We are welcoming a new batch of journal contributors in 2022. Six of our eight contributors have so far been unveiled: Ollie Hucks, Flora Perkins, Nathan Hardy, Abbie Manley, Alice Lethbridge and Colin Sturgess. Our seventh is Loughborough Performance Coaching coach Phill Maddocks…
Last season we witnessed a number of young talents breaking through on the domestic scene, the vanguard of the new post-pandemic generation.
On the men’s side, for example, there was Josh Whitehead’s surprise win at the Lancaster Grand Prix, Finn Crockett and Isaac Peatfield finishing third and fourth respectively in the National Road Series, and Toby Barnes ripping it up in the Tour Series and National Road Series alike.
Outside of the National Governing Body academies, we don’t believe there is another training group in the country doing anything similar with this age group of riders
As the coach to both Peatfield and Barnes, Phill Maddocks was an integral piece of the jigsaw to some of last season’s breakthroughs.
Based at Loughborough Performance Coaching, Maddocks has also been instrumental in setting up the pioneering Talent Development Academy, which supports and guides talented junior and under-23 riders looking to make it to the professional ranks, at no cost to the riders selected. Barnes and Peatfield are among the Academy’s riders this season.
We are delighted to have Phill on board as a journal contributor, the first time we have had a journal contributor with a dedicated coaching perspective. Before he begins his journal account, we spoke to Phill about how he became a coach, the Talent Development Academy, and his hopes for the season ahead…
Tell us about the moment you became hooked on cycling…
With the passion I now hold for the sport, my introduction to cycling is perhaps an odd one. I grew up as an athlete from a young age, competing at a national level in both cross country and road running events, so have always been involved in endurance sport, however it wasn’t until the age of around fifteen that cycling became of interest to me.
I was first ‘tricked’ into riding a road bike by one of my close friends who presented me with a vintage 1970s road bike
I was first ‘tricked’ into riding a road bike by one of my close friends who presented me with a vintage 1970s road bike, weighing in at over 10kg and shifters still on the downtube; it wasn’t like what I’d seen on TV at the Tour de France at the time! The only way for me to get home that day was to tentatively get on it and pedal.
Five rides later and I’d competed in my first time trial, ridden my first century and most unsurprisingly of all, had my first major bonk, needing to be pushed 20 miles home! From there, that was it – I was in love with the sport, riding my bike, racing my bike and watching bike races. This was my new sport and hobby all at once.
How and why did you become a performance cycling coach?
I look back now and realise I was nurtured towards being a performance endurance coach from a young age. My father is what you may call a performance running coach, having coached multiple national champions and international athletes, mainly at youth and junior level. This meant I was not only surrounded by elite athletes from a young age, but I’ve also been taught coaching principles and theory that are all easily transferred across different endurance sports. After attending some GB Senior Academy training camps in 2019, I really started to understand what I wanted to do and how I wanted to do it, and now here we are.
I began my coaching career by supporting a number of friends, which I believe is the case for a lot of coaches. This then cascades from friends, to acquaintances, as other riders begin to notice the improvements and results of those you work with. After time you have riders approach you asking for guidance and in some cases full-time coaching. I was also lucky enough to be a student at Loughborough University, a university that attracts many talented sports people, including cyclists, giving me exposure to such riders as Toby Barnes and Isaac Peatfield, who I met as they came to study at the University.
What does a typical week as a coach involve?
This certainly varies throughout the season, with certain times of the year requiring more planning time than others, such as when goal setting and working together with the athlete on an annual plan. Typically, weekends may well be spent discussing with a rider the previous week’s training in detail (‘How did sessions go? How much fatigue are you feeling? Did you enjoy the training this week?’), before finalising the plans for the following week, keeping in mind a rider’s individual availability to train.
The most important thing is being readily available for communication with an athlete when they need it, be that to discuss their training, or more often than you probably realise, other areas of their life
Through the week I’ll be analysing rider’s sessions, ensuring they are riding at their target powers, analysing heart rate data to monitor tiredness and providing daily feedback. It’s important for me though that the athletes largely understand this themselves too; they should understand what fluctuations in their heart rate data may actually mean for example and be able to modify accordingly – you can’t be with them on every ride. However, for me the most important thing is being readily available for communication with an athlete when they need it, be that to discuss their training, or more often than you probably realise, other areas of their life.
You’ve helped create a unique set-up, the Talent Development Academy. Can you explain what it is, and what the purpose of the Academy is?
