I’ve been listening to a lot of chatter on the internet lately about the do’s and don’t’s of Track Sprinting training and racing, so here is my advice as a coach.
1. Just because someone faster than you is doing something doesn’t mean it’s the right thing for you (or even them!). Some riders are just plain more talented than others and can still be quicker than you even training badly. At the Olympics, World champs, World Cups etc that I’ve been at I’ve seen riders with frankly ridiculous warm up protocols, poor technique in starts and horrible bike set ups, and every one of them is faster than me…. but they could be so much quicker if they were doing it better.
This goes for coaches too, it’s irrelevant how quick your coach is as a rider if they can’t understand how to relate that training to you and your needs. Often the riders that aren’t as naturally gifted make better coaches because they have had to analyze themselves more carefully to compete with their more naturally gifted counterparts.
2. Gearing is the biggest misnomer right now, firstly cadence is where you should be focussing, the gear choice being a byproduct of that. Emulate the elite guys cadences not gearing. For a variety or reasons gearing in training is different from gearing in races, and is usually a fair bit smaller (except over geared training efforts), think about this when designing your training program, again go back to cadences, you will find 94″ on a cold windy outdoor track is a very different gear to 94″ on double discs and tires at 220psi on a wooden indoor track, train at the cadence you want to race at not the gear you want to use.
3. The current trend for super big gears is a little misleading for most non elite riders (by elite I am talking 10.5 and under) for the less well trained and efficient athletes whacking the gear up can have a short term speed gain, it doesn’t mean it’s helping your long term development, and then we come to racing itself……
4. I know its fun to brag sometimes about things like peak power/max squats/chainring sizes etc, however it often becomes a focus and leads you away from the real aim which should be to win races! Too many people focus too narrowly on small areas and not seeing the whole picture. The 200m is just the entry ticket to the races, if your training is constantly about the “right” gear/cadence to do a good 200m there is a good chance you won’t be able to race as well as you could.
The Elite riders I know can do the same 200m time on gearing between 102 and 120 but you won’t catch them racing on 120! most will race on between 4-8″ less than they qualify and are pedalling at way higher rpms in a race than almost everyone who hopes to emulate this success.
The gear you choose to race in needs to be able to cope with a variety of tactics and scenarios, having an “overspeed” buffer where you can still be effective over a wide range of cadences is a big advantage, especially when rushing the slipstream on an opponent. Bear in mind the steeper the banking and the tighter the radius of the turn the more your rpms will go up in the bends, it can make quite a few rpms difference between the outdoor track/road you train on and the indoor one for your major comp.
5. There is no magic formula, no silver bullet, no perfect answer. Real progress is made by a combination of lots of factors, with the gear you use for your flying 200m just being one small part. Do you get enough quality rest? Is your diet conducive to excellent recovery? Are you working on all the aspects of your sprint? Starts, accelerations, top end speed, speed endurance, form, aerodynamics, recovery between efforts, tapering, roadblocks, rest breaks, mental prep, practicing tactics-observation, injury prevention, supplementation?
Some of these things are quite personal too, what works for Bob might not always work for John and vice versa. Although there are a lot of things that will work for the majority of people if applied at the right level for them and not just copied ad hoc from the elites.
6. Gym work.
In my experience with the athletes I have worked with and the ones I see racing and hear about, gym work is a vital part of MOST sprinters training. It’s the most effective way to build muscle mass (if you need more which isn’t always the case..) and can also be very effective at teaching better fibre/neural requirement.
What you do in the gym though can make a big difference, the training these days is quite different to the more body building programs of the 80-90’s and early 00’s. Todays sprinters are leaner yet stronger. Numbers are totally personal, just because you can back squat 250 and the other guy can do 400 doesn’t mean he will be quicker (Theo Bos couldn’t back squat more than 150kg apparently, he seemed to do alright…), what is relevant is progression, USUALLY an increase in gym strength for a rider will correlate with faster times on the track although there can be occasional exceptions to this.
