Credit: SWPix

Applications are now being accepted by the Great Britain Cycling Team (GBCT) for talented riders looking to join the newly re-named Olympic Development Squads and Podium Potential Squads for sprint, endurance, mountain bike cross-country, BMX racing and BMX freestyle park.

The GBCT is one of the most successful Olympic and Paralympic sports teams in British history and its performance pathways support the development journey for the country’s most promising riders, providing them with a platform to thrive on the world stage.

The Olympic Development Squads (previously Junior Academy) and Podium Potential Squads (previously Senior Academy) have been renamed to better reflect the rider experience and expectations through each programme.

The GBCT performance pathway has previously supported a host of the sport’s biggest names, including Dame Laura Kenny, Paralympic champion Helen Scott, Tom Pidcock and Mark Cavendish, to name just a few.

The current intake of riders, aged 16+, has continued to enjoy success in recent years, including Hayden Norris, Harry Ledingham-Horn, and Ed Lowe claiming the under-23 men’s team sprint European title, and a bronze medal in the same event at the elite UCI Track Nations Cup in Milton.

Having only launched last summer, the newly-developed BMX racing and BMX freestyle park pathways have seen Emily Hutt take two UEC BMX Racing European Cup round podiums so far, while junior freestyle park rider Sasha Pardoe competed in the elite category at her first world championships in Abu Dhabi.

Rider Experience

Athletes that have followed the performance pathway include current four-time national sprint champion Emma Finucane, and recent Tour de Romandie stage winner Ethan Hayter.

On developing through the programme, Finucane said: “My time on Senior Academy really helped my development as a rider and a person. I learnt how to live away from home, cook nutritious meals and be more independent.

“It also allowed me to gain loads of experience by racing around the world with world class coaches to give you tactics and advice.”

On his memories of the programme and progressing to become an elite road and track rider alongside his Great Britain teammates, Hayter said: “It really helped me develop in the long run, in a good and fun environment. I have loads of memories, but the main part was just spending so much time with your group of friends and the guys you’re training with.

“It’s really strange watching your friends [race] on TV or being in the races with them. It’s strange but it’s nice that you’ve come on the same pathway together.”

Tom Stanton, Head of Performance Pathways for the Great Britain Cycling Team said: “Within the GBCT, a huge part of our work is to scout out and develop the most promising young cyclists and give them the skills and ability to be some of the most successful athletes in the world, strengthening Great Britain’s cycling legacy.

“We pride ourselves on not just developing skilled bike riders, but well-rounded individuals who have unique experiences, life skills and are equipped for life off the bike. This is what makes our performance pathway one of the strongest in UK sport.”

Squad Overviews

The Olympic Development Squad is focused on developing the country’s best young riders, ensuring that they are ready for life as full-time athletes. This will include opportunities to race at international competitions in preparation for riding in major events at a senior level.

Overview of key elements per discipline:

  • Sprint and Endurance Olympic Development Squads: Age 16 – 18, camp-based, decentralised.
  • MTB Cross-Country Olympic Development Squad: Age 16-18, camp-based, decentralised.
  • BMX Racing Olympic Development Squad: Age 15-18, camp-based, decentralised.
  • BMX-Freestyle Park Olympic Development Squad: Age 14+, camp-based, decentralised.
  • The Podium Potential Squads aim to further develop our riders and ensure they are equipped to compete for medals at world championships and Olympic Gamesin the future.

Plans are currently being finalised to evolve the former Senior Academy Endurance Programme in response to the changing sporting landscape and move to a model that forges stronger relationships with pro teams to effectively develop the country’s best riders both on the road and on the track.

The final details of the 2023/24 programme are still being worked through, but British riders are expected to continue to compete in the UEC Under-23 European Road Championships and UCI Road World Championships. The Olympic Development Squad programme will be unaffected by the changes.

Overview of key elements per discipline:

  • Sprint Podium Potential Squads: Age 18-22, centralised, full-time. Endurance Podium Potential Squads: Age 18-22, decentralised, full-time.
  • MTB Cross-Country Podium Potential Squad: Age 18-22, decentralised, full-time.
  • BMX Racing Podium Potential Squad: Age 18-22, centralised, full-time.
  • BMX Freestyle Park Podium Potential Squad: Age 18+, decentralised, full-time.

Academy applications are open until 5:00pm on Friday 30 June 2023. You can find more information and apply here.