Inspired by arguably the most successful Academy in the world, the GB Senior Academy, the purpose of our Loughborough Performance Coaching Talent Development Academy is to provide the best training environment, resources and opportunities to some of the most talented junior and under-23 riders in the Midlands, and ultimately the country. But what does that actually mean? Well, like all other coaches we provide a daily training programme to all our athletes, create goals together and plan and review races. But what really sets us apart are three unique additions.
Firstly, with all the riders sharing two common coaches and living locally, we can align training schedules so riders are often training together, either in a large group or smaller groups. Having full time training partners like this not only pushes riders further, but keeps it enjoyable, a vital part to any young riders success.
Secondly, we have both monthly weekend training camps and workshops. These are all to work on skills, techniques and tactics that can be used in racing. These things are often forgotten despite their vital importance to success.
We truly believe that money should not be a barrier to any talented individual’s success, in a sport that is already reliant on high spend with equipment and race costs
Lastly, and what really makes our set-up unique, is that no rider pays a penny to be on the Academy. We truly believe that money should not be a barrier to any talented individual’s success, in a sport that is already reliant on high spend with equipment and race costs. Outside of the National Governing Body academies, we don’t believe there is another training group in the country doing anything similar with this age group of riders.
Tell us about some of the riders that will be on the Academy in 2022
Well, we’ve kept all of our 2021 riders, which is a good sign that we’re doing something right, with the addition of a few more very talented riders. One of our riders to note for 2022 is Toby Barnes, stepping up to Continental level this year with Wiv SunGod. Toby is a regular rider for GB in cyclocross, with results such as 13th and 21st in the under-23 European and World Championships respectively, but also showing himself as a talented road rider in 2021 with his second place finish at the Ryedale Grand Prix, only losing out in a photo finish to Alex Peters.
Isaac Peatfield is another rider to stay in 2022, and another stand-out under-23 in 2021, with two top ten finishes at Lancaster and Ryedale, along with multiple National B podiums throughout the year. He has one of the best work ethics and racing brains I’ve come across in a rider and he hopes to put all that into some big race results this summer. Isaac will be racing on the continent this year, but will only make the full move once he has finished with his university course in June, so we can still expect to see him in the first half of the year on domestic podiums.
Quality in depth is one thing that makes our training group so strong, and we can name such riders as the new Welsh road race champion, Marinus Petersen, former Junior UCI road race winner Alex Haines and our newest addition to the squad, Ben Bright, who is currently on the shortlist to represent Wales in MTB at the 2022 Commonwealth Games. [You can view the full roster here.]
How will being on the Academy dovetail with the riders’ teams?
In short – seamlessly. With no sponsors ourselves or ambitions of creating our own team, there are no conflicts, so we hope teams will welcome the added skillset and professionalism we expect from all our Academy riders. Furthermore, we hope we can work closely with team managers, developing relationships that enable team managers to trust our processes, work together on the rider’s annual plan and race programme, which will benefit both rider and team alike.
What would a successful year look like for the Academy?
At this age and level of development, I often feel that progressing to the next step is what matters for each individual rider, and so that is what makes a successful season; the results are a necessary part of that progress. Be that an Elite Development Team rider progressing onto a Continental or European-based team, or a Continental level rider progressing to Pro Conti level, etc.
If we can help our riders to achieve this next step in their development then it has been a successful year
For me, if we can help our riders to achieve this next step in their development then it has been a successful year. As mentioned, results are obviously a large part of this and for sure we’d like to have more podiums in National Road Series events, some strong UCI results and even more international representation. But another important marker of success for myself is that teams, both domestically and abroad, will know that any rider from our Academy will not only be physically strong, technically and tactically astute, but will also display an exemplary attitude, showing respect to both staff and teammates alike. Whether it takes one year or five years to attain this level of trust from teams is yet to be seen.
And finally, you must be accustomed to helping riders to set their own goals. Do you have your own for this year from a sporting or coaching perspective?
Good question! It’s often easy to forget yourself when you concentrate much of your efforts on others’ goals. Aside from buying an indoor rowing machine to keep myself fit and give myself an outlet from cycling, I hope to keep learning from those with more experience than I have, be that GB coaches in road and cross or Continental-level team managers, and push myself to create new opportunities. As a coach, there is always room to develop, no matter what you’ve achieved.
In my personal life I still have a full-time occupation as an Automotive Design Engineer, and although I plan on one day coaching full-time, I still strive to work hard in my day job and push forward with this also.
Find out more
Follow Phill on Twitter.
Follow Phill on Instagram.