Mid-Devon Cycling Club defies coronavirus with Torbay Velopark improvements

Mid Devon Cycling Club at Torbay Velopark

Mid Devon Cycling Club at Torbay Velopark - Credit: Archant

The Mid-Devon Cycling Club is defying the virus-enforced postponement of its money-spinning Dartmoor Classic marathon to launch a new youth 'academy' and improvements at Paignton's Torbay Velopark.

The moves could help the club, which already has nearly 700 members and a reputation for developing top-class talent over many years, to become one of the most powerful in the south of England.

New young members are being drawn from across the South West by the coaching, facilities and financial help available from the Mid-Devon.

This year's 14th edition of the 'Classic' has had to be put back by 12 months because of the Coronavirus shutdown, although more than 3,000 riders had already signed up and their entries are being carried forward to next year. The Mid-Devon is particularly keen to encourage more female riders.

Long-serving committee man and veteran racer Andrew Parker, who is also British Cycling's South West events officer, said: 'The idea of creating a Youth Pathway is in the mix, and the support for it is there on the committee. There is still work to be done, and we have got to demonstrate that all our structures are in place before we throw money at it.

'As the club develops and evolves right across the membership, which we must also do, my fear has been that we might run a danger of leaving bike racing behind. We might scoop up one or two riders from other clubs, and they are welcome, but the main objective is to develop our own riders.

'We have tried to do this sort of thing in the past, but the difference this time is that we have a few more people who are prepared to get involved in coaching and looking after the younger riders.

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'One area in particular which has big potential is in female racing. There are not that many girls or ladies racing at the moment, so there is a big chance for them to get involved, learn the sport and progress quite quickly.'

The Mid-Devon is also in talks with British Cycling and Parkwood Leisure, who run Clennon Valley's Torbay Leisure Centre, over financing to improve facilities at the Velopark. Riders from all over the South West attend race meetings there and, among other things, the club wants to create a new changing room and shower unit.