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Racing Development Squad

  • i-Team's Racing Development Squad is a new innovation from club coach, Guy Watson, that aims to help our young members manage the transition from Youth to Junior racer, by providing them with support and guidance through what for many for them will be the biggest transition they make in their sport.


Normally a Race Team is set up around a headline sponsor such as a bike shop, and then riders are recruited from surrounding local cycling clubs.  Coach-led club i-Team.cc's innovation is the formation of a Race Team that completes the club development pathway, from our youth section, Portsmouth School of Cycle Racing’ for 8-16 year olds, and then progressing on to our Racing Development Squad for 15+yr olds.

A Balanced Approach:


Previous to forming The Racing Development Squad, i-Team.cc was like most Go-Ride clubs, in that we would identify and nurture talent, and then pass talented riders on to either the Olympic Development Program. (Dani King, Kate Calvert, Jon Dibben, Joe Truman,) or an Elite Team (Richard Heathcote, Dave Sinclair.) Unfortunately, not all talented and ambitious riders are able to follow the same paths, and that's where the Racing Development Squad comes in to provide the support during the transition from ambitious Club Rider to Elite Sportsman or woman, and so help avoid something that no doubt many club cyclists and coaches will be familiar with:

Young rider starts to win some local races, attracts attention of a shop race team or sponsored club, gets offered the chance to ride in a jersey with lots of writing all over it, possibly some help with a bike or equipment and decides to 'move on.'

All too often a young rider with ambition (or overly ambitious parents,) will look at where they are now and where they want to be, draw a line between their current club and a professional team, then think that moving to a new team ot club is the logical next step towards their dream. The reality is that all too often, riders learn that moving to a new club does not suddenly make them a better rider, and in fact what they have done is remove themselves from an environment that was one of the reason they started to be successful in the first place. Some riders niavely think they can always have their cake and eat it, i.e. move on to another club and then expect to still be welcomed on club runs etc. Most clubs will be very supportive if a new club offers new opportunities, i.e. access to National or International races, coaching supports, help with bikes and equipment - however, if a rider says they are 'moving on' and on the face of it, they are just satisfying their ego more than anything else, they should not expect their former club mates to always be as supportive, because essentially the leaver is saying 'I'm better than you lot!'

Now in terms of talent and ability, that may well be the case - but talent without desire to work hard, or ability without guidance, will mean that for the majority of riders who decide to 'Move on,' the reality usually follows one of these 2 scenarios:

  • A perfect storm of trying to manage the biggest transitions they will ever make, from Youth to Junior, without the support network that got them to there in the first place, then not achieving the results that they (or their parents) were expecting, increased pressure & decreased enjoyment. Rider then either spends a season or 2 in the wilderness, with variable results, or worst case 'moves on' from cycling completely.
  • Rider continues to steadily progress towards their goals without dissruption

Unfortunately the last scenario is quite rare and the first scenario is far more common than it should be - so what's the alternative? Riders and parents need to take a reality check and ask themselves:

  • Has anything really held me back yet? - i.e. is the reason that I got a kicking in a National Race, or Overseas Event down to the jersey on my back?
  • How can I get access to better coaching? - i.e. can I stay in the club I'm in and employ my own coach - have I even discussed my training and goals with my club coach yet?

What the Racing Development Squad provides for our riders is a clear route to progress. If we can feed you in to an Elite Team, we will - in the interim, we will teach you how to train, push you to be as good as you can be - and most importantly, teach you how to recognise and appretiate those who support you.

What the Racing Development Squad Provides:


What the Racing Development Squad Expects:


Our Racing Development Squad Riders have very clearly defined responsibilities to their club, sponsors and supporters, and are taught how to maintain their bikes and not expect everything to be done for them. Riders are also taught how to be ‘Brand Ambassadors’ for suppliers associated with the team. In short, we want riders to feel that they have some support – but not feel like ‘they’ve made it,’ so we want them to get used to looking after their sponsors and fulfilling obligations to the team, club and supporters.



  • The riders already know each other well, including their team mates’ individual strengths and weaknesses
  • The riders are already well bonded as a team, and already motivate, encourage and support each other
  • The riders know their coach and Team Manager, now how to train smart and work hard.
  • The Race Team is being funded by some generous patrons and together with support from Southsea Cycles and some negotiations with suppliers, we have been able to secure an excellent team package that includes: 1-2-1 Coaching Package from PowerCoach
  • Plus, any additional help that can be negotiated with any suppliers & supporters who wish to be associated with our team
  • Riders continue to steadily progress towards their goals without dissruption, with the help of a process combining quality coaching, mentoring and self-reflection

Making 'The Grade,' Harnessing Ambition & Managing Transitions :


In 1997 Peter Keen studied the sporting careers of Senior World Champions - statistics showed on average it took 8 years of training to get Olympic Medals. Shorter (e.g. Nicole Cooke) or longer (e.g. Joop Zoetemelk) timescales are possible but there will be increased risk of failure though burn-out & injuries.

Go-Ride & Talent Team became an important priority for BC, the thinking being that starting the 8 year climb early will result in younger champions. Up to 2008 there was a high drop out rate from talent team because the ‘numbers game’ wasn’t working as well as originally thought, because the 8 year climb can only start when a rider is ready mentally & physically.

More emphasis is now being placed on forming club clusters or 'Super Clubs' (ClubMark) to support young riders who start early, or develop late, plus catch any riders who drop off the ODP pathway. This where i-Team.cc sees it's role and how the Racing Development Squad fits in to our development pathway.


Who's Next?




Edited by Guy_Watson

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