UCI Cyclo-cross Development Camp: young talents improve skills at World Cycling Centre
They come from Denmark, Great Britain, Italy, Sweden and Switzerland, and are among the most promising Junior and Under-23 cyclo-cross specialists in their countries. This week they are training together at the World Cycling Centre under the expert eyes of Beat Wabel (Switzerland), a former Junior World Champion and nine-time Swiss Champion, and Geoff Proctor (USA), team manager for the USA World Cyclo-cross Championships Junior and U23 Team. Both men are members of the UCI Cyclo-cross Commission.
On the agenda: pre-breakfast cross training, technical skills, endurance rides and classroom sessions. Hours are spent in the grounds of the World Cycling Centre practising starting techniques, bunny hopping, cornering, shouldering bikes, and more.
“There is always something more to learn,” says Switzerland’s Junior National Champion Johan Jacobs, who finished 6th in the 2014 UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships in his first year as a junior. Already part of the UCI training camp in 2013 he did not hesitate to return this year: “It is such a good place to train because everything is here, sandpits, obstacles, the forest… You also learn a lot from the other riders and have a fun at the same time. It is important to have fun, it helps you push yourself to your limit,” says the 17-year-old who will aim for a podium spot at the 2015 UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships in Tabor (CZE).
Great Britain’s Hannah Payton also returns to the camp for a second time: “I learnt a lot last year and now I want to improve the skills that I have already.”
Ranked fourth in her country Payton has role models such as British stars Helen Wyman and Nikki Harris (3rd and 5th respectively at the 2014 World Championships). Twenty-year-old Payton, who has experience in World Cups and World Championships, will make the Under-23 race of the European Championships in Lorsch (GER) in November one of her major goals next season.
Geoff Proctor underlines that the camp does not focus on performance, as many of the athletes are in the middle of road, track and/or mountain bike racing: “The camp is designed to provide transitional training and mental refreshment in a non-competitive but focused environment… Emphasis is on the big picture – what riders need to be working on, how to map out the cyclo-cross season and ways to help increase the popularity of cyclo-cross in their own countries.
“We want to reach out to the nations, and these riders can go back home and share their knowledge and experience with their National Federations and clubs,” concludes Proctor.
UCI Off-Road Manager Peter Van den Abeele stresses that the camp can play an important part in the development of cyclo-cross in countries that do not necessarily have a strong tradition in the discipline or, as is the case in Switzerland, help bring a former leading nation back to the forefront.
“This is the third consecutive year that the UCI organises this development camp, and experience has shown that the athletes who come here can make enormous progress,” he said. “The UCI Cyclo-cross Commission is committed to getting more riders and nations involved in cyclo-cross, and we are extremely fortunate to have two dedicated commission members running this camp.