Gym is quite rev specific with most of the gym gains relating to roughly 0-75rpms on a bike, anything much over 100rpms is very difficult to train with gym work. Other factors are the age of the athlete and also how their body handles weight training, some athletes can cope with it really well and others get broken by it. Again the guys that make it at elite level are usually the ones that can cope with big workloads and big poundages. They are just more gifted than us at training, but what works for them now might be having some long term negative payoffs for later life. There comes a point where training at elite level goes past what is truly healthy for some people, worth considering when racing a bike is your hobby not your job… find what works for you, if your lower back can’t take squatting/deadlifting at a weight that’s useful try leg press or single leg squats instead. Don’t risk your long term health. Again find out what works for you and be prepared to change it when it stops being effective or causes you problems.
Finally… yes you can become elite/fast without weights, they are just a useful tool if you can handle them. ALWAYS put form 1st, remember you are using weights/resistance training to go faster on a bike, not to be the strongest guy or girl in the gym, little and steady improvements here are the way forward.
The difference between high quality tires and clinchers/training tires is as much if not more of a time benefit than between spokes and aero wheels/discs. Frontal area matters, aerodynamics is a very complicated arena, a simple rule of thumb for most of us though is if you make your frontal area smaller you will go faster for the same given power output, this goes for weight too, with 3-4kg’s being roughly a 10th of a second over a flying 200m, and more like 2-300th’s over a standing lap. Think about that when buying expensive wheels, laying off the cake could have a bigger gain 1st…
I think that’s enough from me for today ;)
Performance Cycle Coaching
– How Rider and Machine Work Together
by Max Glaskin
Reviewed by Nick Dey
(Neunkirchen-Seelscheid, Deutschland (and Wigan, Lancashire)
Investigate the scientific wonders that keep cyclists in their saddles!
An ageing statistician once stated that there are 1.2 billion cyclists in the world (where’s the uncertainty?). We can all, I would guess, recall the first time we mastered the art of riding a bike – without stabilisers, I should add. My own experience involved a sadistic Yorkshire uncle, the legendarily bad children’s Raleigh Mayflower, a steep drop – those from Wigan will recognise the profile, from Haigh Hall plantation gates down to the trickling metallic orange of the river Douglas and the bridge of doom with its iron railings. The ear filling rush of wind, an attempted brake and steer, a crashing cacophony renting the still air, tears, torn clothes, bloody and bruised body parts, and a grin as wide as Lancashire – inspired by the immense satisfaction of taking control of the purple steed. The rest, as the great philosopher once said, is – much like the 2013 FA cup – history!
Anyone reading this will already agree that riding a bike is one of the most rewarding of human activities, whether from the euphoric wobbles described above, the utilitarian daily commute or the adrenalin rush of competition.
The introduction argues that…
“Cycling occupies a unique niche in the world. It satisfies concerns about the environment, sustainability, health and fitness, competition – while giving millions the freedom to travel independently. Their horizons forever expanded. These benefits would be mere anecdotes if it wasn’t for the fact that thousands of scientists have studied almost every aspect of is seemingly simple activity.”
In ‘Cycling Science: How Rider and Machine Work Together,’ Max Glaskin presents his ideas in a straightforward, user-friendly, and consistently informative and entertaining way. The focus is the science of cycling which and this made accessible by the subdividing the whole into themed chapters. With each focused on interrelated topics with the principles and thinking well-presented and supported through the use of info-graphics and supporting text pitched at an appropriate level for the non-specialist. The presentation of some traditionally tricky physics is dealt with intelligently and thoughtfully. All of which allows the reader to access a deeper comprehension and, with diligence, understanding of what goes on when designing, building, riding and racing a bicycle. Experts, fear not! The book contains, as all books of this type should, a very detailed reference and further-reading list with web links if available. I certainly appreciate the huge amount of research Max Glaskin undertook.
Reading this book, be it from cover-to-cover or dipping into it as the mood takes you, can only enhance the experience of cycling, in whatever form you may take it.
An unexpected bonus … One for you teachers and students of physics out there.
