Young road cyclists from all over Europe are being put through their paces at the UCI World Cycling Centre this week during a Talent Identification camp.
At the beginning of a new Olympic cycle, the UCI WCC is on the lookout for athletes who could potentially qualify for Tokyo 2020. A request to Europe’s National Federations to put forward the names of their best young male and female road cyclists was followed by a selection process that resulted in 37 Junior men and women from 17 countries travelling to Aigle, Switzerland.
After one week under the watchful eye of the centre’s professional coaches, some of the athletes will be invited back to the UCI WCC this summer to prepare for the UCI Road World Championships in Bergen, Norway, in September.
“Looking ahead to the 2020 Olympic Games, the aim is that these athletes will form our Elite group in the next few years,” explains UCI WCC High Performance Manager Belinda Tarling. She added that other talent identification initiatives would be carried out in different regions and for all the Olympic cycling disciplines.
The UCI WCC coaches are looking not only at the athletes’ current form but at their potential to improve, their mental attitude and physiological tendencies. The young cyclists are training on the road, the track, in the gym, and on the centre’s stationary Wattbikes. Their week in Switzerland also includes theory sessions focusing on technical issues, tactics and anti-doping.
Some of the Junior riders had not trained over winter before arriving in Aigle as it was too cold in their own countries. Despite a difference in the athletes’ current fitness levels, the coaches have got a good idea of their potential thanks to specific testing on the Wattbikes.
UCI WCC Coach Jean-Jacques Henry said, “It is a large group so it is difficult to get to know them all individually in just a week. But we can get a good idea of which athletes would benefit from a longer stay with us to prepare for the UCI Road World Championships.”
He added that the young riders were motivated and eager to progress. Despite their large number and language barriers, they had become friends in just a few days of training together.