Page last updated at 10:18 GMT, Saturday, 3 January 2009

Trader aids Olympic cycle success

By Kevin Leonard
BBC news reporter

Tim and Martyn Ashfield
Martyn Ashfield, right, now leaves his brother Tim to run the bike shop

One of the unsung heroes of Great Britain's Olympic cycling team finds little time these days to help out in his south Wales valley high street bicycle shop.

Martyn Ashfield, of Pontywaun near Cross Keys, in Caerphilly county borough, was a mechanic for Team GB's cyclists in Beijing, working on Welsh gold medallist Nicole Cooke's bike, among others.

The 57-year-old has worked full-time for two years helping prepare and maintain bikes for the country's elite cyclists.

This leaves him little opportunity to work in his bike shop in Risca, which he has owned for 26 years.

Cycling championships take him around the world and he was even away on Christmas Day preparing for an event in Belgium.

The shop is a bike shop and a social circle as well... if he's here, he's holding court rather than turning the spanners
Tim Ashfield on his brother Martyn

He now leaves it to his brother Tim to run the shop.

"I'm away so much, when I get home my wife has a long list of what should be done!" said Mr Ashfield.

"If I'm desperately needed I'll go down and give Tim a hand and I like to call in and check how he's doing.

"I'll chat and make a cup of tea mostly but I do a little bit now and again."

Mr Ashfield is still "a big part of the shop", according to his brother, but is less likely to get his hands dirty these days.

"The shop is a bike shop and a social circle as well," said Tim Ashfield.

"If he's here, he's holding court rather than turning the spanners!"

Optimum condition

Martyn Ashfield became involved with the British team in 2006 after working part-time as a mechanic with the Wales cycling team.

While he ensures bikes are in optimum condition for races, his work can also involve more unusual tasks, as he discovered during Nicole Cooke's gold medal-winning ride in Beijing.

"We had a lead mechanic on the road which was an Irish guy called John Keegan and I assisted him. I was then on the side of the road so if they puncture on the finishing straight, I'm there," he said.

"I'm also a back up if they fail to pick up a bottle from the official feeder which Nicole did on the first lap so I gave her the bottle. When she won gold, my claim to fame was I gave Nicole a bottle!"

Mr Ashfield's involvement with bicycles is no surprise as both his parents were enthusiastic cyclists.

"My father used to race them and he met my mother who used to ride with a local cycling club," he said.

Road racer

"Our first mode of transport was a tandem. I've been around bikes all my life, ever since I can remember."

He also used to race on road and track but, despite once representing Wales at junior level, he admits he was nowhere near the standard of today's top cyclists.

So while he may not have fulfilled his ambitions while riding, his dreams have come true working as a mechanic with the country's best talent.

He has his sights set on the London Olympics in 2012 but is keen to stress he treats every event equally seriously.

"With the success British cycling is having at the moment, to be part of such as successful team is amazing," he said.

"To be honest, you treat every job the same and every job you give your best."

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