BOURTON’S Sharon Laws has not ruled out the prospect of having one more tilt at the Olympics, even though she will be 42 when Rio 2016 comes around.

Laws raced for the Team GB cycling team at the Beijing Games in 2008 and highlighted the folly of being controversially overlooked by the selectors for the London Olympics when lifting the national road race title just weeks later.

Laws proved she is as good as ever in a successful year with the newly-minted United Healthcare team based in the States, her successes including the Queen of the Mountains award at the inaugural Women’s Tour of Britain earlier this summer.

She had been contemplating retirement until not one but two world class teams made her offers to join them in 2015, clearly recognising her value as the ultimate ‘domestique’ – the rider who works for the benefit of the team and its best rider.

There is at present a gaping hole in the Team GB women’s team for riders who can selflessly battle on behalf of number one Lizzie Armitstead and one gets the firm impression that Laws would love to be asked back into the fold.

“Now Emma Pooley has retired, GB is lacking riders who can support Lizzie at the Olympics in Rio which will have a very hilly course,” said climbing specialist Sharon.

“It looks as though Anna Christian shows potential but in reality it isn’t long until 2016 now.”

Both UHC and the new Bigla team offered Sharon places and she has opted for the latter to race in a team which includes Annemiek van Vleuten and Shelley Olds.

Van Vleuten was a member of the Dutch national team which helped Marianne Vos win gold at the London Olympics, and former US road race champion Olds was seventh in that same London race despite suffering a puncture.

“I really thought I would stop at the end of the year but when two teams offered me contracts without me approaching them it was a really nice feeling,” said Laws.

“It was difficult to make a decision as they were both attractive offers in different ways.

“I enjoyed UHC enormously and the affiliation with the men’s team is a real strength of that squad.

“The team was really successful in its first year with a number of wins and podium places and it was good to do some different races – with Argentina and El Salvador being particular highlights.

“Ultimately, though, I rent a flat in Girona (Spain) which I want to keep and make my base, and being away for so much of the year was not ideal, both from a personal point of view and financially.”

Laws will be reunited with Bigla team boss Thomas Campana who gave her a first pro contract (with Cervelo) in 2010.

“Thomas actually offered me a contract the year before (2009) but I turned it down to try mountain biking with the national team and regretted it,” said Sharon.

“I didn’t get to work with him directly as he left the team before the season started. It is great that he is keen to have me as part of his Bigla team.

“It’s a really strong squad with a wide range of strengths – climbers, sprinters and time trial specialists.

“And it will be great to race with (former Lotto Belisol team-mate) Ashleigh Moolman again.

“She is improving each year with experience and is very strong in the mountains so I’m hoping I will be able to help her in the hilly stage races.”

Prior to taking up professional cycling at the age of 33, Sharon, worked as an environmentalist for the British government, the UN and Rio Tinto Zinc among others – she has an MSc in conservation. Between races last year she picked up her consultancy work again.

“I think that helped me make my decision to ride for another year,” she said.

“The reality of sitting behind a desk for hours as opposed to riding my bike wasn’t so appealing.

“The consultancy pays a huge amount more but my racing years are limited now so I might as well do it as long as I can. The consultancy will always be there.”

Sharon has made the tough decision not to head for one of her favourite parts of the world, South Africa, for winter training.

“I’m desperately sad not to go to Stellenbosch this year but I have spent only eight weeks in Girona during 2014 and having taken more than 60 flights I needed to stay in my own place and find my feet,” she said.

Having recently entertained her Bourton-based mother Joy in Girona she hopes the favour will be returned next year in the Cotswolds when she plans to come back to ride in the second Women’s Tour of Britain.

“I don’t know my race schedule yet but hope to do the Tour of Britain – it was such an amazing experience this year with an unbelievable number of spectators.”