Crans-Montana, 2 June 2023. Up-and-coming young cyclists are the focus of the CM MTB UCI Valais 2025 Association’s strategy. Consequently, several projects have been launched this year, alongside the organisation of the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships. By identifying and supporting talented young Valais cyclists, their aim is to contribute to creating a lasting legacy for cycling and mountain biking in Valais.
Organising an international multidisciplinary event like the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships is a unique opportunity to promote the sports of cycling and mountain biking. Supporting the next generation is one of the four objectives of the legacy projects of the 2025 MTB World Championships. The objective is to find talented young cyclists and help them reach a professional level, thus ensuring that there are more participants from Valais in national and international competitions. According to Steve Morabito, President of the CM MTB UCI Valais 2025 Association (Valais 2025) and the Valais Cycling Federation, it is important to seize this opportunity and help advance the sports of mountain biking and road cycling: “Holding such an event in Valais is a dream in itself for our young cycling enthusiasts. We want to take advantage of these World Championships to create enduring structures for Valais. This will enable talented young people to be identified and supported, helping them become the best in their favoured disciplines while pursuing their education or professional training.”
A performance centre for the next generation in Valais: TSP Valais/Wallis.
In collaboration with Swiss Cycling, Talent Romandie and the Cantonal Office of Sport, a performance centre – TSP (training support centre) Valais/Wallis – was endorsed by Swiss Cycling in January 2023. Its main objective is to enable the management and coordination of the next generation for the sport in Valais. In 2023, the objective of the performance centre is to bring together the best young athletes from the various Valais clubs and teams, assist them with their personal advancement and motivate them to improve in their chosen sport. As part of the centre’s development activities, a cycling academy has been created and several training bases will be set up in Valais. The first base is the one in Crans-Montana. In the context of the Swiss Mountain Bike Championships, which take place from 2 to 4 June 2023, a cross-country track will be available and tested during the event. Crans-Montana already boasts an extensive network of 112 km of approved mountain bike trails, and is continuing to expand with a further 67 km of attractive and challenging trails in the process of being approved. This infrastructure will make it possible to organise courses and training camps, thereby welcoming athletes from Valais, clubs from all over Switzerland and organisations from abroad. Bruno Huggler, Director of Crans-Montana Tourism & Congress, had the following to say on the development and importance of these infrastructures: “An attractive infrastructure tailored to the needs of mountain bikers is essential. It forms the basis for promoting mountain biking in Crans-Montana and will make it possible to welcome groups and thus encourage overnight stays. Thanks to the World Championships in 2025, Crans-Montana will become a world-class mountain biking destination.” Other training bases are under development, in particular the Sion site with the Spark project for analysing athlete data, and a base focusing on gravity mountain biking near the Dents du Midi region.
Creating a cycling academy: the Valais 2025 Cycling Academy.
The Valais 2025 Cycling Academy was launched as part of the development activities with the aim of supporting talented young athletes. Fifty young Valais cyclists and mountain bikers were selected to join this organisation, which offers support and mentoring. It is based on the same model as other TSPs in Switzerland. Regional talent scouting days are now organised in Valais to identify young people with potential. The aim is to incorporate competitive young riders aged 13 to 18 (endurance disciplines) or 11 to 18 (BMX and trial) into the organisation set up by the Valais Cycling Federation. Swiss Cycling is pleased that this new performance centre has been established in Valais. As Beat Müller, Head of Performance at Swiss Cycling, says: “Identifying talent is an essential step in encouraging success at the highest level. Enabling this at a regional level with talent scouting days makes it possible to reach more young people. This therefore maximises the chances of discovering the successful performers of tomorrow. In this way, the new performance centre set up in Valais will be able to identify talented young people in the canton and make it easier for them to attain the highest levels of success.”
Olympic cross-country champion Jolanda Neff welcomes these initiatives and highlights how positive these developments are for the future of her sport: “Being able to benefit from professional coaching from an early age is key to an athlete developing their career. The first few years are crucial, and the organisation set up in Valais will allow young athletes from the region to climb the ladder of competitive sport.”
The establishment of a TSP enables professional management and support for young athletes. With the launch of the Valais 2025 Cycling Academy, the Valais Cycling Federation is creating a professional organisation that is ideally placed to support young people in becoming the top performers of tomorrow. Some of them may even find themselves on the starting line for one of the world championships set to take place in Valais in 2025.
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