SEBASTIAN Alden is preparing for his first full season of Premier League racing with Berwick - and Bandits’ bosses are predicting a bright future for him.
The Swede joined the Shielfielders midway through last season as a replacement for the under-achieving Charlie Gjedde.
And he immediately proved himself to be a big hit with the fans, culminating in his victory in the Bordernapolis individual, whilst he also emerged as the new track record holder, beating GB international and Grand Prix rider Chris Harris’s previous best.
In 2012 the 24 year-old will be doubling up with his former club Swindon in the Elite League, sharing a team spot with the Robins with Australian Jason Doyle, and Berwick manager Ian Rae believes that experience will be vital in his development.
“Seb is a class act, I think everyone has seen that,” said Rae, “and this year we fully expect him to continue in the same manner in which he finished 2011.
“He is capable of being a genuine number one, and there is no reason why he shouldn’t be one of the top riders in the Premier League this year.
“But with Ricky Ashworth coming in (as a replacement for the injured Kozza Smith) and taking over the number one race jacket at the start of the season, I think that will take some of the pressure off him.
“He will drop down the order and race at number five and hopefully he will benefit from that.
“Seb committed himself to us when he agreed a full transfer from Swindon, but he will double up with them in the Elite League this season and the experience he gains from that should also be invaluable.
“It’s been shown on countless occasions in the past that riders who race in the Elite League as well shine at PL level, and I think Seb will be no exception.
“It just seems to sharpen riders up. It gives them a little bit of a lift, a boost to their confidence if you like, and when they come back to their Premier League clubs they always seem to do well.
“When Seb joined us last year he was like a breath of fresh air.
“The fans took to him immediately and the fact that he made the move on a full transfer showed just how much faith he had in us.
“He is so enthusiastic about racing for Berwick, it’s unbelieveable.
“Last year he had fellow Swedes Alex Edberg, Ludvig Lindgren and Linus Eklof racing alongside him, which obviously helped him settle in.
“Of those only Alex is returning, but every week when he came across to race for us he was recommending riders we should check out and that showed just how much he had taken Berwick to his heart.”
Alden who will continue to race abroad as well as in the UK, admitted that by the end of last season he was starting to feel a little jaded because of all the travelling involved.
But with a winter of rest behind him Rae says he is raring to go again.
“He can’t wait for the new season to start,” he said, “and I think the fans probably can’t wait to see him in action again, I know I’m looking forward to it.”
Tomorrow (Friday, March 2), Berwick will start work on the installation of their new polyfoam safety barrier at Shielfield Park. This is being installed at a cost of approximately £50,000 and will be the first of its kind in the Premier League.
Also tomorrow, Berwick are staging a talk-in at the Black and Gold featuring new signings Ashworth and Michael Hertrich, along with former world champion Jan O Pedersen and track guru Colin Meridith.