ALAN Kemp, 58, brought forward his cycle racing comeback two years - and it is proving a smart tactical move.
After 18 years out of the sport he bounced back, in the yellow jersey form in which he left it.
His sudden surprise surge in a sport he left as a national champion in 1989 has so far registered seven road race wins, two seconds and two thirds, all in the 50 to 60 age group - not bad for an asthmatic.
'I can't believe how well it is going,' he said. But then, he does know the value of training hard and it was because training was going so well he made an earlier resumption of his career.
He said: 'I have done winter sessions at the Manchester Velodrome and that's a fantastic experience in itself and you are able to mix with Olympic riders.
'There is a competitive edge to the training and I'd done the Llanberis training run with the club.
'I had planned to start again when I was 60, but I was ready and thought I'd give it a go and it's going better than I ever thought.'
As well as the podium finishes. Kemp was also doing well in the National Road Race Championship in Yorkshire. He realised he was one of the strongest riders there and even managed to split the field, but then found he could not produce a sprint. In unseasonal weather he was struck with hypothermia and had to retire.
'I've never been so cold. It was a shame because that was the race that inspired my comeback,' he said.
Kemp's dad Bill got him hooked on the sport and he contested his first time trial at 15 and began road racing a year later.
Because of work his racing career has always been stop-start.
In the mid-70s he called a halt when he became a shift worker at ICI, but at the age of 40 specifically to chase the Peter Fryer Veterans Trophy, a season-long competition, which he won with 10 first four places out of 11.
Then he injured his knee, could not pedal and went into a second retirement.
He came back to find not that much had changed. He said: 'I'm coming up against the same people I raced again in the 1970s. It seems if you have the ability once then you still have the knack later on.
'There are not many new names. I beat them sometimes back then and it's the same now.
'I love cycling, every aspect of the sport, and always have. When I was at school I wrote an essay on the mental preparation for a race, when no-one was mentioning such things. Now everyone does.
'I prepare now by trying to replicate a race in training. Most people don't understand what goes on in a road race until it is spelled out to them. It is complex.
'I try and weigh up what is required and replicate a race in training. One session has to be overload.
If you don't make it hard for yourself in training you can race all your life and never win.
'Anyone who races in any sport dreams of crossing that line first. In training I prepare for riders attacking and I visualise getting there first.'
Kemp, of Alvanley Rise, Leftwich, might have been a contender for the British squad, but he suffers from asthma and prolonged activity affects his chest.
But he can still beat the best. He recently came up against twice British champion Les West and former world best Roger Iddles and won. 'I had an age advantage,' he said.