Olympic gold medallist Jamie Staff has high hopes for the next generation of British cyclists after visiting a coaching session at the DHLSprintSchool in Newport.
British Cycling’s performance manager, Shane Sutton was also on hand to provide expert coaching to the scheme’s 12-15 year olds, with many of his tips coming straight from training guides for Team GB’s Olympic riders.
The SprintSchool, established in February 2007, provides and outlet for young and talented riders, many of whom have been missed from British Cycling’s Talent Team strategy.
At each of the six schools held during the year, approximately 70 riders come down to the Newport Velodrome from all over the UK. With 21 track leagues nominating two girls and two boys to each school, they receive a fantastic cross section of riders from the length and breadth of the UK and this year over 130 different kids have attended with most coming to two or three of the schools.
British Cycling’s youth coaches, Tim Buckle and Matt Winston, used video equipment so that riders could see and learn from their mistakes after the practical sessions. This technique quickly solved any problems riders had with their tactics and easily allowed them to see the error of their ways.
The British Cycling team video almost all of their races and even collect footage from training sessions, this proven technique is now being moved to different aspects of the performance scale.
Staff was impressed with the quality on show, and particularly the number of girls who attended the session. “I’ve done a few sprint schools now, and I’ve been really impressed with the quality of riders and volume of riders,” he said.
“There are so many girls here today and that’s fantastic, I’m sure that’s down to Vicky [Pendleton].
“The riders are getting the idea now and they’re not making the really big mistakes they might have done in the first couple of Sprint Schools. Obviously the coaching is getting better and they’re feeling a bit more comfortable on the track, it’s just really exciting to be honest, it’s making everyone’s job easier further down the road.”
Shane Sutton was attending his first Sprint School, and said: “To think how far forward the kids have progressed in six hours, imagine what you could do with these athletes on a 24/7 basis? It’s phenomenal.
“A lot of these kids haven’t even done much track before, there was one kid who turned up to the track today, and had never been on the track until last night, it’s incredible to see what Guy [Elliott] at DHL has put into the sport. I think the legacy of DHLSprintSchool will just go on and on.”
The DHL Sprint Schools will culminate in a racing day on 6 December and Season 3 will start early in 2009.