A fitness instructor from UCLan has been ranked alongside the likes of Mark Cavendish in the top one per cent of cyclists in the country.
Steve Abbott, who works at the University's Sir Tom Finney Sports Centre, is now a British Cycling Elite Licence Holder after a successful season with Teamwallis Cycling Team led to a promotion.
The accolade applies to the UK's top professional cyclists such as Cavendish and Peter Kennaugh and to serious amateur cyclists who have gained over 300 points in a racing season. The status allows Steve to compete in any Elite National UK race events apart from those solely for professionals.
Steve's success of three wins and seven podium finishes in the 2013 UK season has allowed him to enter this elite category and join some of his cycling heroes.
The 36-year-old, who lives in New Longton, commented: "I've always had modest ambitions of success and I've certainly exceeded them. To get to this level is fantastic and it just shows that hard work brings rewards."
Unusually Steve only took up cycling at the age of 29 after being inspired by elite racers such as Sir Bradley Wiggins. The dedicated athlete juggles a full-time job at UCLan as a Duty Officer teaching spinning, boxercise and circuits with up to 20 hours a week on his bike.
"Working shifts helps me to manage a busy schedule,” Steve said. “I can sometimes fit in a four hour ride in the morning before work though it can be tiring if I've got to teach a spinning class in the afternoon."
The University's sporting arm, UCLanSport, has aided Steve's development through sports science power testing and coaching advice. The cyclist has also worked with UCLan students by taking part in various research studies.
During the race season Steve races up to five times a week and has to fit recovery rides in between. This year he's raced in Belgium in the warm up event for the Scheldeprijs Flanders Classics cycling race which attracts over 10,000 cyclists.
Steve added: "I've had a great season and racing in Belgium is definitely one of the highlights. I'm already looking forward to next year where I aim to continue to improve my performance and push myself as much as I can."