Maarten Tjallingii recently completed his first season in the Academy’s Performance staff as he joined the team in late 2018. The former Dutch pro-rider has been coaching our talents not only performance-wise, but also in the mental side of the sport. Looking back to what 2019 has entailed, Tjallingii feels satisfied with the accomplishments but is already looking forward to keeping up the good work with the riders and welcoming the new generation of talents. 

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– How do you look back to your first season with the Academy? Were your expectations fulfilled?
The past season was an absolute blast. Coaching individuals is what I’ve been doing ever since I retired from the pro peloton, and with SEG Racing Academy I got the chance to coach a team. Next to this, I got to see the work the staff puts in from the other side. It was really eye-opening for me to see in first-hand everything that goes on behind the scenes. What hit me the most about coaching these young talents was the impact that feedback can have on them, and how they quickly assimilate that in order to become a better rider. The example perfectly sums up the season was to see one rider dropped in the first 20 km of a one-day race, lacking the motivation to ride, and after some intensive mental work in the following weeks, he went on to win a stage in one of the biggest U23 race with a very big smile on his face. That’s the biggest reward, if you trust the results will come.

– What were the highest and lowest points of the season?
My highest point from a coaching perspective is to see the work we all put into the rider’s development and that actually turns into serious improvement and later results. To see the difference in riding from the training camp in Loutraki, where everyone was still getting used to racing with one another, and in the last races of the season where they were all fighting like lions as a team, would be what I’m the proudest of. The lowest point has to be crashing, it’s never nice to crash as a rider and even worse to see it as a Sports Director, but that also led to some strong and positive mental coaching sessions.

– What are the points to improve from next season onwards?
I want to have more feedback moments with the riders, check their progress and chat with them more frequently. In the end, that’s the most powerful data tool and your race results will become a reflection of that. Planning a race takes more than just having a look at the map and knowing the roads. The team can become better and stronger when they own the race plan. Analyzing the race is one thing, but for me, the plan-making process is something the riders can do more themselves when they are involved and committed. At the end of the day, they are the ones making the calls on the road. And from a coaching perspective, I want to focus even more on the rider’s personal development, not only in the races but above all away from them. Getting the right balance in their life will make them more successful persons, and hence bike riders. A smile on the face of a rider is always a good sign, so in 2020 I’d like to see even more smiles on the faces of the riders.