When Kiwi Chris O’Connor leaves the World Cycling Centre in Aigle, Switzerland, he will take with him 15 pages of notes that he made during the seven-week mechanics course. Despite his eight years’ experience as a mechanic, the last four with New Zealand’s national track and road team, Chris leaves the WCC with new skills, approaches and ideas.
“Coming into this course I thought I would be going over a lot of things I already knew,” he admits. “But it has been good to find a different way to approach things.”
The importance of preparation
In particular, he learned to place more importance on preparation, not only of bikes but also of their components: “You don’t just take something out of a box when you need it. You pull it apart and put it back together again. It is pre-loved by the time it gets ridden. Everything I do will be more high precision now,” he adds.
Chi Hang Jip (Kenny) agrees. “I have learned a lot here, a lot of details,” says the former athlete whose knowledge until now came largely from the Internet. For the last three years, he has been mechanic for Hong Kong’s national team, following them to stage races in the UCI Asia Tour and other competitions on the continent. His task is rendered complicated by the fact that he remains in Hong Kong while the team trains in China.
“I don’t see their bikes regularly so before a race I have a lot of work to do! When I was a rider I fixed my bike myself and it became a hobby.”
Course adapted to the mechanics’ needs
This was the third course of the new mechanics training programme introduced this year at the World Cycling Centre. For WCC Master Mechanic Alex Roussel, the result is positive: “Other courses exist for mechanics, but not where they can work at competitions,” he points out. “But we adapt to the situation and who is on the course. Kenny and Chris already had considerable experience at races so we did more in the workshop.”
The mornings at the WCC were devoted to learning, and in the afternoon the trainee mechanics worked as part of the WCC team. “They participated in everything we were doing and helped us out,” said Alex Roussel, who emphasised that both Chris and Kenny were accomplished mechanics.
The course at the WCC was punctuated by visits to different industry factories. Each of them also spent two days at the service course of Swiss Professional Continental Team IAM Cycling.
Chris O’Connor had more than a week out from the course to accompany the New Zealand team to Manchester for the opening round of the 2013-2013 UCI Track Cycling World Cup. On leaving Aigle, he will travel with the team to the second round in Aguascalientes, Mexico.
As for Kenny, he will return to his national team in Hong Kong with plenty of new ideas, although he has trouble pinpointing the highlight of the course: “It all seems so important,” he says after hesitation.
Mechanics courses in 2014
Three courses for mechanics are scheduled for 2014:
The third round of the 2013 UCI BMX Supercross World Cup, which was held at the Olympic Training Centre in Papendal-Arnhem (NED), has been voted “best event” of the series.
Papendal has been given the thumbs up from riders, the UCI BMX Commission, sponsors, the UCI, GSX Events and media representatives. Judging was based on five criteria: event promotion, organisation, the race and track, venue and atmosphere.
Papendal has been on the UCI BMX Supercross World Cup calendar every year since 2011 and this year hosted the third of four rounds in June, one month before the World Championships in Auckland, New Zealand. Papendal returns to the calendar in 2014.
It is the first year that the UCI organises a competition for best BMX Supercross World Cup event. The winners will receive their trophy in January during a seminar for organisers of the UCI BMX Supercross World Cup. The seminar will be organised at the World Cycling Centre in Aigle, Switzerland.
Rio 2016: it is the major goal of nearly all athletes. And of these seven in particular, because Rio de Janeiro is in their country. Since the mid-September, the seven Brazilian athletes and a coach are at the World Cycling Centre to prepare their qualification for the track cycling events of the next Olympic Games. The discipline is not yet one of the most popular in their country, but thanks to a three-month training camp at the WCC, the group is developing an efficient action plan.
“The Brazilians have an ambitious and realistic challenge,” is the estimation of Tim Carswell, their instructor at the World Cycling Centre. “Now is the right time to try to qualify. According to the UCI rules the athletes need to collect good results at the UCI World Cup events, Pan-American Championships and UCI World Championships. There are the first steps to Rio 2016 and we are making a plan all together to match them.”
As well as devising a step by step plan, with some essential dates on the calendar between now and the Games, the WCC is helping the athletes improve their physical level and technical skills.
They proved their speed at a UCI event at the beginning of October, the Trois Jours d’Aigle, taking the first three places in the Men’s keirin (Flavio Cipriano, Kacio Fonseca, Dieferson Borges) and second place in the sprint (Cipriano was beaten by another WCC trainee, Ireland’s Eoin Mullen).
The Brazilian athletes (1) are particularly pleased to be in Aigle as they have little experience riding on the track. Cipriano, aged 26, the country’s best sprinter, lives in the south-east, in Taubaté (State of Saõ Paulo), some 800 kilometres from the nearest velodrome. Much of the riders’ training therefore takes place on the road between two marks drawn on the tarmac to recreate the conventional distances of a track.
“At the end of December I will move near to a velodrome,” he explains. “It is high time that I do all I can to get ready for the Games. My experience at the World Cycling Centre is part of this process. For example, I am learning how to warm up correctly and effectively.”
Cipriano and his fellow Brazilian athletes are optimistic about the future of cycling in their country.
Their coach Emerson da Silva chose the group very carefully. “We have three women and four men,” he explains. “Each of them comes from a different region in Brazil in order to reflect the country’s diversity. Although Flavio Cipriano is our best athlete at the moment, we don’t want to rely only on him, because if he gave up cycling for one reason or another, all our work would stop with him. We are concentrating on a group of young athletes, aged between 18 and 20. They represent the future and our Olympic hopes.”
(1)The athletes training at the World Cycling Centre are: Emerson Da Silva, Dieferson Borges, Flavio Cipriano, Wellyda Dos Santos, Kacio Fonseca, Gabriela Nishi, Davi Pontarolli and Hyriah Tiemann.