Coming from a family of professional cyclists, it was hard for Paul Willcox to keep his bike aside after coming to Oman five years ago.
“My first perception when arriving in Oman was that it was too hot and not suited to cycling, however I was soon inspired by the Tour of Oman in 2017 and picked up the bike again’’, Willcox from United Kingdom said.
It reaped quick rewards as the British expatriate had success in the Haute Route Oman (mountain climbing), a three-stage day sportive race with an international field held in Jabal Akhdhar consisting of 240 km and 2,650m.
“I finished here in third place overall to two British cyclists, and highest placed finisher based in Oman,” Willcox, who’s working as an Engineer for Petroleum Development Oman (PDO).
An active participant of the Oman Cycling Association (OCA) Championship and other cycling events, the 44-year-old is fit as ever and has just won the 40 plus category in the first Duqm championship on January 16.
“I have been an enthusiastic cyclist since my early school years, having been born into a passionate cycling family. My late grandfather Arthur Lancaster was a tireless worker for a British cycling club based in North London, called North Road Cycling Club. It is one of the oldest cycling clubs in the UK, founded in 1885.”
And there was only one choice when he named his race team in the Sultanate — North Road Oman.
The club is steeped in history and tradition and very active in road racing and time trialling within British cycling.
“My grandfather was a member for 67 years and chairman for the club as well as holding roles as a British Cycling Federation commissaire and Road Time Trials Council.
My father, Mike Willcox, was a very
accomplished time trialist for the North
Road CC in the late 1970’ and early 80’s,
riding at national level and held many club
records that stood a couple of decades. My
uncle Arthur Lancaster is now the current
chairman of the club
Willcox also regularly reports his racing stories to the UK club and thereby spreads awareness on the Oman cycling races in his home country.
In Oman, Willcox met many enthusiastic cyclists.
“Having met many enthusiastic cyclists in Oman, I joined many club rides and then came to know there was also a popular racing scene, organised by the OCA. I was desperate for competition on the bike again having not raced since my teenage years, and subsequently I joined the second race of the season 2019/20 and quickly had success with a 3rd place in the Masters (+40) in the Nizwa road race.”
“I soon followed this up winning the open Individual Time Trial (ITT), the same event which I successfully defended as part of the championship this season. With my father having been a very successful cyclist himself, I looked to him as my coach and he has been building me up with a solid training regime for past 18 months, which is now reaping the rewards.”
“My strengths and passions on the bike are time trialling and hill climbing, being the previous two winners of the ITT and also leading the team to the win in the Team Time trial this season.”
AIMING THE RED
In the OCA Championship, Willcox is second overall after the Stage 5 in Nizwa. With three more stages go, he hopes to get back to the top and win the red jersey.
“There are now many young talented cyclists competing in the championship. This can be seen with the top standings mostly occupied by under-23 riders. These guys are fit and very enthusiastic, which is fantastic to see.”
“I’m currently sitting in second with Abdullah al Ghailani deservingly taking the top spot from me last week. There is only 1 point between myself and Mundher al Hasani. The final three races of the season are going to make for an exciting finish. I still have good chance to finish with the red and will be pushing hard all the way to the final race to be held at PACA in March.”