1 August 19:43 (BST)

Lonely at the top for trailblazing Icelandic mountain biker OMARSSON

GLASGOW - As the first Icelandic native to become a professional cyclist, mountain biker Ingvar OMARSSON (ISL) has long dominated every cycling discipline in his homeland, with a trophy cabinet collapsing under the weight of all his national awards.

But while it's nice to be a superstar among your own people, he appreciates that the only route to improvement is competing frequently on the world stage.

"I became a professional cyclist three years ago and I'm still the only one in Iceland," he said. "We have come a long way in recent years but we're still a little bit in the Stone Age in international terms.

"I have to admit it can be lonely at the top. I finished my national season recently and the statistics showed I had more wins than everyone else combined.

"It would be good to have some competition at home but it will take years and that's why I compete in mountain biking internationally."

OMARSSON will be at Cathkin Braes for the Glasgow 2018 European Championships and he's relishing the prospect of going spoke to spoke with the cream of the continent.

"I'm aware that I'm the typical big fish in a small pond when I compete in Iceland, and the opposite when I'm up against international opposition," said the 29-year-old .

"I appreciate that I can only improve my own performances by testing myself against the best mountain bikers in the world.

"I'm happy I've made it so far in my chosen sport and I've enjoyed being a trailblazer in my own country but taking part in events like the one in Glasgow will help me move up the world rankings.

"This year, I've competed in Denmark, Norway, Spain and Italy, but I've never been in Glasgow before, so I'm really looking forward to the event.

"It's a real thrill to be at a European championship event. I always set a target of being in the top 50 per cent at any international event, so hopefully I can keep improving."

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