British Cycling have announced significant changes to their youth competition programme ©British Cycling

British Cycling have approved significant changes to their youth competition programme from 2016, following an in-depth multi-disciplinary review, as they attempt to meet the growing numbers of young people seeking to take part in the sport.

As part of the review, which took place over the summer of 2014, key stakeholders including the board of British Cycling, regional boards, officials, coaches, riders and parents were consulted with common themes identified

As a result of the review the new changes have focused delivering three key principles that youth cycling should be fun, should be accessible and should be easy to understand, as British Cycling aim to develop a passion in young riders whilst developing key skills at an affordable price.

“At British Cycling, we recognise the huge importance of providing opportunities for young people to engage in cycling in a way which gives them the best possible experience of our sport,” said Bob Howden, British Cycling President.

“Across Britain, we want children and their parents to make a positive decision to choose cycling because it is fun and accessible, and also develops skills and passion for a sport which will help keep them active and healthy all their lives.

“What we are announcing today are the key changes as approved by the board of British Cycling, further details will be communicated to parents and riders in due course.”

While it was recognised as part of the review that the competition programme has proved useful for talent identification for the Great Britain cycling team, it was outlined that the focus for younger riders should be on enjoyment, with talent identification predominately aimed at riders aged 13 and older.

2011 world road race champion Mark Cavendish was identified as a talent at a young age, but British Cycling are aiming to focus on enjoyment
The 2011 world road race champion Mark Cavendish was identified as a talent at a young age, but British Cycling are aiming to focus on enjoyment ©Getty Images

As a consequence it was decided to only allow international representation and national records, championship and series categories for riders over the age of 13 across all cycling disciplines, while prizes for riders under that age set to be in the form of trophies or medals, with the prizes to be equal for boys and girls.

An improved calendar to reduce the impact around exam periods was also approved across all disciplines, while education for riders and parents will undergo further development to help enable them to understand the pathway through the sport and various disciplines.

In addition several alterations were made the road discipline with equipment regulations updated to reduce the cost, while points and dispensation thresholds are to be changed in an effort to become more meaningful and reduce points chasing.

BMX is another discipline set to undergo changes at youth level with the BMX World Championships and all other international events only due to be open to riders aged 13 and over from 2017, while BMX National Series categories will be for riders aged 9 or older in 2016, moving to 13 or older in 2017.

Changes are still being considered in other cycle sport disciplines, while the approved alterations will be implemented via a phased approach, with the impact set to be reviewed throughout 2016 and further changes considered and introduced in 2017 to 2018.

British Cycling are welcoming feedback on the changes and are inviting people to send their thoughts to [email protected]

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