Ben Swift believes that moves to replace chunks of the race programme of the British Cycling academy with a new reliance on external development teams is a positive step forward for cycling, and will only encourage rider development.
Speaking to Cycling Weekly, Swift explained that he feels the access to the development wings of trade teams is only a good thing for British riders.
“I spoke to a few of the guys that are on the academy now about them being sent into different development trade teams. I think it’s quite a good thing now and shows progression of the sport in general,” he said.
“A lot of the big teams do have development teams whereas when I was younger it didn’t happen. Our main pathway was through the track then developing and progressing that way.
“I think it’s just a testament to cycling really how that’s progressed. I think putting the guys in development teams like that will progress them and give them massive skills in controlled environments,” he added.
Yesterday, Cycling Weekly revealed that changes to the academy road setup will see riders working with development teams in Europe alongside receiving support from the academy.
Academy head coach Matt Brammeier said that working with development teams in Europe will provide much more race day experience for his riders along with other important development opportunities.
“When you’re racing in Europe you’ve got a million and one things to think about including learning a language, and gaining a bit of independence. So this is a benefit to them and will help them in the long run,” Brammeier said.
His opinion was echoed by Swift: “These development teams, the way that they’re run, they can ride professional races up to a certain level so they’re getting that little bit more exposure there.
“When I was in the academy, obviously we did the Tour of Britain and stuff like that, which are pro races, but I think it’s good now to have these teams and they are going to get a much higher level of exposure to racing.”
Swift explained that he feels nowadays it’s crucial for young riders to get into Europe for racing opportunities due to the standard of racing in Britain not being at a sufficient level.
“I think it’s crucial to be in Europe really. Unfortunately, I don’t think the standard in Britain is high enough. If anything, it’s declining,” he said.
“There’s less and less teams and it’s just not professional enough in Britain. Obviously you’ve got the Tour of Britain but as a continuous racing experience, you need to be on the continent, that’s where the racing is at."
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