Six of British Cycling’s Olympic Development Programme mountain bike athletes will experience international competition this weekend on and off road.
Thomas Craig, Mark McGuire, Frazer Clacherty, Evie Richards and Ella Conolly travel to the UCI junior mountain bike series, taking place in Italy, while Ffion James joins the road and track endurance squad at the Energiewacht Tour.
For the first time British Cycling’s Olympic Development Programme coach Simon Watts is approaching competition with a dual purpose.
“It’s the first time that the mountain bike programme has a group of five second-year junior athletes who are competitive” Watts explains.
“Data, observations and experience would suggest that some are now ready to step up and be competitive at world level. This will bring a slightly different element to the trips in comparison to previous years, as we will have a performance expectation as well now.”
The squad’s first European competition this season is part of a bigger objective to support the riders on to the Olympic Academy Programme, with training camps being built around future rounds in Austria and Germany.
“This is the first time we have done this with juniors at this time of the year, giving them a fantastic experience of a European block. It’s a big step for them that will involve some real challenge and the need for them to step outside of their comfort zone at times, however it’s an opportunity they have earned with their effort and application over the winter.”
Watts is keen to stress that first year Ella Conolly will focus on learning from the more experienced riders when she rides in Italy and Germany, while youth riders Daniel Tullet and Emily Wadsworth will join the squad at the third event to increase their exposure to international competition.
Great Britain Cycling Team for UCI Junior Series XCO - Trofeo Delcar, Italy