PHIL Wylie is upbeat about 2013 after getting his new year racing programme off to a flying start, writes KEVIN FAHEY.

The Trowbridge-based Great Britain international duathlete had the best cross country performance of his career to date as he finished fifth in the fourth event of the prestigious McCain Cross Challenge in Cardiff.

“I felt really fluent and strong and I am very pleased with my fifth,” said Wylie.

“Compared to the McCain Challenge race in Bristol last October, which was really hard work, it was one of the those days I felt like I was running with the wind!”

The morale-boosting result comes on top of an exciting move to top French duathlon team Metz, which promises an exciting season for Wylie.

He had previously been a long-serving member of the French semi-professional team Les Tritons Meldois near Paris but, following the recent death of their team chief, Wylie explained the outfit was undergoing a restructure.

“They wanted me to stay but with everything that was going on I thought it was the right time to move on for a new challenge,” he said.

“Joining Metz is a big step forward for me. They have been one of the top three clubs on the French Grand Prix circuit in the past few years and individually their guys always finish in the top ten.

“That means I am going to have to perform really well to even earn the right to be in the starting team.

“In one sense that is going to be a great challenge that should push me on to become a better duathlete but on the other hand it is a little nerve-wracking. This is a new team for me and I have everything to prove.”

The French Grand Prix season and the European Championships remain Wylie’s big target for the year.

“I will run the final McCain Challenge race in Birmingham, which is also the trials for the World Cross Country and hopefully I can get a top 20 finish there,” said Wylie, who works as a sports-coordinator for Trowbridge schools.

“Then it will be the start of the duathlon season and I am really excited about that.”