Several of my A-level and Advanced Higher Level International Baccalaureate students asked to have a look at the book (I was flicking through whilst they modelled the ‘head’ decay constant of several local beers). They were still engrossed in the book over an hour later having read through their lunch break – so much for the uninformed opinions concerning student concentration spans these days! As one enthused teen, with no previous interest in cycling, pointed out…
“This would have been perfect for the A-Level mechanics and materials unit. Where can I get a copy?”
Another, this time an IB student, politely requested to use the science within as a foundation for an investigation. It didn’t take long for me to agree and I can’t wait to see what research proposal he comes up with.
Both ordered that night and the former has since, after a hiatus lasting since his primary years, started riding a bike to and from school; Heady and immediate success indeed. Others are following in this pairs pioneering tyre tracks! Me? Well, I am one happy teacher of physics! Imagine the experiments and contextualisation of theory we will be doing now that I have a physics lab full self-motivated and cycling obsessed young scientists. Oh, and a ready supply of bicycles and willing ‘volunteers’ too!
So, why all this fuss and hyperbole?
This book delves far deeper than the usual training manuals and guides we are all used to. The science covered is always pertinently focused but also ranges far and wide, often revealing, and revelling in, the unexpected. Fundamental physics, engineering principles, materials science, human anatomy and physiology, statistics, sociology are, along with other fields, the spring boards used to leap into the story of the bicycle and its riders.
So what will you learn by reading this book?
As ever I’m loath to give too much of the detail away – I certainly had several ’aha! so that’s what’s going on’, and ’ooh, I’ve never thought of it that way before’ moments. I have decided to give you, good reader of all things pedal powered, a taste of the questions posed, and answered. An amuse-bouche-bicyclette if you like!
Fundamentals: chapter one introduces and asks several fundamental questions. “What are the forces acting upon a bicycle?” What is a bike – its components? “How efficient is a bike or why is it easier to ride than walk?” “Which bike should I choose (what is the most efficient design?)” “Why are men’s and women’s bikes different?” “What are the environmental impacts of cycling?” “Can cycling help me live longer?” “How risky is travelling by bike?” How much power can a cyclist generate?” “How can I compute the power output?” “Does a tandem have scientific advantages?” Along the way some beautiful physics and wider science is woven seamlessly into the context of bike and rider. Force & inertia, energy efficiency, power, the conservation of energy and the laws of thermodynamics and gender specific anatomy and physiology, are all introduced and developed a little deep than expected for such a friendly tome. Many myths are laid to rest along the way as the chapter ’…lays down a broad, smooth track for the journey ahead.’
Strength & Stability: the second chapter describes the physics that makes the bike – your bike – work so well (and not collapse beneath you – as happened to me in Shanghai!) We’ve all asked ourselves how much load our bike can take and this is where the chapter begins. You’ll even be able to estimate the stress acting on the various parts of your bike as you change position. There is then a fine treatment of material science – a very useful introduction to the field it proves to be. Stress (what you do to the material), strain (how that material behaves when you do things to it), the elastic limit (that sickening moment when the bars and tubes no longer return to their original dimensions… as recently experienced!), the Young’s modulus (the relationship between stress and strain) and, finally ultimate tensile strength… Or how close are you to actually breaking your frame (another recent, ahem, incident on a local track makes me wish I’d done my sums before pretending to be a rubbish version of Sir Chris Hoy!) all provide a solid foundation for the remainder of this long chapter. Our focus alights on frame geometry and bike fit – a very useful size chart is included, along with component specific energy and power efficiency (frame twist and crank deflection, etc) and then moves into suspension and the ever controversial self-stabilising dynamic models of the moving bicycle. This latter is worth a book in itself. The chapter concludes with a detailed, and fun, treatment of cornering, counter steering and the equilibrium of forces required in keeping you off the tarmac. The author doesn’t limit himself to two-wheels.
