Our expectation of young riders
We all had and want the continual beauty of youth.The young have adventures and seem to be smiling as our sporting world takes a few performance steps backward and eases into the easy armchairs.
Lets skip to the professional ranks of pro-cycling.The neo-pro rider has now made the team and signed their first contract after many years of racing and training at races around Europe.The big time is here now for them.Our expectations of them as a faraway fan is becoming a part of their lives.The modern in touch world is here.
The dreams you have as a younger cyclist can sometimes turn a bit sour as we get into adulthood.We may not succeed to the standards as set by our expectations.So what can hinder a neo-pro and their career aspirations? They want to be like the heros that they had.They want their rides to emulate the careers of Kelly and Roche,being world champions and riding,winning classics and grand tours as if they owned them.Sometimes we dont understand as fans how the stars of yesterday got there and what they had to endure to succeed in a hard sporting arena.
Why do we see few young riders succeeding in the way we want them to? Why is there too much failure in the pro ranks? And why are the the public, the fans like you and me impatient for them to succeed?
Being young and growing up,your cycling life was about Kelly and Roche or other similar pro heros of ours winning races across Europe,gathering legions of fans and becoming genuine legends in the hardest sport known to proper sports fans.We all lived for their success but we left them alone when they were down on their form,luck and injured.There was no-other way at the time.We rarely had access to more information except a sports bulletin or a well thumbed newspaper.
The pressure is heaped upon young riders from an early age.The stress of expectation can have a negative impact on a riders performace over a period of time and the body may not react to the demands of training and racing.The development process of the body can be a exhausting wake-up call to growing up in a pressure cooker envirorment.The modern cyclists and their trainers will hope hopefully recognise this and determine the proper approach for the rider to take.This stress can lead to a loss in preformance and overtraining so potentially a catch 22 situation may happen with a rider having a drop in both emotional and physical performance.This can have an impact of a possible chance of injury.This in its self can have an effect on riders as they may not have a support network around him or her to cope during a time off the bike.And this living away from home.
We as fans,can contribute to the pressure a rider might endure due to modern media and our need for instant heroes.The hype and column inchs given to stories about an heroic day on a bike will win a rider new fans,will sell magazines and clicks on a website.But as fans we need to let riders develop and mature as normal people and grow rather than living their dreams with them.We need them to be in a more relaxed and nurthuring team where thay can grow as a normal person as well as being a professional bike rider.
While we see riders who are languishing as a domestique on a pro-conti team you can also see the riders that rise to the top.The maturity of a rider typically comes around 27 to 30 where he is in the position to ride grand tours and has a successful cycling career.This is when the mature rider had the ability to handle training and racing loads and perform at a high level.The ability of a team and rider to handle the loads pre maturity takes both patience and planning form all parties involved.This may only happen to few riders who eventually go on to be grand tour winners.They are few in number.
When a rider goes to a new team he might be introduced to new trainer methods and they have to be ready and able to evolve with himself and understand their own body.There have been numerous stories of riders being left alone by teams and having a lack of support from their teams.This situation seems to be lessening as the new cycling era professionalism takes a more holistic approach to rider development.
A rider will have good days and he will have those bad days where as fans we will share their disapointment.They will have frustrating injuries that need time to heal and there will be training days lost.The form will wain for another few months.The racing form might be erratic and the weight of expectation will continue to be over-bearing from all sections of the cycling circle.It takes the support and understand of a team to help a rider plot his way through a successful career and these lean times.While he may feel the stagnation of a career at times its important for a rider to have the support and stability around him to continue making progress in a demanding and harsh sport.The lean years are the learning years for many.
For every Ryan Mullen and Sam Bennett there will be other riders similar grafting away and hoping to get that break.The pressure only starts when a pro-contract is signed.We hope they all riders succeed but plenty will fall by the wayside due to the demands needed for success.We look at the pressure on Eddie Dunbar,with his aggressive riding style that endears him to many but again he is starting on his cycling career and recent injuries have shown us how hard cycling can be.We as fans can only try and understand the constant pressure the road to success is.
In finishing,I wish all new pro riders well.Its a hard road and a bubble.