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Club focus: i-Team

10 April 2015

“A coach-led club with a big focus on youth development”. That’s how i-Team’s founder and head coach Guy Watson describes the hugely popular Portsmouth-based cycling club.

This is a club that lives and breathes the spirit of the Youth Cycle Sport “Rules – rewritten for young racing cyclists“.

In this feature Guy tells us how the club sets up its kids for a lifetime of cycling enjoyment and success.

i-Team (The Internet Team www.i-team.cc) was founded in 2003 by Portsmouth School of Cycle Racing coaches Guy Watson and John Hayles (father of Olympic and World Championship medallist Rob Hayles).

From the beginning, i-Team has taken a fresh approach to what a cycling club can be, and has always focused a lot of energy on giving the local cycling community access to quality coaching, especially for young riders at grass-roots level.

Portsmouth School of Cycle Racing (PSoCR) remains the banner name for i-Team’s Go-Ride activities, which includes weekly coaching sessions for under 17s.

i-Team works as a club for our young riders because it introduces them to cycle coaching initially with fun activities that take place at a traffic free facility. Crucially, young riders are then actively encouraged to integrate into the rest of the club, by riding with older members on the open road as soon as they are able.

Once young members can demonstrate that they have the minimum levels of skills and awareness needed, 12 year olds can join our Saturday club rides if accompanied by a parent who is an experienced rider, or non-accompanied riders can join in with club group rides at 14 with parental consent. This helps our young riders to feel that they are part of a team, at the same time as providing them with essential road safety and peloton riding skills and experience that they will keep for life.

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Youths mixing it with the seniors on our Saturday club rides

This progressive and inclusive approach has helped in the development of some notable current and former members including:-

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i-Team rider development pathway

Quotes from Dani King:-

….at Portsmouth track with i-Team. That was my first cycling team with Guy Watson and Rob Hayles’ dad and they’ve helped me a lot…

Sky Sports Article

Big fat tweeeeeeeet for my first ever cycling club #iteamcc #portscycling… without them i wouldn’t be where i am today!”

Twitter

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Dani showing her Olympic gold medal to young club members

One of Dani’s first trips with her new 2012 Olympic Gold Medal was to go back to her roots and come along to one of our Friday Evening sessions at the Mountbatten Centre in Portsmouth and so help inspire the next generation…

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Dani helping to inspire the next generation at one of our sessions…

Of course, not everyone is born to be a champion & not everyone wants to become a racing cyclist. For young riders and their parents, our coaches’ advice has always been:-

  • Learning skills and developing fitness correctly, in the formative years between 8 and 16, can be just as important as any natural talent you were born with.
  • Cycling with better riders will eventually make you a better rider.
  • Focus on being the best you can be, take each ride as it comes, ride your bike regularly and see what happens from there.
  • You will never achieve lasting success unless you enjoy what you do – it has to be fun!

At present, access to our usual training facility at The Mountbatten Centre in Portsmouth has been suspended whilst British Cycling and other parties consider possible upgrades to the facility. Finding a temporary venue proved a challenge but one of our coaches, Stephen Saunders, approached Langstone Technology Park near Havant, and they have been very supportive in allowing us to use a 200m oval that is ideal for skills practice.

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Group riding at a Friday evening session

We currently organise two sessions on Fridays:-

  • 6-7pm, typically for 8-12 year olds. Skills exercises have names such as such as “Shake a Mate”, “Speed Limbo”, “Dog Leg Drill” and the emphasis is on learning skills whilst having fun.
  • 7-8pm, typically for 12-16 year olds. There is a big focus on close riding at speed in corners, as well as plenty of practice on the basics such as clipping in and braking.

Like all clubs, we could not do what we do without a core group of dedicated parents, helpers and coaches who volunteer their time to make things happen. We now have seven British Cycling qualified coaches to Levels 1, 2 or 3 with others waiting in the wings to start their training. In 2014 we celebrated achieving Sport England Club Mark status with a presentation evening to mark an important milestone in the club’s history.

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Awards night!

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National Junior Sprint Champion Joe Truman presenting a prize to one of his youngest team mates 🙂

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Club focus: i-Team

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