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There are gaps to fill in the enviable GVC production line

Sport | Published:

THE Guernsey Velo Club only recently celebrated their 50th birthday – but it is time to look to the future.

Leading by example: Guernsey Velo Club president Mark Smith taking part in the winter mountain bike series. He wants to ‘break the perception that the Velo Club is elitist’ and encourage more people to take part in 2019. (Picture by Andrew Le Poidevin, 23079173)

It is currently a bright one, according to GVC president Mark Smith, although the cyclists-versus-motorists debate continues to rage and a few gaps in depth undermine an otherwise positive outlook for the club.

Smith has much to reflect on from a successful 2018.

‘It was the 50th anniversary of the club, so we wanted to have a big year in terms of really making sure that the heritage and history of the club are celebrated,’ he said.

‘We had the first-ever CI race series, which was an interesting concept and worked really well racing other teams ... it gave us the opportunity to go to Jersey to do some proper team racing and Jersey to come over here and do some proper team racing.

‘We also had the open 10-mile time-trial series, which again was phenomenally successful – it was open to non-club members so we picked up quite a few of the triathletes and a couple of new ladies started racing as well.’

All being well, both series will blossom even more with their continuation this year.

But Gibraltar 2019 is the mainstream focus and Smith faces one of the best dilemmas possible.

James Roe, Sam Culverwell and Mike Serafin already have pre-selection, but the remaining strength-in-depth is such that it may not be until April that it becomes clear which two other men will join them in the reduced team rota.

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Among the women, a newly vacant fifth spot creates a similar battle – although Smith argues that more can be done to advance the club ladies’ depth.

‘Ideally, we’d have separate ladies’ races and have them racing against each other competitively rather than just slotting into the men’s races,’ said Smith.

‘It’s about breaking the perception that the Velo Club’s elitist ... we’re not just a bunch of macho guys who are really aggressive when we’re racing.

‘It’s not something to be scared of – I think a lot of people see everybody in all their aero gear and on their expensive bike and they feel as though they can’t just turn up and race, when that’s what we really want people to do.

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‘We’ve got a few new riders who have started racing in the mountain bike series so it’s [about] nurturing them, getting them used to the racing environment and seeing if they want to take it further.’

Smith’s other key goal in the short term is improving the academy ranks, with a few glaring gaps present among the club’s elite post-11s. He has a head-start here at least, with 10 prospective academy coaches currently following British Cycling level one training.

  • More in Wednesday's Guernsey Press.

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