The board of British Cycling has approved significant changes to the youth competition programme from 2016 following an in-depth multi-disciplinary review.
The changes are part of an ongoing response to the increasing numbers of young people who want to take part in cycle sport and are founded on three key principles:
- Youth cycling should be fun. For young riders, building a lifelong passion for cycling through the development of core skills should be the focus and primary outcome.
- Youth cycling should be accessible. From club coaching activities to competition opportunities to equipment, young people should have the opportunity to access the sport and cost should not be a barrier.
- Youth cycling should be simple and easy to understand. The rules, regulations and other information should be clear and easy to follow for all involved.
British Cycling president Bob Howden said: “At British Cycling, we recognise the huge importance of providing opportunities for young people to engage in cycling in a way which gives them the best possible experience of our sport.
“Across Britain, we want children and their parents to make a positive decision to choose cycling because it is fun and accessible, and also develops skills and passion for a sport which will help keep them active and healthy all their lives.
“What we are announcing today are the key changes as approved by the board of British Cycling, further details will be communicated to parents and riders in due course.”
An initial phase of consultation with stakeholders including the board of British Cycling, regional boards, discipline-specific commissions, riders and parents, officials, organisers, coaches and team managers took place over the summer of 2014.
The feedback was consolidated and common themes were identified. Proposals were then discussed within the discipline specific commissions to ensure the changes, while helping to achieve greater consistency across the sport, were relevant to each discipline.
The feedback through the consultation period highlighted the three common themes which have formed the basis of the discussions when focussing on specific disciplines.
As part of the process it was recognised that the competition programme provides a mechanism for talent identification and development for the Great Britain Cycling Team, but the focus is predominantly on riders aged 13 and older.
For younger riders, the focus should be on fun and enjoyment where the competitive elements are managed within the context of the level of event and the ages of the riders competing.
A phased approach has been taken and the impact will be reviewed through the 2016 season and recommendations for further changes will be considered and implemented in 2017-2018. The initial focus has been on the national level of competition and that focus is expected to shift to the pathway from regional to national level in the future.
Changes across all disciplines
- New board policy decision to only allow National Records, Championships and Series categories (including associated series standings and national rankings) for riders aged 13 and older.
- New board policy decision to only allow international representation for riders aged 13 and older.
- Prizes for children aged 12 or under to be in the form of trophies, medals or similar.
- Equality of prizes for boys and girls.
- Improved calendar coordination to reduce the impact during exam periods.
- Further development of education for riders and parents to demystify the pathway through the sport and the various disciplines.
Changes specific to road/circuit
- Points and dispensation thresholds will be changed in an effort to become more meaningful and reduce ‘points-chasing’.
- Points and rankings for riders aged 12 and under will be removed.
- Equipment regulations have been updated to reduce the cost, perceived or real, of competing. For Youth B and younger riders, rim depth will be regulated for circuit events to a maximum of 35mm with a minimum of 16 and a maximum of 40 spokes.
Changes specific to BMX
BMX will need to undergo a number of significant changes and therefore these policies will be phased in over two years.
- BMX National Series categories (including associated series standings and national rankings) will be for riders aged 9 or older in 2016, moving to 13 or older in 2017. Events for younger categories are still encouraged, but the format of these will change to be non-ranking support races.
- BMX international representation will be unchanged for 2016 as the qualification process for the BMX World Championships has already started. Representation for the 2017 UCI BMX World Championships and all other international events will only be for riders aged 13 and over.
Changes in some of the other cycle sport disciplines are still being considered by the various commissions but it is the expectation that all disciplines will be fully aligned by 2017.
British Cycling welcomes any feedback on the changes, please send to: firstname.lastname@example.org