Culverwell believes it’s ‘now or never

THE lofty ambitions of Sam Culverwell go far beyond the Island Games this year.

The youngster will keep one eye on Gibraltar 2019 through the early summer months, but the season as a whole will be devoted to building up a dazzling racing CV and hopefully grabbing the attention of a professional team.

As the season progresses, the final-year Elizabeth College sixth-former hopes to increase his profile by earning entry – and the results to match – in some of the UK’s most competitive road races.

‘Once I’ve done my A-levels and I’ve done the Games, I’m going to race as much as possible,’ said Culverwell.

‘It’s all about trying to get noticed by a pro team so they take you on and you can hopefully get a contract.

‘Even if I don’t get a Continental-level pro team, I could go onto a slightly smaller team in the UK, where I can then race pro-amateur races across Europe.

‘I’m trying to make a career out of it if possible, which is why I’m taking a gap year before university – to see if I can make it professionally.’

But it’s a long road ahead and the Guernseyman is currently making a bit of a name for himself at National B level.

He will represent Team Estera alongside James Roe at tomorrow’s Coalville Wheelers Road Race, where a full Vitus Pro team stands out among a wealth of professional opposition.

Olympic champion track cyclist Ed Clancy is the headline rider, although former World Tour man Scott Thwaites also features in Vitus’ impressive roster.

Not that this kind of competition is anything too unfamiliar for the youngster.

Culverwell has already competed among the pro outfits twice this season, taking sixth at the Perfs Pedal season opener and third at Severn Bridge, and is hopeful of another great result.

‘This one’s looking much the same and I imagine it will be a very intense race all the way through,’ he said.

‘It will be very tough, but hopefully it will go well for us.’

When Culverwell decides to race on local roads, he’s virtually unstoppable.

Roe and Co. have given him some company but he always has an extra gear when it is required.

Having won one time trial and both road races so far this year, he is vocal about the training benefits of local events.

‘You never go as hard in training as you can in a race when you’ve got a number on your back,’ said Culverwell.

‘It’s great to have planned it so that when I’m not racing in the UK, there’s road races on over here that I can do, and I can use these for training.

‘You develop your race-craft and just push yourself to make you stronger for when you race in the UK.’

The shift from winter mountain biking back onto road racing has, of course, featured significant alterations in training.

‘I was doing over winter a lot of base miles, a lot of longer efforts and I’ve now transitioned into some shorter, more lactate-based sessions to try and increase my lactate threshold,’ said Culverwell.

‘I do a hard turbo focusing on that on a Tuesday and I still have some long 10-minute efforts, because it’s still fairly early-season, on a Thursday – but that may change soon.

‘My rides on the weekend are building in intensity and my general rides I’m riding my endurance pace for, I’m upping that to the top end of my endurance zone to make it a bit harder.’

Culverwell also anticipates some time off racing next month to visit Majorca for his first-ever training camp.

‘It will hopefully be nice warm weather, which will help prepare for Gibraltar in the summer, and it will be nice to get a change of scenery,’ he added regarding the expedition with coach Adey Dent and Legro’s Training Camp.

‘They’ve got some epic climbs over in Majorca, so it should make for some great training out there.’

Following some downtime for exams, he hopes to contest the National U23 Road Champs a week prior to Gibraltar.

The National B fixtures will continue for the next few months, but the post-Games period is when he hopes to hit full flow and earn a few National A places.

‘I’m happy with how I’ve started this season, especially as those races were so early,’ said Culverwell.

‘Hopefully because I’ve done quite well in esteemed company, I’ll be able to get a bit of a wild card entry as a sole rider into those National As.’

Not one to miss the wider picture, star student Culverwell has considered a top-flight sports university as back-up, but he’s determined to make the cycling dream come true.

‘It’s likely it may not work out, but I will always regret it if I don’t try it,’ he added.

‘It’s now or never really – it’s not something you can really come back to in 10 years.’

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