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Fast-Tracking Talent: Recap of Search for Speed's Opening 8-Day Talent Integration Camp

By: Doug Martin  September 19, 2023

Search for Speed’s (“SFS”) opening 8-day Talent Integration (“TI”) Camp (Sep 2-9, 2023) concluded last week in Southern California. The opening SFS TI camp, the first of three this year, was led by US National Sprint Team Coach, Erin Hartwell, along with his team of resident USA Cycling track coaches and mechanics: BJ Olson and Rex Ainsle, and sports scientist Antonio Squillante. Among the attending athletes were the 12 individuals previously identified from a pool of over 2000 who participated in USA Cycling’s Search for Speed program, which ran from early February through late June. The purpose of the camp was to transition from talent identification to talent integration in the SFS process.

Over eight days, athletes were introduced to all aspects of track cycling, with a specific focus on track sprint cycling. This included an overview of the sport itself, how track sprint fits into the larger sport of cycling and track equation and culture, the methods used in building track sprint athleticism and the potential for success, and much more. The majority of the camp took place at the VELO Sports Center in Carson, CA with gym sessions taking place at SoCal Weightlifting in Costa Mesa, CA.

Track work began on the very first day, with athletes all fitted in USA-branded Coure clothing, POC helmets, and riding LOOK track bikes. Because of the relatively wide range of cycling experience, the curriculum did not assume anything and took the group through the basics at each step. All athletes moved quickly from rollers to the velodrome with everybody effectively track-certified by the end of day one. Throughout the first day and over the course of the camp, the emphasis was continually on process and understanding.

Over the next seven days the camp rapidly ramped up, toggling between the VELO Sports Center and SoCal Weightlifting – both homes to the USA Sprint Team – as well as sessions spent on nutrition, kinesiology, anti-doping, sports science, basic mechanics, and more. Track time remained at the heart of the camp with on-bike sessions devoted to rolling and standing starts, start gate, learning flying wind-ups, drop-ins, push-offs, rider queues protocols, and other track and sprint technique basics. The final day served as a culmination of all the newly learned behaviors and techniques, presenting an actual race day schedule designed to simulate the challenges athletes might encounter in any track race at any level.

The camp concluded with comprehensive group and individual assessments, after which each athlete received an individual coaching outline designed to cover the time leading up to their second TI camp, October 21-28, 2023.

In conjunction with this first wave of talent integration camps, Search for Speed’s talent identification process will continue throughout the fall and winter. Open SFS tryouts and pop-ups in the SoCal basin and in select US locations continue to be added to our online calendar. For an updated list go to: searchforspeed.com

For more information about Search for Speed and/or USA Cycling’s athlete development pathway program, contact Alec Pasqualina at apasqualina@usacycling.org.