Open night at Oaklands College as cycling academy looks at less-traditional selection procedure
- Credit: OAKLANDS WOLVES
A unique cycling academy in St Albans is looking to push the envelope further by the creation of an emerging talent squad - with an open day focusing their view on the young people of Hertfordshire.
Heading into their fifth year, the Oaklands College-based system has been the only one of its kind in the country and have looked down a more traditional avenue of selection.
But now academy head Jez Cox is looking at those promising youngsters who might have normally slipped beneath their radar.
He said: "Our riders come from all over the country. The ones that are coming in September have had to effectively prove themselves as cyclists and send in their results.
"But it’s not about selecting the best riders, it is about selecting the riders who will get the most out of the academy environment.
"We don’t tend to get the novice cyclists applying but what we want to try this year is have an emerging talent group.
"That will have riders who will benefit from less volume of training but really specialist coaching to bring them up to speed.
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"They might have come from another sport, they might not have come from any sport but they might show a particular talent in certain things where we can offer them something and develop them before gradually merging them with the other riders."
He openly admits that it is something of an unknown but he does believe that it could attract some who may not have even considered cycling.
"We’re quite niche," he said. "At the moment you have to be a regular cyclist, then you have to be living in St Albans or willing to spend the money to come and live here, then you have to be ready to study at Oaklands and all of this is a funnelling down procedure or already quite small numbers.
"This might be something different."
The open night takes place on Tuesday, June 15 and is aimed at schoolchildren who could be drifting between sports or who are already coming to Oaklands.
Cox said: "The night will basically have an open session with some of our Wattbikes, we are sponsored by them, where we will have some really simple tests.
"We can give feedback and then some advice based on that and if there are enough of them we will take them into our programme."