Making it!! do you think he or she will make it! He / she didn’t make it! He/ she will never make it!
These are some of the things you are likely to hear about talented or perceived talented Irish Cyclists. So what are people talking about.
Usually making it implies getting a professional contract. Now in my mind what a professional cyclist is, is some one who is paid by a team to race.
Top 300 Professionals
To get into the top 500 of the Worlds professional road cyclist’s a person needs to be physically gifted. They need to have something special to offer a professional team. They also need to have a constitution like a horse to survive the physical stress.
A lot of young cyclists will have the big dream to be a successful professional cyclist. Some coaches and Parents will get caught up in the dream and support the cyclist very strongly. Unfortunately sometimes this could be based on unrealistic assessment of the cyclists ability.
How much can cyclists earn?
Cycling, like all sports has a limited time for an athlete to make money. There are a number of the very best cyclists that make very good money. However there are cyclists in the teams outside World Tour Teams that are not well paid. Indeed some on continental teams may even be paying their way onto teams. CYCLIST SALARIES
When you see how precarious it is and how few make it to the top level, education for alternative employment should always be considered.
Physical Requirements research
A cyclists needs to be getting standout results to get to Professional level. This will be obvious as the cyclist progresses through the grades.
However, even though a cyclist might show great promise as a Junior Cyclist theres no guarantee that the rider will become professional. The great Mapei Coach Aldo Sassi RIP who was coach to some of the great Professionals researched Italian junior progressions. He determined that its not possible to identify who will be professional from Junior level. His research.., Aerobic Fitness Variables do not predict the professional career of JUNIOR CYCLISTS
Strong Mental skills
Strong mental skills are a must to cope with the lifestyle as well as training and competition. Most of all they need to really like the career choice as there are likely to be many tough days along with the successes.
They also need a lot of emotional intelligence to work within a team structure. This will require them to cope with all the various styles of mangers and coaches that they will have to deal with. The politics of working within the team might be very demanding also, especially in competition between athletes for selection for big events..
Be sure the talent is there
To put someone into this environment who doesn’t have the physical or mental attributes or are poorly prepared could be very damaging to them.
For example while probably well meaning, someone buying a cyclists way into a team or pulling favours to get a rider into a team might not be doing the rider a favour.
The Genetic Performance ceiling
Everyone has their individual genetic ceiling that no amount of training or coaching will overcome. There are genetic ceilings in the various components required to be a top professional. That’s why we have the big sprinters and tiny climbers who perform so well in the big professional bike races. Also the ones in between who win the Grand Tours by being great all rounders.
The importance of a realistic approach.
Winning races in Ireland does not mean that the rider is world class. As the rider progresses there will be challenges at each level. And its very simple.
The potential professional / World class cyclist will usually adapt and excel at each level. This is particularly so when the rider meets international competition.
International events a good barometer
This is the difference I have seen over many years. When an Irish team races in major international events. The exceptional rider will settle into performing at the front of the race. While the majority of the Irish team could be struggling to finish with the front group.
Opportunities for top competition and coaching
This is where the National Governing Body comes in. A transparent coaching and competition programme that suitable cyclists can access is essential to develop top cyclists.
A practical pathway for cyclists and coaches from beginners to top international professional cyclists is essential. With a strong pathway system more riders will progress to higher levels.
The base of the pyramid is very important. This is where cyclists can learn great skills and enjoyment of cycling. Great Coaches are required at this stage of the pathway especially. And all that coaching is be carried out within the Club environment..
Being cruel to be kind
So it might be best to be cruel to be kind to riders by letting them fight their way on to a pro team by being successful at all the different stages. If promising riders get the opportunity to race at higher levels the best will adapt and progress. Development and professional teams will find them if they are getting results.
Realistic reviews of their progress at each stage of their pathway could save a lot of heartache. It always seem simple enough to me. Get a blank page Write down the cyclists results on the page. Look at the level and number of races competed in. Review the results achieved. .
Best wishes to all the cyclists who dream of being professional. Hope you make it!