A three week training camp held at the UCI World Cycling Centre (WCC) in Aigle, Switzerland, saw 15 cyclists and six coaches from nine emerging European countries improve their skills and competence on the track.

This first European Training Camp of its kind was possible thanks to collaboration between the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), the Union Européenne de Cyclisme (UEC) and the WCC. From November 23rd until December 14th, the athletes and coaches benefitted from the WCC’s infrastructure and expert UCI coaches.

Alexandros Evdokimidis is 17 years old and would like to beat the Greek national record for 200m. That is an ambitious goal for someone who lives 500km from the nearest velodrome, which is why he appreciated having daily access to the track at the UCI World Cycling Centre.

“I worked on my track skills, my balance and agility. I feel a lot more comfortable on the track bike now,” said the young sprinter who trains mainly on the road, travelling to the Athens track just four or five times a year.

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Liviu Geamana is also 17, comes from Moldavia but trains and races in Italy. He believes his three weeks in Switzerland have been valuable for his future career as a road cyclist and will help him achieve his goal of a top-ten place in the junior road race at the next European Championships and a top-20 (juniors) at the 2015 UCI Road World Championships in Richmond at the end of the season.

“I have learned so much here: different exercises, physical training, strength in the gym, power, group riding and sprinting… it will all help me.”

Motivation is just as high among the six coaches: During his three-weeks at the WCC, Abulfaz Mammadov sent his course notes home to his daughter in Azerbaijan each evening to get them translated and ready for the next day’s classes.

Meanwhile Slovenian Josip Radakovic will use his new-found knowledge when training his club athletes, some of whom have already raced at international level. He hopes to be part of a planned national training centre at the velodrome in Novo Mesto. The track has fallen into disuse since it hosted the UCI Juniors Track World Championships in 1996.

UCI President Brian Cookson said he was very pleased that the UCI could support the UEC by hosting the training camp for athletes and coaches.

“The UCI World Cycling Centre is a unique platform with which we fulfil our commitment to the development of cycling worldwide and provide greater opportunities for athletes,” he said. “The UCI is proud of the hundreds of athletes, coaches and officials that have come to Aigle over the past 12 years to improve their skills in and knowledge of our beautiful sport.”

UEC President David Lappartient added: “This is the first in a series of initiatives aimed at developing and promoting cycling in geographical areas where our sport is not as popular.”

At the end of the training camp the six coaches sat an exam all passing either the Level 1 or Level 2 UCI Coaching Certificate. Meanwhile some of the athletes will be invited back to join the WCC’s long-stay group of trainees.