Before arriving at the World Cycling Centre, Karamoko Bamba had never seen a hill. The art of climbing and the technique of descending are new for this Junior trainee from Abidjan. The same goes for the big pelotons in Europe, which are double in size compared with the forty or so competitors he was used to confronting on the CÃ´te dâIvoire.
The training camp for the Juniors at the WCC began at the end of June with a few lessons in the basics. âWe are here to help young riders progress and show what they are capable of,â explains the coach Jean-Jacques Henry. âAlthough Bamba fell in his first descent, he could well follow in the steps of our Namibian trainee Till Drobisch, who had real difficulties at the beginning but who today descends at a speed that few riders are capable of following!â
In three months, the Junior riders could be transformed and even participate in the UCI Road World Championships, a âdreamâ for most of them, who would like to use this highlight of the calendar to âget a better idea of their level.â
Another true test will come in Bretagne on August 2 and 4 at the UCI Juniors Nationsâ Cup event, TrophÃ©e Centre Morbilhan. But the trainees already had a taste of high level competition last week at the undulating AinâTernational Valromey Tour where they formed a mixed WCC team of pure road riders and pursuit specialists. It was a tough introduction that immediately taught the young athletes how to cope with physical contact, how to climb, how to handle their effort between two summits...
âIt was an amazing organisation, just like for the pros!â exclaimed an enthusiastic GrÃ©gory Lagane (Ile Maurice). âI was very happy to race for the first time in such a structured team, with group tactics and people looking after our needs.â
Andrei Covalciuc is no stranger to the Centre, having already spent three months there in 2012. The coaches noticed that the Moldavian had made the most of this experience and progressed both technically and physically. âOur athletes are at very different levels but each of them has interesting potential,â resumes the groupâs coach, Alejandro Tablas-Gonzalez.
Other Juniors will be arriving in the next few days, including German Nicolas Tivani (Argentina), Cristian Pita (Ecuador) and Than Tung Huynh (Vietnam).
The best of them will be able to return in 2014, depending on the agreements established with their respective National Federations.