'I want to ride in the WorldTour': How British Cycling are using Zwift to help identify young talent

Online training platforms are fast becoming fertile ground for cycling’s talent-spotters. What would it take to make the grade and get noticed on Zwift or Strava? Steve Shrubsall investigates

At just 15 years old, Ben Flatau is aiming for the highest level (Daniel Gould)

The pathway to the top tier of cycling looks like a map of the London Underground. Starting at Club Network, the high-aspiring cyclist will be calling at the Development Centre, the Regional School of Racing, the National School of Racing, the Junior Academy, the Podium Programme and finally fame, glory and a summit finish victory in yellow on Mont Ventoux.

At least that’s how the fairytale traditionally pans out. But how does the talent development system – within British Cycling and more broadly – find the best young riders out there and get them started at their journey’s beginning? And could the virtual world of indoor training and racing on smart-trainers be about to greatly broaden the reach of the talent-spotters?

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Steve has been writing (mainly fitness features) for Cycling Weekly for 11 years. His current riding inclination is to go long on gravel bikes... which melds nicely with a love of carbs