WORLD Championships cyclist Abi Smith has been praised as an inspiration to young people by Harrogate Mayor Stuart Martin.

Coun Martin MBE presented the talented Team GB rider and Ripon Grammar School student with a set of hand-knitted miniature rainbow jumpers and teddy bear, which Ripon’s community knitters created for the UCI Road World Championships.

“You are an inspiration to a whole new generation of young people, particularly females, the future for women cyclists is really bright thanks to people like you. We all feel very proud.”

Abi, 17, whose proud grandfather Ben Smith, a former head of geography at Ripon Grammar School, attended the presentation, said: “The feeling is reciprocal. I received so much support from everyone in Ripon and Harrogate, people have been just wonderful. It has meant a lot.”

Carol Dunkley and Hazel Barker of Ripon’s community knitting group, who helped organise the thousands of rainbow knitted jerseys which decorated Ripon during the World Championships, also attended the presentation, along with headmaster Jonathan Webb.

Mrs Dunkley said: “We are all very proud of Abi.”

Coun Martin added: “A lot of attention and love has gone into making of these jerseys. The teddy bears are particularly special as there are only 24 in existence. One has gone to the Countess of Wessex.”

Mr Webb said: “Abi is a remarkable student and athlete who has a great future ahead of her. Everyone at Ripon Grammar School is very proud of all her achievements.”