LAURA Allen has gained high placings in national competitions despite this being a transitional year for the Widnes 12-year-old.

Having already finished sixth in the National Circuit Champion-ships, she gained fifth in the National Youth Track Championships and third in the first of the National Track Omnium Series finals.

Both were at Newport in South Wales where the youngster's performances prompted her to declare 'Laura's back!'

The Abesco-Cruden New Brighton CC rider had travelled to the principality as the U12s silver medal from the same event in


Despite having struggled to gain the track time required for training, she entered the U16s events and the U14s omnium.

Although Laura was outclassed in the U16s, many of her rivals were members of their regional talent-team squads and strong teams such as Raleigh.

She still turned in very strong performances with new personal bests at 2,000m, 1,500m and 500m.

In the points race, she coped well with the intimidation and aggression of the older riders and was competitive until the halfway point of her first such race.

She also showed her own fighting qualities - while battling for her position in the bunch - she 'flicked' a Raleigh rider who had forced her off the track.

In her own U14 omnium, Laura had to compete in a 1,500m pursuit, sprints and a 500m time trial.

She finished fourth in the pursuit, beating her PB set earlier in the week.

Laura qualified with a win through the repecharge heat of the sprints, after having ridden an U16 500m time trial, but narrowly missed out against Manley of Cardiff Ajax and finished second in her Minor Final and fifth overall in the sprint.

What used to be the Widnes girl's strength saw her downfall again.

Although recording another PB, her fifth place in the 500m time trial left her fifth in the overall National Championship. However, she claimed equal points to fourth-placed Owens of Palmer Park Velo.

The champion was Welwyn Wheelers' Laura Trott with Manley in second and Kayleigh Brogan (Evans Cycles) in third.

It had been a very difficult five days of racing for Laura but although tired, she felt she had gained hugely from the event.

Although the National Championship was over for another year, she had the following day's National Track Omnium Series first final, also at Newport, to negotiate.

She then took fourth in the 5k scratch race followed by third in a remarkable 8k points race in which Laura was always well placed near the front and responsive to the breaks.

Third in the keirin , Laura finally outsprinted her competitor in the matched sprint.

She finished third overall - losing only to the gold and silver medal-list from the National Champion-ships.

Laura has also won the North-West Circuit Championships this year.