Cycling, in both its track and road forms, is one of the most physiologically demanding of sports. Cyclists need endurance, technique, speed, explosive power and exceptional aerobic fitness.
In recent years, cycling has benefited from the scientific research carried out on cyclists’ conditioning, and on the scientific work that has gone into producing faster, lighter and better bicycles. The Australian Institute of Sport and our road and track cycling programs have been at the forefront of much of this research.
About the program
The AIS Cycling program operates both track and road cycling programs for male and female athletes.
With the AIS Road Cycling program spending the majority of the year in Europe, in 1997 the AIS established a cycling base in Tuscany, Italy. In 2000, this base was moved to Reggio, Emilia, where the Men’s Road Cycling program was joined by the Women’s Road Cycling program. In 2006, both programs moved to the Italian province of Varese, which will become the home of the new AIS European Training Centre.
In 2001, the administration of the AIS Road Cycling program relocated from Canberra to the Del Monte facility on Henley Beach in Adelaide to join the AIS Track Cycling program, and then in 2004 moved to the Adelaide Super-Drome.
AIS Track Cycling
The AIS Track Cycling program began in 1987 in Adelaide with only two male scholarship holders under the direction of Charlie Walsh. In 1989, the first female scholarship holder was recruited as the program expanded to cater for both track sprint and track endurance riders.
The sprinters in the program live in Adelaide, while the endurance riders live, train and race in their home states or overseas, and attend camps prior to key events.
AIS Road Cycling
Born from the AIS Track Cycling program base in Adelaide, the AIS Men’s Road Cycling program began in 1990 in Canberra (along with the now expired AIS Mountain Bike program), with Heiko Salzwedel appointed as the head coach. The AIS Women’s Road Cycling program commenced in 1992 and joined the men’s program in Canberra.
In 1997, following success with various trade teams, the Men’s Road Cycling program turned its focus to the development of under-23 riders, due to the introduction of an under-23 men’s category at the Road World Championships and a focus on Australians securing professional trade team contracts.
In 2006, the Men’s Road Cycling program was redirected again into a professional team racing in the continental events of Europe, Japan, North America and Australia. ‘Team AIS’ features riders from road, track endurance and mountain bike backgrounds.
The Men’s and Women’s Road Cycling programs are camps-based programs. When in Australia, the athletes live in their home states and come together for camps at selected times. Both groups live at the AIS Cycling base in Italy from March to October each year.
About the sport
Track cycling is raced on tracks called velodromes. These can be indoor or outdoor and are usually 250–500 metres in diameter. Track bikes are fixed-gear bikes without brakes. In sprint events athletes generally use large gears, which take enormous amounts of power to get going. With fixed gears, cyclists are forced to continue to pedal, even when slowing down. Speeds of 40 to 60 kilometres an hour are common in endurance events.
Road cycling involves both team and individual events. Races may be held over a number of days (stages) or as single days. Other events include time trials (both team and individual) and criteriums (races of varying numbers of laps around a circuit of roads). Races vary in distance from a few kilometres for some criteriums, to individual stages of 250 kilometres or more. Road cycling primarily requires strength and endurance, although anaerobic capacity may be called on in breakaways, hill climbing and all-out sprints to the line.
Cycling Australia/AIS high performance programs
The AIS Cycling base in Adelaide is also the home of the Cycling Australia high performance department, which include the national teams for the track, road, mountain bike, BMX, Para-cycling and junior disciplines.