British Cycling: Will new structures benefit MTB riders?

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British Cycling has announced a number of changes to its Talent Development Programme, which will hopefully be welcome among the MTB and off road community. Highlights includes a first lead coach for female riders, dedicated support for MTB gravity and cyclo-cross, and a clearer pathway for aspiring riders across the disciplines.

British Cycling says the changes are ‘designed to ensure closer integration with the Great Britain Cycling Team’ and ‘will better enable British Cycling and its network of Talent Development Coaches to provide positive and engaging opportunities for young riders across the disciplines.’

It will be interesting to see how these policy changes translate to action on the ground and support at races – many of you will recall that Downhill rider Jack Reading was very critical of British Cycling role on the gravity scene, as detailed in this article he published here (we did ask British Cycling for comment on that piece, but they declined, wanting to wait for this announcement we have below).

Picture by Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com.

Here’s the full information from British Cycling on the new changes:

Pathway integration

From April 2021, the Great Britain Cycling Team Foundation Programme (Road and Track) will be incorporated into the British Cycling Talent Development Programme. This will align road and track with the other cycling disciplines and ensure a more streamlined pathway for talented riders.

As a result of the change, all English Youth riders (under 16) will be supported by British Cycling Talent Development coaches, with the Great Britain Cycling Team programme then supporting riders from the Junior age category onwards.

Current Great Britain Cycling Team Foundation riders who are part of the 2021/22 cohort will continue to be part of the programme with the same appointed coach. This level of the pathway will be renamed as the National School of Racing Foundation Programme.

The newly-merged British Cycling Talent Development Road and Track coaching team will grow from four to five coaches, while excellent collaboration with Scottish Cycling and Welsh Cycling in this area will continue to be a key strength of the programme.

Commenting on the changes, Great Britain Cycling Team Performance Director Stephen Park said:

“With just over 100 days to go, we are in the final stages of preparing for the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games, with preparations for Paris also well underway.

“However, LA and subsequent Games beyond that are very much on our radar, and British Cycling’s pathway structure is renowned for delivering the next generation of Olympic and Paralympic stars.

“The evolution of the Olympic Foundation Programme will enable clearer targets and improved visibility of the route to representing Great Britain at the highest level.

“By working together in this way, the Talent Development Team and the Great Britain Cycling Team will be able to better ensure that riders have the right skills and attributes to seamlessly progress from being Youth riders and onto the Junior Academy Programme.”

Tom Stanton, Performance Pathway Manager for the Great Britain Cycling Team, said:

“This is a positive move to ensure the Great Britain Cycling Team’s legacy of success continues long into the future.

“It will allow for the support team who work at the Podium and Academy end of the pathway to really focus on their preparations for the next Games, while allowing more tailored support for riders at the Youth end of the pathway.

“It also means we can implement clear and consistent benchmarks throughout the stages of development a rider goes through, not only for our own Pathway but for external cycling development programmes.”

Talent Development Coach – Female Lead 

The organisation is pleased to announce that Tiffany Fletcher will become its first Talent Development Coach – Female Lead, having initially joined the organisation as a Go-Ride Coach.

Working closely with clubs, riders and parents, Tiffany will lead on a number of key projects including: understanding the barriers to young females racing; supporting the long-term development of female riders; and increasing the number of club activities for women and girls. In addition to this, she will support the broadening of the road and track pathway and existing talent transfer initiatives.

MTB Gravity


Michael Vickers has joined the Talent Development coaching team as Talent Development Coach for MTB Gravity. A well-established and recognised coach and educator, Michael will be tasked with developing and integrating the pathway for MTB Gravity, with a strong focus on young people, clubs, teams and the next generation of gravity riders.

A number of Gravity Development Hubs will be launched over the next six months across the country to foster stronger relationships with the Gravity community.

Picture by Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com.

Cyclo-Cross

After a successful pilot in 2019, cyclo-cross will now become an integral part of the talent pathway with Matt Ellis joining the programme as the Talent Development Coach for Cyclo-Cross. 

With an initial focus on providing regular and accessible Development Centre opportunities across the regions, and the implementation of a new rider framework of skills and benchmarks, Matt will continue to support the country’s best young cyclo-cross riders to fulfil their ambitions.

Commenting on the changes, British Cycling’s Cycling Delivery Director, Dani Every, said:

“We’re immensely proud of the part our British Cycling and Great Britain Cycling Team coaches have played in preparing young British riders to develop, compete and thrive on the highest stages over recent years.

“The evolution of our offering announced today ensures a better and more progressive rider experience, closer integration between the different levels of the pathway, greater parity among our disciplines and a clear commitment to providing dedicated and tailored support for young female riders.

“After a challenging year where coaching and racing opportunities have sadly been limited, I know just how pleased our young riders and their coaches have been to get back into the swing of things over recent weeks and make up for lost time.”

Joe Malik, British Cycling Talent Development Manager, said:

“We’re thrilled to be welcoming Tiffany, Michael and Matt into the Talent Development team, which I know will really enhance our ability to nurture and support female, gravity and cyclo-cross riders, and they will be working hard with clubs and club coaches to support talent identification and provide opportunities for high potential riders whatever their cycling background.

“We already have a number of really exciting projects ready to launch in 2021 which will further enhance our offering, and once again highlight our commitment to ensuring that the talent pathway is more accessible, cohesive and flexible than ever before.

“We’re incredibly thankful for the ongoing backing of Sport England in developing the talent pathway in England, and the wider support which they have offered to the sector as we have gradually re-introduced activity over recent weeks.”

For more information on the British Cycling Talent Development Programme, click here. British Cycling is currently reviewing its offer for disabled riders with further details to be announced in due course, and you can find out more about current opportunities here.

What say you?

Viewing 5 posts - 1 through 5 (of 5 total)
  • NEWS: British Cycling: Will new structures benefit MTB riders?
  • Premier Icon DickBarton
    Full Member

    Sounds ok, if you are only interested in racing (and seem to still be all roads leading to Road and Track). Doesn’t seem to change anything if you don’t compete with the aim of winning everything.
    Competition is great, but isn’t the only thing going with cycling. I’m hoping with these changes they’ll also be adding more to encourage people just to ride their bikes as well.

    Premier Icon drinfinity
    Free Member

    Interested by the Gravity Development Hubs. The current talent centres are great, but very ‘carbon hardtail’. Support for youth riders on more technical ground would be popular here.

    Premier Icon steveh
    Full Member

    If it works out as described in some of the meetings I’ve been in it will be a good thing. There’s a lot of work to be done with mtbers and bc, quite a bit of it unfairly I feel, but they are aware of it and working towards making things better.

    Premier Icon matt_outandabout
    Full Member

    It seems a positive move, I hope it works out for the young riders who are the heart of this.

    Unfortunately I’m still rather pessimistic about these things. I and my eldest have been on the wrong end of really rude BC/Scottish Cycling senior coaches, I’ve had all my coaching paperwork lost, been sent on wild goose chase to assessments that were cancelled but no one told the candidates, and told off by road coach on assessment for suggesting what is good technique on MTB, and failed my assessment as I was 30 seconds short of a 10 minute session length – and the session was described as ‘one of the best I’ve seen’. I was so frustrated with this and local club politics that I’ve given up coaching.

    Culturally there is a lot of work to do still.

Viewing 5 posts - 1 through 5 (of 5 total)

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