Materials: here we have succinct, ahem, material evidence for the ingenuity of the plethora of engineers behind the bicycle. The opening takes a novel approach, staring as it does with the fundamental states of matter and then plunging into the atomic structure and bonding of commonly used materials. Tubing follows; their diameters and, for me a very interesting knowledge gap filler, how they are held together. I couldn’t spot any reference to the precision of milling of the miter joint – the quality of which, an old time builder told me, adds a great deal to the strength of the frame? Polymers and carbon construction continue the journey which then flows into fluids, in all their guises; manufacturing, gas pressures (and how they affect riding), et al, then return us to the starting concept with the introduction of another state of matter, plasma – and why it may well play an important role in the future of bike materials. This is very novel contextual application of this ’fourth state’ and is well explained and supported by some vividly imagined and sketched diagrams: never an easy thing to do when trying to visualise such complexity in two-dimensions.
Chapter four is one for you speed merchants out there… Power! Where it is generated and where it is lost. The author starts by asking the obvious question, ‘how does a bike turn effort into speed?’ The pages dealing with foot-pedal interface and gearing efficiency caused me to rethink the paucity of my own shifts! The oft-ignored but ever vital chain is given the clean-up it deserves, and is brought bang up to date with the support of some very contemporary research. Again, much food for thought for the elite riders and coaches (but I’m sure Chris Boardman is fully up to speed). Wheel weight & mass distribution, spoke tension, tyres, braking, bearings – and as I desperately need a new wheel-set this is very pertinent – are well presented and contextualised, supported ably by some basic physics ranging from the typical simplified Newton’s 2nd Law (F=ma & Ƭ=lα), mechanical advantage and moment of inertia to harmonics and fundamental frequencies. Sigh, physics and cycling… bliss!
Chapter five is the main issue for the racer out there: aerodynamics – how to push the air out of the way as easily and quickly as possible. I think I heard Chris Boardman, that man again, state recently that up to 80-85% of energy transferred by a racing cyclist is used to overcome that most insidious of opponents: air resistance… What a drag! We have all read about the pro’s and the many hours they spend undergoing wind tunnel testing – just look at the transformation in form of Vincenzo Nibali (2013 Giro d’Italia, stage 8.) Well, if you’ve ever wondered what dark arts they apply then this is the chapter for you. Not a single aspect of aerodynamics is overlooked and all concepts are, as usual, made accessible.
This excellent book closes by covering the one thing only hinted at so far… The human factor. I’ll be honest and admit that I read this first in a desperate attempt to find some secret, long hidden, key that would allow my 90 kg+ to get up hills faster than a sophomoric sloth! I really should know better! The chapter opens by introducing, clearly and simply, all the body systems involved. Anatomy, physiology, neurology and psychology, etc., are all interlinked. Many of the more recent issues in cycling are well treated. Especially interesting was the direct comparison the books format allowed me to make between altitude training and the cheats alternative, ’blood boosting.’ The short, medium and indeed long terms benefits to heart, lungs, body and mind, of riding a bike, especially with regards to regular high intensity training (rather topical this) is persuasively presented.
“Cycling protects against the long term risks of coronary heart disease, no matter how long you cycle each day – but cycling faster is better!”
Max Glaskin is an award-winning science and technology journalist with a special interest in cycling. He has contributed to a vast range of publications. He co-founded the Mountain Bike Club (of GB) and ran it for five years to help launch the sport. He has cycled over the Greater Himalaya and danced for the Queen as a member of the Bicycle Ballet!
CyclingShorts Rating: Star Buy! – 100%: Read it: think, apply – ride smoothly, efficiently and swiftly!
Cycling Science – How rider and machine work together
Hardback Price: RRP £20.00
Newport Velodrome – ©Dave Gratton AKA SunflowerDave (on Flickr)
For someone who always has a lot to say for himself, thinking what to write about is more difficult than I thought! I should hasten to add, that’s not because I can’t think of anything, it’s because I’ve got so many ideas running around in my head it’s so difficult to chose.
So my decision has been made for me because for the first time in weeks I have an hour or so to spare to put pen to paper (yes, I am actually writing this on paper) as I’m sitting in the stands watching my daughter Ffion take part in a Welsh Cycling youth track session. So the subject: the importance of good cycling facilities, specifically Newport Velodrome.
