The British Cycling Youth Workgroup, set up to perform a complete review of all aspects of youth cycling, is calling on British Cycling members to give their views on plans for the future of youth cycling.
After an initial consultation earlier this year, the workgroup identified that, to encourage as many young people to get into cycling as possible, there must be an emphasis on making the sport fun, accessible and easy to understand. The group acknowledged that talent identification for the Great Britain Cycling Team is still crucial, but that this should only become a priority from the age of 13 upwards.
British Cycling Board member George Gilbert, who oversees the work of the group, said:
“British Cycling has a fantastic reputation in this country for developing young riders and bringing them through to elite level. Almost two thirds of the riders on our GB Cycling Team started out in the sport in our Go Ride clubs. This has seen us top the medal tables at the last two Olympic Games.
“However, we never rest on our laurels and we are always looking for new ways to improve our development pathway. Young people are the future of our sport and it is vital that we engage with them and encourage as many people as possible to get on a bike. I hope we get some great engagement from our members as we look to firm up our plans for the next few years.”
The Workgroup has proposed that these changes are implemented in two phases from 2016 onwards.
The first phase would see national competitions only open to riders aged 13 and older while those under that age bracket will compete at a local and regional level with ranking points no longer available.
The group also proposes updating equipment regulations to reduce costs to parents with more emphasis on designing races with the ability of the riders in mind, limiting the need for a dispensation system. British Cycling will also produce a guide that covers the whole of youth cycling - from getting young people started in the sport through to competitive racing.
In 2017 the second phase of the project will aim develop the pathway from local to national competition. The structure of the calendar will aim to reduce the number of national events and increase the focus on local and regional competition, skill development and rest. There will be three levels of competition, starting at local, progressing to regional and then finally national events.
Local events will focus on enjoyment with no prizes or results available, therefore encouraging riders of all ages and abilities to take part and develop new tactics and skills.
Regional level event will aim to introduce the more competitive side of the sport with more racing available and a small number of events acting as qualifiers for national races.
British Cycling members are invited to feedback on the proposed changes. Responses should be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org by Sunday 30 November.