Development: how it all stands

Development; a word that, in my situation, I hear all the time. Always analysing your fitness through computer programmes and comparisons on race day. Always having the post-race flash-backs where you replay important tactical moments, whether that’s taking a good position in the peloton or whether to follow an attack, or anything.. There are always a lot of short-term memories to wade through! This isn’t even it for the D-word.. Everyone has advisors, coaches and managers who are always keeping a close eye on the long-term, and making sure everything is on track. Cycling is a sport in which one is likely to reach their peak performances in the late twenties, and considering that most professional cyclists will have started racing from a very young age, you are always looking to the future.

 

I received a nice message through the blog a few weeks ago in which I was asked what type of rider I am, or will be, and it got me thinking much more about the path that every rider must go down with always testing the water and seeing what races fit best for the head and the physiological capabilities. Okay, just to answer the question now, I don’t know exactly what I’ll specialise in. It all points in the direction of the classics and increasingly towards the races where it is a very long and tough day in the saddle with lots of hard intervals in there, so some sort of Belgian style for sure. There is still the difference between the pan-flat races, the cobbled-climbs of Flanders, or the longer hills of the Ardennes, but I’m only 19, I’ll find out soon. I now really appreciate my team’s role in this period of finding myself as we have a seriously strong calendar of races at Leopard Pro Cycling, including a bit of everything, and some very experienced guys around to help us through the process, and this is invaluable…

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Throughout my time growing up in the cycling world so far I’ve tasted a number of different pressures, coming from just pure competitiveness against friends when I was starting out, to requiring results at junior in order to find a strong team as an under 23, but then it gets a bit more complicated. We all get thrown into this very big world at 18 years of age in which we compete against men who were racing bikes at a high level when we were at primary school.. I think the majority of people put pressure on themselves to take very big steps in development very quickly but it needs to be much more natural than that, okay you don’t have years and years but it also does not need to happen in the first few months, not all of us are that fortunate! I’m not saying that we all just sit back and wait for something to suddenly click, instead it can be a long time just plugging away at it until things start to go your way, but it is important to keep your head and not to panic.. Most of the time…

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Being a rider at a team like Leopard Pro Cycling there is obviously pressure to perform just to be in there collecting results and experiences like the teammates, but there is a lot of care for the riders to look after everyone and help us all perform at our best and, most importantly, develop. Our Directeur Sportifs really care about much more than the number next to your name at the end of the race. It’s a tough sport and they have lots of experience in it, so they really know how to keep the riders in the right place. The soigneurs play a similar role in keeping all of us in the right place mentally. Sometimes these guys are really good friends for us and also always seem to know what we want or need to hear.. Finally on the professional side of things I have my coach Magnus Backstedt always keeping a close eye on things and directing me but of course my parents, friends, and my girlfriend Lydia play a big role for me. The reality is that it’s a tough sport and a tough stage to pass through, and keeping your head is an essential part of the development.

As you may have noticed if you follow my social media channels, it has been a tough couple of months for me with illness and crashes. After having a really strong winter and building up high hopes for the start of the season this was tough to deal with, but sorting these problems out and coming back stronger as I am now is proving to be a valuable experience for me, one of many I’m picking up at this stage. And so, development is not only the body adapting to the big strains that it is put under, it is about becoming a true, solid bike racer in the head.. You just have to make sure every setback you get is used to leave you in a better place than before.

 

 

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