#InsideOut: Off season with Development Program coach Sebastian Deckert

So the season is over, is it time to sit back and relax until the 2018 season starts?

There is of course time for rest but after the season is also before the season. Now is the most crucial time of the season as we look ahead to the upcoming year and plan how we will make the next steps in development, this is especially important with the Development Program as this is the core reason the team is in place. Cycling is a way of life and that’s also the case for coaches, it never stops. The development of riders and the team is an ongoing process and the off season is a nice time during the year to focus on continuing the work across all different fields to help our riders take the next step.

How do you plan for the upcoming season?

The preparation begins with an overall performance plan which includes races, tactics and development for the team as a whole. The next step is a performance plan for each rider which is based on our talent development plan. To create this we analyse the strength and weaknesses of each individual’s previous year, compare that to the goals that we had and assess our success. We then take the outcome of this analysis and use it to improve our planning for the upcoming year. There is also some homework for the riders to do during the winter with their basic training and a focus on the things that they can’t focus on during racing season due to limited time.

The closer that we come to the races the more specific the training becomes. We use the performance plan as a base to build up towards the most important races for the team. As well as creating these intricate performance plans, we also spend time planning at team meetings and training camps.

When did planning start? 

Planning for the new season and analysing the current season starts in August. At this moment, we have already looked at each riders power data and are using it to discover space for improvement and to see what aspects of our performance we should continue to build upon and where to make adaptions.

How are performance plans created and who else is involved? 

We are a big team and there are a lot of people involved in the process. Trainers, coaches, performance staff and riders all work together alongside the team’s experts to see where we take the next steps for the upcoming season. Together we work on the performance plan that includes races and overall tactics for the upcoming year. We also create a personal development plan for each rider that includes the next steps to be made in the physical, mental and tactical elements of their performance.

What is the Development Program’s main goal for the upcoming season?

The Development Program’s main goal for the season is of course centred around their progression into the top level of the sport. To provide our riders the best environment to be able to develop we spend time creating a balanced race program. This program includes different race types and levels to make sure that there is an overall development throughout the year across different terrain.

How are these goals planned? Who or what aspects are a part of the decision making process.

The team has a strategy in place for the development of young talents. This plan provides the basis of each individuals performance plan for the year. To work out the best plan tailored to each rider we take into consideration their age, level and experience.

How does your relationship with riders change during the on/off season?

We see riders at races throughout the year where the main focus is on the pure performance and development in races. During the off season we have team meetings and training camps where we have more time for non-cycling related conversations where we can get to know each rider on a more personal level. This time of the year gives us time to focus on the social aspect of cycling as well as the opportunity to reflect on not only the riders but the staff.

Do you attend training camps? If so, what is your role there? 

The Development Program have two team meetings in Sittard and two training camps in Spain. My role here is to plan the schedule for those camps together with my colleagues and then when at the event, to implement the schedules. Training camps also give an opportunity to speak to riders one-on-one about goals and development for the upcoming season.

Sum up your 2017 season in one sentence. 

A promising season with talented riders where we believe the first steps towards a strong future have been made.