The difference this sporting facility has made to Wales is difficult to quantify, but if you look at the numbers of riders both before and after this facility was built who are at or on their way to the top of the cycling tree, it’s obvious that its impact has been massive! The same can be said of Manchester Velodrome and I am sure it will be the case with the Olympic Velodrome; we should also consider Herne Hill and the riders that have benefitted from that facility. What it shows it that good facilities really do make a difference to the progression of riders coming through the ranks, whatever their cycling discipline. Of course we also need champions to inspire youngsters into the sport, but we’ve got such a conveyor belt going at the moment there is no worry about these facilities being under used.
So what memories have I taken from Newport Velodrome over the last 8 or 9 years that I’ve been making the 30-minute drive from Abergavenny to get here?
Well I might as well start with my number one memory and also because “why shouldn’t women’s cycling be given priority over men’s for a change?” If I can find the photo to accompany this when I next go hunting in the attic I’ll post it at a later date, as even now I find it quite hard to believe. Picture this: a women’s keirin with six riders on the start line. In amongst the six, the current senior World Champion wearing her stripes Clara Sanchez. Also on the start line I think it was Sandie Clair. Next up to them, a few star struck young girls from the UK including two from Wales, my 13-year-old daughter Becky and Katie Curtis. I can’t recall another current senior world champion ever racing in Newport, so that line-up is implanted very firmly in my head. By the way, it was France first and second with Becky coming in third to the disbelief of the French coach, especially when finding out Becky’s age.
As for other memories of female competition in Newport, between 2006 and 2007 the Youth and Junior Track National Championships had such strong fields the racing really was fantastic to watch. Seeing Becky, Lizzie Armistead, Joanna Rowsell, Jess Varnish, Laura Trott, Dani King…(I could go on) racing against each other with Hugh Porter getting very excited on the microphone really was brilliant. Looking back now I honestly think you could see then who was going to make it to the top and they weren’t all winners. The look of determination in a rider’s eyes is something I believe is what sets them apart and that is something you can spot at a young age. If someone happens to win a Youth National Championship on the way to the top that’s nice, but ultimately you need to look at the bigger picture and remember it’s not a sprint, it takes a lot of time and effort to win at elite level. And that’s what people will remember; senior champions not 11-year-old ‘superstars’!
On that last point, some really bad memories for me have been watching young girls of Under 12 and Under 14 level attempting to break a National Record as if it was the be all and end all. They have been all kitted out with the best equipment money can buy and their parents have been shouting so loudly at them as if they were doing it themselves, but why? Many of those I have watched are either no longer riding or just riding now and again. And why provide the best equipment at such a young age? Good equipment yes, but keep the very best as a reward and as an incentive when they are racing at international level. I really would like to see some sort of equipment specification cap on all youth riders to make it more of a level playing field and to give them something to aim for.
While I’m in the process of airing my concerns, the other thing that really worries me is that young riders seem to be specialising on one cycling discipline at ever-younger ages and training to the detriment of their education. Youth sport should not be like that. If I could single out one young rider who has got the balance right and sets an example for other to follow it is Elinor Barker and look where she is now! Elinor has given most forms of cycling a go, but over the time I’ve known her and the family her education has come first. She’s obviously had coaching, but it has been Elinor’s drive and determination to succeed that has won her the Junior World Time Trial and of course her supportive parents (I believe there could be another reason and the same applies to Becky as well; both Graham, Elinor’s dad and myself are ardent Newcastle United followers and maybe it’s because the girls have never seen us celebrate the winning of a trophy that they are doing their bit to cheer us up!).
