Faster with Dr Hutch: Stepping up to the senior ranks

How a rider makes that difficult transition from U-23 to the senior ranks and how the latest wunderkinds are changing the game

Faster podcast with Dr Hutch
(Image credit: Stripped media)

This time on Faster, the Dr Hutch podcast, I’m talking to Joe Laverick and Alex Dowsett, and the question is how exactly a rider makes that difficult transition from under-23 (what used to be called “amateur”) to professional.

Joe is a talented British U-23 rider based in Girona with the Hagens Berman Axeon team – probably the most successful development team in the world.

Alex rode for the same team in 2010, before moving on to Sky, Movistar, Katusha-Alpecin and Israel Start-up Nation and winning, among other things, two stages of the Giro d’Italia and almost as many national time-trial championships as me.

We look at the pressures on young riders, who have just two or three seasons to plot the biggest move of their whole careers. It’s a transition which has been made all the harder as Covid ravages their racing programme, and by changing demands in the World Tour – as Alex puts it, “Directors aren’t looking for under-23s any more, they’re looking for children. They all want to find the next Remco Evenepoel.”

We discuss how to balance your own long-term development with the immediate need to attract attention, how you manage issues like body weight when you might be under pressure from coaches with a rather short-term view of your usefulness, and how you learn to not just ride like a pro, but live like a pro as well. (A base in Girona helps, apparently.)

And we hear how the current scramble for young talent might have led a top-level team to sign a rider based entirely on the results from a dodgy power meter.

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Michael Hutchinson is a writer, journalist and former professional cyclist. As a rider he won multiple national titles in both Britain and Ireland and competed at the World Championships and the Commonwealth Games. He was a three-time Brompton folding-bike World Champion, and once hit 73 mph riding down a hill in Wales. His Dr Hutch columns appears in every issue of Cycling Weekly magazine

As a writer, he wrote the award winning The Hour about his attempt on the sport’s most famous and sought-after record. He followed that up with Faster, about the training, the science the genetics and the luck behind the world’s fastest riders, and Re:Cyclists, a history of cyclists from 1816 to the present day.

He’s written for outlets ranging from Cycling Weekly to the New York Times, and has presented and and commentated for the BBC, Eurosport, Channel 4, and Sky Sports.

Before he did any of that he was a legal academic at Cambridge and Sussex universities. He now lives with far too many bicycles in London and Cambridgeshire.