As the 2013 road season begins, the Welsh Cycling Junior Programme athletes descend on Newport for a training camp in preparation for early competition both in Great Britain and abroad.
Following the postponement of the first round of the National Junior Road Series, Cadence Road Race in Powys, due to unseasonable snowfall in late March the riders were in for a hard week of training encompassing road and track with evening workshops delivered by Sport Wales specialists.
Welsh Cycling Junior Programme Coach, Mike Heaven, believes the camp experience provides junior athletes with a great team experience.
“The camps aim to give the riders the opportunity to ride and train as part of a team, working on key areas that will help develop the athletes into better all-round bike riders. As well as improving overall fitness, skills and techniques, it is important the riders develop a good understanding of the demands of the discipline they are trying to excel in and get a taste for what life will be like as a Professional in the sport."
With the support of Sport Wales through workshops, the Junior Programme athletes have the opportunity to receive expert advice at a crucial point in their cycling career.”
The introduction of the four woman team pursuit by the UCI meant the junior women had a lot to learn on the track. They were moving on from a team of three competing over three kilometres, to a quartet with an increased distance of four kilometres.
“With an extra rider being introduced to the junior women’s team pursuit the riders have had to work on all aspects of the discipline. Four extra laps may not sound like a lot but when you are on your limit, for laps could lose you a lot of time. It's amazing how much extra training in terms of hours spent in the saddle are required for an additional four laps of effort.”
A combination of track sessions at Wales National Velodrome and structured road rides around south Wales make up the programme for a junior training camp, with the addition of workshops each evening delivered by Welsh Cycling and Sport Wales specialists
Getting nutrition right is important for any athlete in order to optimise performance, health and recovery. The hands-on workshop led by Olivia Busby, Sport Wales Performance Nutritionist allowed the riders to experiment and create practical ideas to include in a training diet.
“The Junior riders created a range of homemade smoothies, recovery drinks and quick training snacks.” Olivia explained, “It is important for young athletes to understand the key elements of a performance diet and to develop their food preparation skills. This will equip them with the knowledge and ability needed to support their development as an athlete.”
Olivia emphasised the importance of understanding key food groups and getting the balance of these right to effectively fuel and recover around training as well as contribute to an overall healthy diet. As part of the Welsh Cycling partnership with USN (Ultimate Sports Nutrition) at competitions Junior Programme athletes are supplied with a small range of USN products, including the ready to drink USN Protein Fuel shakes, which help speed up muscle recovery after racing. However it is important for junior riders to understand that the natural foods and drinks used during the workshop can also be used to support effective recovery from racing.
The stretches and roller workshop, delivered by Sport Wales physiotherapist Dan Grimstead also taught the athletes how to look after the bodies when not on the bike. This will assist in the recovery of muscles after training and ease the pain of any niggling injuries.
The junior riders have had a successful start to the season. Amy Hill won the overall general classification at the Energiewacht Tour earlier this month, and a team of four junior women head to Omloop van Borsele this weekend for a three-day stage race. The junior men will also travel to Hog Hill for the second round of the National Junior Road Series. Zach May won stage one of the Junior Tour of the Mendips, and the team will be hoping to build on that experience.