On the male side of things, at the same time as that outstanding crop of girls I mentioned the boys’ fields were also amazingly strong and they provided fantastic racing to watch. Jason Kenny, Peter Kennaugh, Alex Dowsett, Luke Rowe, Adam Blythe, Andy Fenn…(once again, I could go on) are just a few of the names that cycling fans would recognise from the Olympics and pro-peloton this last year. Despite many outstanding races and individual performances the one that stands out still after these years is Andy Fenn’s Youth 500 metre time trial. Here was someone mixing it up with the best youth riders this country had to offer in all the circuit races around the country and he was winning the endurance and pursuit events on the track. In the 500 metre time trail he was up against all the best youth sprinters in the country including current BC Academy sprint member Peter Mitchell. I can still picture him going around the track now. I seem to recall I was sitting in the stands next to Iain Dyer, National Sprint Coach and Trevor King, father of Dani and a few others and the first thing that came to my mind was that here was the person to follow in Jason Kenny’s footsteps. Well I was wrong on that front, but I really think he has the potential to be the next big road sprinter from GB. I am not saying that Andy will be another ‘Cav’, because I am not sure there’ll be another in my lifetime, but I am sure that he’ll be winning many races and stages over the next few years. Another rider I’ve watched in Newport in a similar mold to Andy is Sam Harrison, although he’s got a few years to catch up yet.
As recent as last winter I was sitting in the stands of Newport Velodrome watching the annual ‘Winter Track League’, which mixes all abilities up into different races, both male and female. In Wales we are very lucky indeed to not only have Elinor Barker coming up into the senior ranks, but we also have Amy Roberts. To see both Elinor and Amy mixing it up with the men in the ‘A’ league really is a great sight and I am really excited about the prospect of those two girls representing Wales and GB around the world over the next few years. The girls often found themselves riding in amongst elite men, well not just elite, but professional riders. Last year watching Luke Rowe, Magnus Backstedt, Jonny Bellis and many more on a Tuesday night with the rain hammering down on the velodrome roof, whilst sipping a cup of tea, is fascinating, enjoyable and a relaxing time in amongst my hectic lifestyle.
I have never been in Newport Velodrome with a full stand of spectators, but with the success of this last season and the accessibility of cycling stars to the general public I think I might get to see that over the next couple of years. What Newport needs is the right event to fill the stands, something that has got my mind running wildfire again! Now, if that event gives equal precedence to the women riders or better still star billing, wouldn’t that be amazing?
…Next time, whenever that will be, I’ll probably write about organising my first ever hill-climb and also about the importance and thrills of cyclocross.
Thanks for reading.
Sex, Lies and Handlebar Tape
The remarkable life of Jacques Anquetil, the first five-times winner of the Tour de France
by Paul Howard
The Times ‘An extraordinary biography’
The Times certainly hit the nail on the head with that one! This is certainly a very extraordinary biography. I would perhaps have re-titled the book, Sex and Drugs and ride a bike, rephrasing one of my favourite songs written by the amazing wordsmith Ian Dury. Paul Howard’s biography is certainly full of all three!
Sex, Lies and Handlebar Tape unlike many of the other cycling biographies and autobiographies I have read is not an easy read. This is not due to the content of the book but rather in the style in which it is written. It is clear that Paul Howard has spent time carefully researching the facts in the book. He has done this by reading other author’s books and by talking to people around Anquetil at the time. However to ensure the reader is aware of the depth of research the book can at times be as enjoyable to read as a history text book, not totally riveting!
I found the early chapters really hard going and was not sure if I could persevere, but the desire to get under the skin of such a great cyclist drove me forward. Paul Howard deals well with all areas of Anquetil’s life, from his calculating riding style, which did not win over all the French public, to his unusual personal life and loves.
Through the book you certainly get an impression that, actually what happens today is not really that different to Anquetil’s era but somehow it has become more accepted that deals are struck for teams to work together, rider support is bought, and that it is OK to ride to a carefully calculated marginal time gain plan. Lance Armstrong and other greats certainly did this. The darkside however is perhaps the accepted use of drugs to aid performance and Anquetil’s stand against testing and his refusal to be tested after his final hour record, leading to the lack of ratification for the record. Funny to think that Paul Kimmage has become a cycling world outcast for writing about the same thing, when in reality it was all ready in the open.
The hardest part of the book to ‘get your head round’ is that fact that his wife allowed, maybe even suggested, they use Anquetils’ stepdaughter to act as a surrogate mother. This lead to a twelve year relationship, with mother and daughter. Finally imploding and leading to Anquetil developing a long term relationship with his stepson’s wife! I wonder what Jeremy Kyle would have made of that?!
