual events and looking ahead to Rio, that is the ultimate aim.”

Varnish also enjoyed starting the Sky Ride.

“It was lovely to see so many people getting on their bikes, even though the weather was not very nice,” she said.

“It’s nice to be back in Birmingham, close to home.”

Varnish was joined on the starting line by deputy Lord Mayor of Birmingham, Coun John Lines.

Although not riding himself, he managed to complete 500 metres on an exercise bike.

“It was great to see so many people taking part,” he said.

“It was brilliant to have an event like Sky Ride in the heart of our city.”


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