Open Letter to all Athletes, Parents & Coaches
June 10th, 2016
This weekend marks the 10th running of the Tour of Speed. The concept of a youth series was brought to our attention by two members of the Newmarket Eagles Cycling Club – Gord Clarke and Mark Summers and after several meetings draft guidelines were created and the club hosted the inaugural event. It was an instant success and with a few additional tweaks the series became an annual feature on the calendar.
The focus of the series has always been to provide a structured environment for youth to participate in and develop the skills necessary to race a bicycle. It was not intended to be a team event and at the time was structured after British Cycling’s youth program with age appropriate distances. The distances are relatively short and are designed to promote fast individual racing with the goal being that individuals push themselves within the race envelope.
The series is Long Term Athlete Development (LTAD) compliant and has been presented at conferences over the years where it has received many accolades. On paper it is a great concept but we have observed over the years that fun and skill development has become less important than winning and the collection of points. With the variances in physical and mental development in our young athletes winning or collecting the most points is not a reliable indicator of future performance. As our youth mature into “active for life” participants or into our High Performance programs, the riding skills learned and time in sport will ensure they are able to enjoy the Sport of Cycling safely and at whatever level they choose to pursue.
As we observed this year not everyone is on the same page. This is backed up by the record number of complaints we have received about athlete, coach and parent behaviour at the series and it is time for us to step in and put the series back in line with our goals for young athletes.
- Youth cycling is fun;
- For young athletes, building a lifelong passion for cycling through the development of age appropriate core skills is the focus and primary outcome;
- Ultimately the UCI rules with approved amendments govern the sport however the enforcement of the rules shall be guided by common sense and the spirit of fair play;
- Athlete, parent and coach behaviour is subject to the Ontario Cycling Associations’ Code of Conduct.
* developed in part from British Cycling’s guide for youth cycling
Parents and coaches carry a large part of the burden in ensuring that our goals for the series are met. That means your behaviour at the races should be exemplary and that instructions to young athletes are in line with appropriate LTAD principles and skill development. The gradual introduction of team skills may be appropriate with older athletes i.e. U17 but in all cases post race analysis of what developed in the race is likely more relevant than strict team orders. Efforts to slow down a race is not in the best interest of an athlete’s development. It would not be the end of the world if athletes from different teams worked together during a race.
The series is under review and changes will be implemented for 2017 and in the meantime we look to our parents, coaches and athletes to have fun while learning the skills required to race a bicycle.
Jim Crosscombe – Chief Executive Officer
Michael Suraci – Manager of High Performance