Eighteen-year-old Jelena Eric was one of eight Junior Women athletes who spent a month training at the World Cycling Centre in Aigle, Switzerland, in August and September. Since then things have moved quickly: a top 10 placing (8th) in the Junior Women’s race at the UCI Road World Championships in Ponferrada and a one-year contract with professional team BTC City Ljubljana.

“I feel fully-fledged, proud and of course thankful,” says the new professional cyclist. “It was not such a hard decision to sign this contract. It’s all about turning pro and you either want it or you don’t. It was a goal I had long ago but I didn’t think it would happen this fast.”

Get a free giffgaff Sim

She says her time at the World Cycling Centre had given her a welcome boost: “It helped a lot. I learned different theories about race tactics, training and gym work. I had some really good advice from Jean-Jacques Henry (WCC coach) which is very useful, even outside cycling. I am still in contact with him and he continued to help me after I left.”

In January 2015 the Serb will embark on her new career with the rest of the team based near Ljubljana in Slovenia.

“We got in contact with Jelena after the World Championships in Ponferrada,” said Team BTC City Ljubljana’s Sports Director Gorazd Penko: “After following her riding we could see her top level on downhill and how good she is on middle length uphill. And if you reach 8th place in the World Championships you can’t be bad in any element of cycling.”

He said older, more experienced members of the team could help the younger riders: “There are three young cyclists her age in the team who need some additional time to grow competitively. There is a lot to learn and Jelena will have a big chance to be at the best races, see her progression and the difference, in distance, from the best cyclists.

“I can say that Jelena is the biggest women’s cycling talent in Serbia up until now,” concluded the Sports Director.

The rider in question keeps her head firmly on her shoulders and before joining her new team still reminisces about her time at the World Cycling Centre: “I loved my time there and really miss the girls now. I would like to have the chance to go back so I can say thank you to the founder of this kind of development programme. It gave us the chance to do quality work with no outside concerns.”

UCI Training Coordinator Belinda Tarling said the training camp held exclusively for Junior Women to prepare for the UCI Road World Championships had been extremely successful and it is hoped that the initiative will be repeated in 2015.