THE owner of a bicycle shop has come to the aid of a promising young athlete competing in a major European challenge.

Marford-based triathlete Claire Sutcliffe is to compete with Team GB at the Ponteverdra European Triathlon Union Championships 2011 later this month and Andy Castle, who owns Alf Jones Cycles in Gresford, has helped her on her way by lending her a performance bike frame and wheels for the season.

“It’s fantastic,” said Claire, who has been competing in triathlons since 2006, and as a Level 2 Triathlon coach, now trains budding triathletes, along with anyone needing fitness support, through her personal training business Time2Train.

“This bike is much lighter and therefore faster than anything I’ve used before, so essentially it will give me a stronger chance of getting a better time.”

The triathlon is a big step for Claire, as it is the first time she has qualified to compete for Britain in her age group.

The event consists of a 1,500m swim, a 40km bike ride, and finishes with a 10km run.

She added: “I’m hoping to beat my personal best, which I achieved in the Bala triathlon, of 2hrs 27 mins, 26 seconds.

“It’s a privilege to compete in these championships but as I’m not a member of the elite squad, I have to fund the trip myself.

“Having the support of Andy and his team at Alf Jones Cycles is invaluable.

“I’ll also have my partner Steve, my mum, and my three-year-old son  Finley out in Spain to cheer me on.”

Andy Castle said: “She’s a great customer, a great ambassador for sport, and for North Wales.”

Claire, who is a member of Chester Triathlon Club, is keen to hear from any other businesses who may be interested in sponsoring her.