Sex, Lies and Handlebar Tape is most certainly an extraordinary biography and if you are willing to work at reading it, overall it is well worth the effort. You get a chance to get the inside story of one of cycling’s greatest ever Tour de France riders. Persevere, overall it was forth the effort.
Sex, Lies and Handlebar Tape – The remarkable life of Jacques Anquetil, the first five-times winner of the Tour de France
Author: Paul Howard
Published by Mainstream Publishing
Available in Hardback, Paperback & eBook
RRP £18.99 (Hardback), RRP £8.99 (Paperback), RRP £8.99 (eBook)
Jetse Bol - Oscar Freire (Rabobank) - Image Wessel van Keuk/Cor Vos ©2011
When I was 18 years old and I got an offer to sign a contract with the Continental Squad of Rabobank I knew exciting thing were coming, what I didn’t know was how good was it going to be!
I had to take it step by step, coming to a big team it’s a big challenge and requires a lot of dedication and effort but it feels great when you get the results you worked so hard for and especially when that step on the top of the podium that everyone wants its yours… when you cross the finish line in 1st place and you feel like you’re on top of the World!
This season I had a big goal in mind, it was my last year as an U23 rider and I wanted to sign a pro contract for the next season, I worked really hard last winter and made a lot of sacrifices along the way because I had to stay really focused on my goal.
We had our first training camp in February and the atmosphere of the team was great, it helps a lot for your results when you are part of such an amazing team, everything is so well organized and we (riders) keep good relationships with each other and with all the staff, which it’s the perfect thing to stay motivated and be at your best.
The season did not start as well as I wanted, but I performed very well in the Tour of Bretagne and that’s when everything started to go really well for me.
Another of the big goals for me this season was to win Olympia’s tour, I won it back in 2009 and I couldn’t defend my title in 2010 so I wanted to peak for that race this year.
I am super proud to say I achieved this goal, taking the title and also winning 2 stages and the points, mountains and sprints classifications, it was unbelievable! I had the support of the team and of course my family and friends were there to cheer me up.
The next big event of the season was the World Championships in Denmark so my coach and I made a special program to get there in my best form. I was in very good shape but the course didn’t really suit me, it was too flat and easy and also a bit short, I prefer a harder course where you can go for an attack and make the difference up that way but I finished 11th so I’m quite happy with that all things considered.
After that I got the news that the worlds were my last race for the Continental Squad. I was going to be a stagier for the Pro team, I had already done the Tour of Denmark and Tour de Wallonië before the Worlds. Now they picked me for Franco-Belge, memorial Frank Vandenbroucke and Paris Tours.
With that last one I already had some experience because I did the Paris Tours the year before for the U23 team, but now it was time to race against the big boys. This one was harder and longer but I really enjoyed it, I was involved in many attacks with Gilbert and Pim Ligthart and my form was really good! It was definitely a good experience.
Now the real fun begins as I have a Pro contract with Rabobank for the next 2 years. We had our team presentation earlier in December and our first training camp in Fuerteventura. It’s real now and there’s nothing I wanted more than this.
In January we have another training camp in Spain to get in to top shape for the season, my first race will be Mallorca Challenge and Volta Algarve will follow, after that I race Kuurne Brussel Kuurne. I looking to push myself this season, get stronger and improve my uphill skills and I also want to help the team win as many races as possible.
When I was 18 I thought this was a once in a lifetime chance to live my dream, now I know I’m living it!
Wishing you all a wonderful 2012!
Let’s get this party started!
Revolution 28 Girls Future Stars Madison - Amy Hill & Amy Roberts - Image ©Copyright Anna Magrath
Yes that’s right, it’s that time of the year when our attention here in Europe turns to the warmth of the track as the road season draws to a close and the track season gets underway today with the British National Championships.
So if you’re not lucky enough to be attending the Nationals one of the best ways to see some vibrant cycling action is to attend a Revolution, don’t worry it’s not that sort of revolution! Revolutions are competitive but friendly track meetings between world pro cyclists and the best of British pro cycling, along with the cream of British junior talent. All this is condensed into a Saturday evening of electrifying entertainment.
