A company is offering would-be racing snakes an all-inclusive programme of coaching and skills sessions to prepare them for their first fourth category British Cycling race.
The intensive programme has been set up by London-based CSE-Sports, which started offering the £960 programme in May. The programme – soon to be augmented with a non-luxury option – offers groups of six to 10 novice riders a chance to learn the basics of road racing before they’re supported through their first race with a motorhome, sports massage and mechanic on hand.
Tony Gibb, who raced on the UK domestic scene for almost 25 years, is part of the team behind the CSE Academy. He said the idea was to help riders – particularly triathletes and sportive riders with a good fitness level – step into racing and fill the gap left by what he sees as a declining national club structure.
He said: “Racing’s quite a closed shop really, it’s quite cliquey. You turn up at a race and no one sort of hold your hand through the process for signing on, which way the course goes, where’s the finish and the etiquette of racing.
“From my point of view, having raced for 20, 25 years now, there’s a new influx of riders into the sport and physically if they’re coming from either triathlon or sportives they’re capable but technically they’re not skilled and equipped.
“In the past where you used to go out with a cycling club and the hierarchy of that club would educate you as to how to ride in bunch. That’s no longer there unfortunately.”
The £960 plan includes a nine-week training schedule and three practical sessions where riders learn basics such as positioning and how to corner.
He said: “Lot of people out there have a two, three, seven grand bike and don’t know how to use it, so the first session is very basic. The second session is racecraft and we try to identify 'you’re going to be a sprinter, you’re very good at attacking, you’re a domestique' – that sort of thing.
"The third session, if we’ve got a group of eight, we’ll get another 10 or 15 guys down to the track and put them through three five-lap training races to know what's coming and to get them ready for the sprint finish or try and attack and get away.”
Besides the hands-on coaching, the academy programme includes a max minute power test, a full BC racing licence, some kit and, on race day, the use of a motorhome with the other academy cadets.
Gibb acknowledged that the price appeared high, but maintained all the various elements amounted to good value for money.
He added: "We try and make a real sort of event of the day so we take a motorhome down there, put on a barbecue for the friends and family and try and make it a real event for them. So yes, it is high but you’re looking at guys who haven’t batted an eyelid at going out and spending three, five grand on a bike and will quite happily pay £50 for a sportive on a Sunday.”
Last week, British Cycling launched its Racesmart campaign to develop a safe road racing culture in the UK.
For more information on the CSE Academy, visit www.cse-sports.com.