“To lift the trophy just felt amazing, I couldn’t believe it” said the newly crowned cycle-speedway World Champion, Ben Mould, who secured an impressive 18 points in Lesno, Poland, at the World Championships in August.
It all started almost 20 years ago, back in 2000, when the Newport-based rider was introduced to the sport by his father who took him down to his local track in Newport for a training session. His racing career quickly took off with the Junior League on a Saturday morning. Mould won his first ever race and from there the 26-year-old has remained hooked to this day.
Remaining at Newport until he was 14, 15, and returning for one season back in 2017, he has also raced for Birmingham, Wolverhampton and is currently situated at Poole. From the very beginning, the management team knew they had someone special on their books, and so it turned out.
His love of cycling was ignited alongside his cousin, Jon Mould, when the two used to race in the local park as children, before they both progressed onto track cycling at a young age. However, it was a different sort of track that caught Mould’s heart. Although in different disciplines, both cousins have achieved much success so far throughout their cycling careers.
After edging three Polish speedsters by one point, Mould achieved history in becoming the first Welsh World Champion within the sport. He said: “20 years of doing the sport that I love and to become World Champion is just the absolute pinnacle – it can’t get any better than that really”.
He continued: “To be honest, it still doesn’t feel like it’s happened. I’ve been British Champion before, but I never thought I’d achieve this. I thought I could maybe come in the top three, but never actually win it. To actually win the World Championship is just surreal, an absolute dream come true”.
Although having competed in many World Championships previously, this time it was different for the Welsh rider. Mould said: “It was different this time because people were telling me prior to the race that I was in within a good chance of winning, or at least in making the podium. I’m never normally nervous, but for this I was – and especially before the final.”
He continued: “I had a bad draw so I had to have two gate four’s; so when I looked at it, I thought to myself that I didn’t have much of a chance. But I won my first race off gate three against the former World Champion, and the person who came second last year, so then I thought to myself ‘oh maybe I do’”.
After Mould had finished his heat and had done all he could to secure the title, there was still two races left to go which made for an anxious period of waiting. Describing his whirlwind experience, the Welsh rider commented: “There was 20 races and my heat was the 18th. When I’d won that and got 18 points, I couldn’t do anything else, but there was someone else in the last race that if he had won his race, then he would have beaten me so I just couldn’t watch.
“I had to walk away because it was a pretty tense time. Then to make things worse, that race got re-run a few times. I was outside the pits, not watching and one of my friends came up to me and he said that it was happening, and I couldn’t believe it – then everyone started jumping on me,” as he described those final moments before his victory was confirmed.
Due to his work schedule, the 26-year-old has to be particularly dedicated to training for his chosen sport. He said: “The hardest thing is balancing working and training. If I had a 9-5 job, then I could train a lot more but because I work nights, it is hard to get to training sessions. Normally training is at 7pm in the evening, but because I start work at 6pm, I have to get a coach to come at 3/4pm in the afternoon so I can train and then go to work. So for me, the biggest commitment has been training and working. This year I’ve made more of an effort to train harder, it’s been difficult but it’s certainly paid off”.
Leading up to the World Championships, Mould did not change his training schedule but stuck to what has continuously worked best for him. He said: “I trained once, maybe twice a week on the track, and then I also went to the gym a couple of times a week. On the track I did things like race to get myself sharper because by August you should be fit because the training has been going since March.”
Commenting on the Cycle-Speedway scene in Wales, the Welsh rider said: “The Newport Cycle-speedway Club have formed better links with Welsh Cycling within the last five years – it’s been excellent behind the scenes”.
He continued: “Overall in terms of exposure and publicity, cycle-speedway is better now than it used to be, but it still doesn’t get enough coverage in my opinion – I think there could always be more. There is also only two tracks in Wales, and they are both in Newport.”
Mould believes that Cycle-Speedway is different from other sports because it enables you to travel the world and this is something that makes it special. He said: “I’ve got friends all over the country and even all over the world thanks to cycle-speedway, and that is something that you wouldn’t get in many other sports”.
The Welsh Cycle-Speedway rider now has his sights firmly set on the future with the hope of retaining his title in the World Championships in Australia next year.