Bradley Wiggins at The Revolution - Image ©Copyright Revolution
I’m a big fan of the events as you can tell, I’ve attended them since they started in 2003 and the atmosphere is amazing, it’s not intimidating like other sporting events can be, I think that’s mainly down to the fact that cyclists and cycling fans are a uniquely friendly and laid back breed. The Cycling Revolution Series is now in it’s ninth season and it will kick off with the 33rd event on the 29th October 2011. There are four meetings a year [usually one per month], already confirmed for the first is Alex Dowsett from Team Sky, fresh from his National Time Trial victory and I am told more top names are to be confirmed shortly for this first event, but throughout the season you will be able to see the likes of Chris Hoy, and Victoria Pendleton. Confirmed to appear during the season are Team Sky’s Geraint Thomas, Ben Swift, Russell Downing and Pete Kennaugh. Last years Revolution Championship team Maxgear will include Simon Yates, Adam Yates and Chris Lawless. Rapha Condor Sharp will bring- Ed Clancy, Andy Tennant and Dean Downing, and UK Youth will join the action headed by Magnus Backstedt, Steven Burke and James Lowsley-Williams, more will of course be added to the list as the season progresses and riders such as Luke Rowe will be available for selection once the new riders contracts start on January 1st 2012.
Your almost certain to see well known faces past and present wandering around the edge of the track mingling with the crowd. There are stands of cycling goodies, food and drink tempting you to part with your money. A great way work those calories off is to have a go at the Watt Bike Challenge, it’s open to everyone and is a real crowd puller.
The Revolutions give fans a chance to see the worlds best compete in a track league format (it was the first track league in the world). The evening’s are filled with different formats of racing including international grudge matches, where riders temporarily leave their Revolution League team to join with their national team to go against rival countries in crowd pulling races like the teams sprint, it’s a great way to see how on form riders are before the Olympics! The venue and event has a very family friendly atmosphere, it’s a great night of fast paced racing and music which enthrals both newcomers to cycling and those hardy old skool cyclists and fans. I’ve often taken friends with me who have no interest in, or knowledge of track cycling and they always come back for more! It will inspire any child to get into cycling, they’ll be pestering you to arrange a track session or find a club for them to join, I’m yet to be proven wrong on that one! It’s thrilling for youngsters because they see the Juniors [Future Stars] riding the track in the same teams as the pro riders and up against them. All teams compete for points towards the Revolution Championship and the all important winners Black Jersey. There are 8 teams with a mix of international, British and junior riders on each. Last seasons winners Maxgear and the runners up Team Sky will be part of this years line up along with other British Pro teams like Rapha and UK Youth. There’s also a bonus this year because the recent building work is now complete at The National Cycling Centre and the brand new adjoining indoor BMX Centre is now ready for competition and training sessions, so visitors can take a peek at what that has to offer, the BMX facility has a shared reception area with the velodrome.
Throughout the winter the Revolution Series takes place in four Saturday meetings (29th October, 19th November, 7th January and 28th January) at Manchester Velodrome, and with Olympic track tickets sold out, this is the perfect and for some the last time to see the Pro’s ride the boards as they reach their peak form in preparation for London 2012, tickets normally sell out well before the meetings so it pays to book early to bag yourself the best seats! I would recommend buying a season ticket, you get to enter the velodrome early and avoid all the queues via the VIP entrance 30 minutes before the main doors open, ideal on a cold, dark Manchester night. You also get 15% discount from the Revolution shop, but hurry I’m told the Season Tickets are nearly sold out!
To buy tickets you can call the ticket line on: 0843 208 0500
or click here to be taken to the Revolution Website to buy tickets online.
For more information on past and future Cycling Revolution Series Events please go to the Revolution’s BRAND NEW website by clicking here.
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Revolution 28 British Team Sprint Line Up LtoR: David Daniell, Ross Edgar, Pete Mitchell - Image ©Copyright Anna Magrath