Eight years ago, we acknowledged that there was a lack of investment in the development of U23 riders in international cycling. We identified that an independent institute that provided the needed tools to talents in order to develop themselves in a safe and clean environment, was missing in the sport. To change that, we decided to take control and created our U23 development blueprint, ‘The Movement’, based on the right ideals for up-and-coming talented riders.
This resulted in the inception of the SEG Racing Academy seven years ago. With an incredible staff of young talented people and the support of SEG, we were able to start a unique project that placed us in the center of talent development for professional cycling. As the SEG Racing Academy, we educated talented riders and staff by giving them the opportunity to develop, learn, make mistakes, and progress as individuals.
From the first season, our approach proved to be successful. All stakeholders in professional cycling have been open to cooperating with us and appreciated our way of developing cyclists. We have won many races, but our real victories are the people that we have helped to develop. In seven seasons, a total of 26 riders made the transition to the professional ranks. SEG Racing Academy Alumni riders are now part of the top of professional cycling and members of the best teams in the world. We can name many, but riders like Fabio Jakobsen, Cees Bol, Edoardo Affini, Koen Bouwman, Nick Schultz, Ide Schelling, Kaden Groves are great examples. However, our talent development philosophy was also noted by those professional teams who wanted to strengthen and professionalize their staff. For example, Peter Schep is currently the Head of Performance at EF-Education- Nippo, Vasilis Anastopoulos successfully moved up to be a trainer at Deceuninck-Quickstep and Aike Visbeek is transforming Intermaché- Wanty –Gobert Matériaux to a modern World Tour Team.
In recent years more and more World Tour teams have created their own development projects. We have seen the level of the development scene going up, not only in training, facilities, and structures but also in the number of chances for young riders to turn pro at a professional cycling team. It is worth investing in talent nowadays. The current World Tour teams’ development programs are matching our standards when it comes to development. We are proud to see that growth, and it allows us to think about the next step for the Racing Academy. We have made our footprint in the U23 ranks and we feel that our presence is less urgent than what it was back in 2015. Now, we feel the need to contribute to other areas of our beloved sport.
SEG Racing Academy will continue to invest in the education of talented riders, but our focus will shift to another category, meaning that we will not continue as UCI Continental team in 2022. Whether our new contribution will be in the junior ranks, the women category, or the development of talents in any other cycling discipline is yet to be decided as we continue to research that with the help of our partners.
We will remain as a development institute but with another focus for the coming years.
See you soon on the road,
Martijn & Eelco Berkhout