For over two decades, Scotland has boasted numerous major championships-medal-winning cyclists.

From Chris Hoy to Craig MacLean to Katie Archibald to Jack Carlin, we’ve been spoiled.

There’s a new kid on the block now. Over the past 12 months, Lauren Bell has gone from something of a novice within the world of cycling to a two-time major championship medallist. It’s been quite a breakthrough and one that, as a kid who hated cycling, she would have found impossible to envisage.

As a child, Bell really didn’t like riding a bike. She couldn’t get the hang of the gears and cycling uphill like she was pedalling through treacle probably accounted for much of her dislike. However, she did excel in athletics and as a young sprinter won junior Scottish titles.

Her commitment to athletics was dwindling at around the same time she spotted a UK Sport programme called “Discover your Power”, which was designed to provide a pathway for girls into elite sport.

An application, on the deadline day, to the cycling programme, was ultimately successful and the rest, as they say, is history.

It was six years ago that Bell, from Moray in the Highlands, pressed send on the email to apply for the British Cycling programme and even the most optimistic of observers couldn’t have imagined that now, as a 23-year-old, she’d have both European and World Championships silverware in her trophy cabinet and has her sights set on an even greater goal: winning the world title on home soil.

In August, the Cycling World Championships will come to Scotland and Bell is almost certain to be one of the Scots leading the home charge.

As a member of GB’s team sprint squad that won bronze at last year’s World Championships and silver at the European Championships earlier this year, Bell has now had a taste of international success.

But it remains, she admits, somewhat surreal that she’s being classed both by herself and by others as one of GB’s most realistic medal hopes when the World Championships arrive in her home country this summer.

“I remember in 2019, it was announced that Glasgow was going to host the Worlds thinking it’d be amazing to be involved but I knew I was so far off the standard, it didn’t seem realistic,” she says. “So to now think I might very well be going is incredible. For it to be in Glasgow, which is mainly where I learnt to ride my bike, is so exciting and it’d be amazing to be there.

“I use the thought of it as motivation when I’m feeling tired in training and need a push.”

Bell’s rise has not been entirely smooth sailing. Having been first invited to join the lauded British Cycling programme in 2017, she was combining training in Manchester with school work.

It was far from an ideal scenario and led to her being dropped from the squad the following year. At that point, she seriously wondered if her cycling career was over despite the fact it had barely begun.

“When I was dropped from the squad, I thought that was it – I knew I hadn’t reached my potential but I didn’t know how I’d carry it on. But my strength and conditioning coach persuaded me to apply for the Scottish programme and I got on that, and moved from up north down to Glasgow.”

Bell quickly made her presence felt to the GB selectors, with two national titles at the British Championships in 2020 enough to earn her place back on the programme, this time as a full-time athlete based at the British Cycling headquarters in Manchester.

That hiccup of being dropped from the squad was, she admits with the benefit of hindsight, a blessing in disguise.

“I actually think it was a positive thing being dropped from the squad because compared to when I first got on the programme, I’ve now learnt so much more about bikes in general, about riding and about myself as an athlete,” she says. “So now, I know so much better what I need as an athlete, what works for me and I’m more able to speak to the people around me about what I need.”

Bell’s sole focus from now until August is ensuring she is at her physical and mental peak for her home World Championships.

“I feel in really good shape – we’ve just finished a strength block and the goal was to put on a lot of muscle so I’m feeling really strong,” she says.

“So the focus now is to transfer that strength onto the bike.

“The thing with being in the GB squad is you always have a sense of feeling like you can do it.”