FOR a man who spends his days turning left on an oval track, there are a surprising number of twists to Chris Pritchard's story.

A former motorbike racer who only took up competitive cycling at the age of 25, Pritchard quickly found himself ranked among Scotland's most promising sprint prospects.

He was selected for the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi and headhunted by the Livingston-based team Endura Racing, only for his ambitions to be derailed in 2011 when he was knocked off his bike by a car while training.

"I was half a mile from home when it happened," he said. "I broke a few ribs and had some internal damage: enough to put me out of racing for a good two months."

Afterwards Pritchard, now 31, struggled to regain the form that had impressed selectors. A poor outing at the 2011 British National Track Championships - he retired from competition after only five laps in the scratch race - further compounded his frustrations.

He faced an agonising decision: battle on or walk away and try to forge a new life path. After much soul searching, Pritchard chose the latter. "My heart wasn't in it," he said. "While I appeared to be a professional cyclist, I wasn't really putting the time and effort in. I made the decision then to stop."

Pritchard threw himself into setting up a personal training business, but when plans to open a gym unexpectedly fell through in 2012, he was forced to take stock. By then a year had passed and, once again, the siren call of cycling proved strong.

"Everything seemed to be conspiring to put me back on the bike," he said. "I don't know if I believe in fate but for whatever reason, I was given this fresh opportunity. The thing you realise when you get a second chance is that it's unlikely there will be a third."

While the prospect of competing at a home Commonwealth Games is undoubtedly a huge lure, there is more than simply another shot at glory at stake for Pritchard. His unwavering drive stems from a determination to re-write the ending to his story.

The Sheffield-born rider, who qualifies to represent Scotland because his mother, Charlotte, hails from Linwood, Renfrewshire, joined the Glasgow Life Track Cycling Team last September and embarked upon a low-key return to the sport.

Strong performances at the 2013 British National Track Championships and the Scottish equivalent ensured his comeback bid gathered momentum. Yet Pritchard, who splits his time between his home in Derbyshire and the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome in Glasgow, would be the first to admit there is much hard work still ahead.

At the Revolution Series in Manchester earlier this month he posted 10.439sec in the sprint, only four hundredths of a second off the Glasgow 2014 qualification standard. In January he came even closer, a mere one hundredth of a second outside the required 10.394. Pritchard hopes he can shave off those remaining fractions at the London round next month to be in contention for a Team Scotland spot, targeting the keirin and team sprint.

There are certainly some familiar faces for company, not least Callum Skinner and John Paul who, alongside Pritchard, were part of the three-man Scottish contingent that finished fourth in the team sprint in Delhi. It was an experience which proved something of a baptism of fire for Pritchard, then only two years into his track cycling career.

"Although I was a lot older than Callum and JP, they both had a lot more experience than me," he said. "When we lined up for qualifying that was the first time we had ever raced together in the team sprint. We hadn't even practised any starts or changes.

"There is a lot more to it than everyone simply setting off together and racing as fast as you can which I think we proved when you watch the tape back and see how inexperienced we were compared to the countries that finished first, second and third."

During the past four years, however, the strength and depth of the Scottish Cycling squad has improved greatly, potentially giving selectors a headache. "In Delhi, we were the fastest team Scotland could put together but we weren't necessarily going to win a medal," Pritchard said. "Now it's a completely different situation. There are six riders, including myself, capable of riding the team sprint

"Callum and John, without a shadow of a doubt; then there's Jonathan Biggin, who is a strong Man One contender; Bruce Croall, who has qualified for the kilo; and Kenny Ayre, who is another strong rider and has some length to his sprint. It's going to be tough."

Rather than set nerves jangling for Pritchard, that only serves to sharpen his own focus. "Every training session now is a possible selection," he said. "As much as I love the boys and we all get on well, my job is to beat them every single time. There can't be any off-days or slacking."

This year is shaping up to be momentous in more ways than one with Pritchard and his partner Amanda expecting their first child in five weeks. "He's due on March 20 but I've told everyone he is going to be born on March 23 so he can share the same birthday as Sir Chris Hoy, Jason Kenny, Mo Farah and Sir Steve Redgrave," he said.

Pritchard, meanwhile, has an eye continually on the clock as the final months to Glasgow fall away. "I remember the 1000-day countdown, then 500 days; now it's 160 days to go," he said. "We're at the stage where you have to squeeze every hundredth of a second you can. That will be the difference between going to the Games and missing out."