In a collaboration between cycling teams, cycling brands and educators, Parcours Institute has created a curriculum designed to prepare athletes or aspiring staff for all the requirements of being part of a professional team.
Parcours Institute adds that the curriculum is recognized and endorsed by top North American professional teams.
“Young athletes in North America have a broad range of options for training their physiology, but to this day there has been no centralized training program for all the demands of the pro circuit,” said Zach Bell, Parcours’ Directing Manager.
“These demands include media and sponsorship relations, nutritional challenges, and navigating the complex frameworks surrounding anti-doping policies, among other challenges. Athletes have had to learn these skills over time and only after they are accepted into professional teams – and that is just not necessary.”
Bell continued, “Many of these skills can be taught, quickly and efficiently, before the athletes enter the professional ranks. Our certification does just that, while at the same time, giving our alumni an extra credential recognized by some of North America’s best teams, a credential that will help put them a cut above the competition fighting for coveted professional team spots.”
Zach Bell is a two-time Canadian Olympian and long-time North American professional cyclist who won multiple races in North America throughout his career, including the Canadian Road Championships in 2013. He is excited to be providing young athletes with a clear path to the pros.
“Our goal is to raise the professionalism of cycling in North America from the bottom up. By producing a more professional and prepared young athlete, we will enable teams to focus less energy on developing athletes and more energy on delivering their product to sponsors.”
The rationale for Parcours is that the ‘product’ is a fast group of professionals that know how to represent their brand and leverage the coverage of their success.
Some of North America’s most influential teams have also put their weight behind the concept.
“Most elite cyclists learn about anti-doping, nutrition, team dynamics, the business of cycling and even training by grabbing chunks of information from a variety of sources over time,” said Scott McFarlane, Team Owner of Silber Pro Cycling, a team that has demonstrated an aptitude for creating a positive developmental environment.
He continued, “Parcours synthesizes the legal, physiological, social and economic realities of being a professional athlete into an invaluable intensive educational program. Silber Pro Cycling welcomes the arrival of Parcours onto the cycling scene because we want to work with awesome athletes who are informed ambassadors for this incredible sport.”
The Holowesko Citadel p/b Hincapie squad also sees the Parcours program helping the team maintain a steady stream of quality young athletes as it grows.
“We are excited to participate in an organization that will teach potential riders some of the finer points of cycling,” said Thomas Craven, Sports Director of the Holowesko Citadel p/b Hincapie team. “It’s not always about max watts and race wins.”
This is an observation that has been echoed by a number of teams in the search for a well-rounded athlete. “The riders coming out of Parcours will have a distinct professional advantage over their competition.”
Silber Pro Cycling and Holowesko Citadel, along with Axeon, H&R Block Pro Cycling, and Circuit Sport (the parent company of both the Mens and Womens Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies teams) have all contributed and endorsed the program’s curriculum.
A release from Parcours adds that this is core of teams have demonstrated an ability to create great professionals over time, and the ‘support is a huge vote of confidence in the Parcours program from the teams who are leading the way in athlete development.’
“The involvement of the teams has been crucial, and I can’t thank these industry leaders enough,” said Zach Bell at Parcours. “They are the ones who recognized something was needed in the development and recruitment of athletes. Cycling is a professional sport, requiring both professional and conventional training to get ready for its requirements.
“The sponsors are all professionals in their respective industries, and they want to associate with other professionals. It shouldn’t be the only way to the pros, but athletes who have questions about the path can choose Parcours Cycling as a place to find answers.”
In conjunction with the athlete program, Parcours will also offer staff training programs for interested mechanics and massage certified practitioners. These courses will involve live athlete exercises and culminate with live race internship placements on professional teams. This will give graduates a direct connection to the industry.
In the first year of operations, all programming will be offered in a spring intensive training course and space will be limited. Athletes are encouraged to apply early. Early bird application pricing will apply until 23 December 2015.