Although the exact location is yet to be finalised, the site in northern Italy will be primarily used by members of BC’s Olympic Academy men’s endurance squad from February 2016. The new training base will also complement BC’s development programmes in BMX and mtb.
“Italy is a good fit for under-23 endurance riders — it’s got the best racing programme for riders that age, it’s not shy of challenging terrain, the climate is good, and we have good knowledge of the area,” said BC’s performance pathway manager, Ian Yates.
“Also, a northern Italian base extends to benefit our other programmes: it has great mountain bike trails, it’s possible to train at altitude and there are good track facilities. We want it to work even better than the previous set-up there.”
BC previously hosted its men’s endurance Academy riders in the Tuscan town of Quarrata between 2006 and 2010, a system that produced the likes of Mark Cavendish, Geraint Thomas, Peter Kennaugh and Ian Stannard.
That model was inspired by an Australian equivalent set up in the late 1990s by Canberra-born Brian Stephens, the man who BC has appointed as its new Olympic Development Programme coach. Stephens — brother of Orica-GreenEdge DS, Neil — helped nurture the careers of Simon Gerrans, Michael Matthews and Michael Rogers in this role.
“I really believe in the concept, I believe it’s the way forward,” said Stephens. “We’re setting up an environment in which the riders will need to work hard, but one in the best surroundings we can provide to help their development. Riders will be away from distractions, and they can concentrate on all the facets of cycling on and off the bike.”
Recent Academy graduates include Simon Yates, Owain Doull and Andy Fenn; however, riders such as Adam Yates and Tao Geoghegan Hart have opted to find their feet in continental amateur road teams instead.
Revamped women’s programme
British Cycling will create women’s road race development programme similar to that already in place for male riders. This will see a Great Britain women’s team competing in national and international events to provide valuable experience for riders.
In addition, the women’s academy endurance squad will shift its base from Newport, Wales, to the National Cycling Centre in Manchester. The changes have been made with an eye on developing talent for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.
“The decision to move the women’s endurance squad back to Manchester from their temporary base in Newport means they will be more connected to the podium programme, and we are very pleased to establish a women’s road race programme – a move which will help us enhance the development of female road riders for Tokyo and beyond,” said Yates.
The relocation also means they will benefit from the world-class performance support services at the team’s HQ, and although they will be residentially based in the UK, they too will benefit from the establishment of the European training base – as will our track sprint, mountain bike and BMX riders.”