Saint Lucia’s young riders are proceeding apace at the World Cycling Centre (WCC) in Aigle, Switzerland, as they prepare for the World Junior Track Cycling Championships taking place from August 15-19.
Kluivert Mitchel, the Saint Lucia Junior Cyclist of the Year, and Jessie Mentor, both 18 years old this year, are used to hitting the road here on island, but they are getting their first exposure to track training.
Many in the local cycling fraternity have posited for some time now that the future of domestic cycling has to be on the track, and there have been repeated calls for a velodrome to be constructed.
The rationale is that track cycling is far safer, more controlled, and that sprinting is likely to help attract and retain young riders to the sport, wherein numbers are presently small, compared to other more established sports.
Mentor was spotted at the WCC Talent Camp held in Argentina last year, and an invitation was sent to the Saint Lucia Cycling Association to have the two youngsters attend the WCC.
Both riders are following a weekly program set by coaches Craig McClean (GBR) and Walter Perez (ARG). Both these coaches have multiple Track World and Olympic titles between them.
The sessions are a mix of: specific track techniques and sprint / endurance work, road cycling for endurance and recovery, gym sessions for strength and injury prevention, Wattbike sessions for testing and other training, physiotherapy and medical tests, and (of course) racing.
All materials and equipment have been provided to the riders to use during their stay at the WCC. As both riders are extremely tall, custom-build frames were ordered to help them be more comfortable for training.
According to a release from the WCC Press Office, “Both young athletes are adapting well to the change of environment and mixing well with the other 15 juniors in training at the centre.”
Whilst there is no expectation for them to medal at the very competitive World Junior Championships, it is expected that the two Saint Lucians “will be at home on the track and feel that they can give their best during racing. We anticipate their level to be much improved by mid-August after following such an intensive program.”