A new cycling academy has been launched at Writtle University College with Team OnForm.
The partnership – the first of its kind in the UK - will enable WUC Cycling Performance degree students to participate in organised cycling races and events, whilst receiving the support and guidance of industry experts as they continue their educational journey.
Team OnForm, who are located in Essex, are a new Cycle Race Team established to provide opportunities for male and female cyclists, ranging from juniors to elite seniors. Team riders, which include current and former world, national and regional champions, will participate in high-profile national series events across the UK.
Mark Walker, who is the Cycling Performance degree Course Leader at WUC and has coached a number of world class cyclists, said at the launch on Saturday 18 March: “The academy will provide students with the opportunity to either race or work as a member of support staff within a professionally run team. This model, in my view, provides the perfect applied opportunity for students – they can take what they had learnt in the classroom into a high-performance sports setting and bring back those experiences to university and reflect and learn.
“Writtle University College and Team OnForm’s partnership will not only provide our students with an opportunity to race, but, and probably most importantly of all, give them a fully immersive experience working within a team and supporting its riders.
“We want to build a lasting legacy for cyclists within the Eastern region. By building a partnership between Writtle University College and Team On Form we hope to develop a shining example of what a cycling team and academy can be. We hope to set an example of best practice within the sport, drawing upon a wide range of expertise in team management, equipment, sports science, and coaching to build a highly-professional team with a long-term future that will serve cyclists in this region for many years to come.”
Mark also announced a partnership with Oaklands Wolves sports academies, which will be setting up its cycling academy from this September for 16-19 year olds. Writtle University College and Oaklands Wolves cycling academy will be working in close partnership under the title of the East of England Cycling Academy Partnership. This will mean that young people can train race and study in a supportive environment from the age of 16 through to the completion of a degree.
Mark added: “I can’t think of anywhere in the country or world where cyclists have that kind of opportunity.”
Simon Howes, Team Principal for Team OnForm, said: “The partnership between team OnForm and WUC is our way of putting something back into the sport. We will take great pride in having created a pathway for riders to progress and develop as bike racers.
“To see riders achieve there potential will give support staff and sponsors a great deal of satisfaction. It’s a fantastic opportunity for all the riders involved to gain experience racing in a team environment. I have no doubt the riders will make great ambassadors for team OnForm and our partners.”