Presenter Alex Riley helps rookies Erin and Tom set their wheels spinning through a journey of cycling discovery as they attempt a stage of the Tour de Britain race.
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We push our rookies hard. They see the good...
How cool is this?
..and the downright astonishing.
We give them glamour...
..show them excitement...
..get their hands dirty... SHEEP BLEATS
-..put them under pressure...
..make them laugh.
All so they can experience their dream jobs.
Today, we have two eager rookies in the starting gates, ready to sprint
into the exciting and competitive world of professional cycling.
Let's go...All Over The Workplace!
Professional cycling takes many forms.
From BMX to mountain biking, track cycling to road racing.
I'm "wheelie" excited, as we're about to shift up a gear and pedal
into the super competitive world of professional cycling!
Hi, I'm Erin and I would like to be
a professional cyclist.
My ultimate goals would probably be to win
the World Championships,
win the Tour de France, if they get a women's...
and win the Olympic gold medals.
The triple whammy, really.
My name is Tom. When I'm older,
I want to become a professional cyclist.
The dream for me is to win a gold medal in
the Olympics for road cycling.
The rookies have popped up to Glasgow
to begin moving up the gears.
So, what is it about cycling that you love so much?
Well, I like the adrenaline and just having fun.
What about you, Erin? What do you like about cycling?
Pretty much the same thing. I like the speed and how, like,
fast you can go around the corner and trying to push yourself
-Do you think you've got what it takes to be cyclists?
Well, I think there's space for improvement, but I'm getting there.
If I, like, put in the effort, then, yeah, I think so.
I think the problem for Erin will be the fact they have to -
as I understand it - they have to rest after training.
I think Erin will find that extremely hard.
Tom is super competitive.
Whatever it is that he's doing, whether it's cooking, cleaning,
mowing the lawn, he wants to do it to the absolute best of his ability.
So, Tom, you're really, really competitive -
even when you're mowing the lawn?
Well, I like to do it as fast as possible.
Beat your personal best for mowing the lawn?
-And, Erin, you don't rest.
You're on the go the whole time and you never sit still.
I don't really like sitting still because I feel there's always
something else that I could be doing.
Come on, then, let's go.
First up, we test the rookies' physical ability.
We've brought them to the University of Glasgow where Stuart Gray,
a doctor of sports science, is putting them through their paces.
He starts by giving Tom and Erin a sprint test.
Come on, Tom!
Here, they need to ride as fast as they possibly can for six seconds.
Their peak power output is measured in watts.
Go for it. As fast as you can. Keep it going.
-Go on, you can do it!
-Good effort. Excellent.
Keep it going, keep it going. Relax.
Yeah, she's won! She's won the gold medal.
Next up, Stuart tests the rookies' endurance.
In this test, they have to cycle until they physically can't go any
further. Professional cyclists do tests like this in order to analyse
their performance and identify areas which could be improved.
All very scientific.
Every minute during the test,
the machine will increase how hard it is for you.
The results of this test show the maximum volume of oxygen that
the athlete can use.
It looks like he's really working hard.
-Come on, Tom.
-Keep it going.
-Come on, Tom.
-And we're done.
After cycling for 14 minutes, Tom reaches exhaustion.
And scores in the top 15% of boys in his age group.
-65 watts. Keep driving the legs.
After a humongous effort from Erin,
she tires after almost 17 minutes,
with a reading in the top 10% of girls in her age group.
So, safe in the knowledge that both our rookies are in good physical
shape, it's time to get out of the lab and meet our first mentor.
-Fantastic, you two.
Matt Stephens was a professional road racing cyclist.
A former British road racing champion.
He's also competed in the Olympic and Commonwealth Games.
In his time, he's raced with the best,
including Mark Cavendish and Bradley Wiggins.
Let's hear his top tips.
OK, tip number one, guys, is to have an objective.
Aim for the stars and also have a plan on how to get there, OK?
Tip number two. Now, this is so, so important.
It's to get enough rest
because cycling is such a brutally difficult sport.
That's quite an important one for you, Erin,
you can't sit still, can you? You're just on the go the whole time.
That is important. And tip number three,
make sure that every day you swing your leg over your bikes,
you're having fun.
Matt's top tips are... Have an objective.
You need to have clear goals and work towards those targets.
Get enough rest. This allows your body to maximise
the effects of training. And have fun.
Was it hard to become a professional cyclist?
It was quite hard.
When I was 16, I went to the Tour de France and I thought,
"This is amazing. This is absolutely amazing."
It blew my mind, to be perfectly honest with you.
I was on Alp d'Huez in France, saw Greg LeMond and Bernard Hinault,
my heroes, and I thought at that moment,
"I want to be a professional cyclist."
But, to properly turn professional, it took me 14 years from that point.
So I didn't turn pro properly until I was 30, but I kept on trying and,
finally, I got there. So, yeah, it was worth it in the end.
Rookies, your assignment today is absolutely brilliant.
You're going to ride a section of the 2016 Tour of Britain stage one
with a sprint and a hill climb
that is going to be just under 23 miles long.
How do you feel about that?
Early bikes were nothing like those of today.
Take the two-wheeled, human-powered contraption
invented by German Karl Drais.
A weird-looking thing, which apparently
they called a hobby horse.
The penny-farthing, or high wheeler,
had a humongously big front wheel along with a tiny, tiny rear wheel.
It was a huge success, literally,
and the first invention to actually be called a bicycle.
There are almost a billion bicycles around the world today, which,
incredibly, is more than double the number of cars.
Oi, you! On your bike!
In 2016, the Tour of Britain began in Glasgow
and stage one went from George Square
all the way down to Castle Douglas,
which is a mammoth 100.4 miles.
Today, the rookies are going to experience a section of this race,
which is approximately 23 miles in distance.
Our event is organised in true Tour of Britain style
with police escorts, cameramen on motorbikes
and, of course, race commentary.
Three, two, one...
-Here we go.
The police are stopping the traffic.
It's like we're the Prime Minister or something.
They're just stopping all the traffic from getting away
so that we can race.
In these kind of races, cycling teams use tactics to perform better.
Let's get into formation.
Matt's going to teach the rookies some secrets to help them cycle
more efficiently as a team.
If you go over that side, OK?
If I go this side, because the wind is coming from this direction.
If you stay in there, Tom, in between us both,
you'll get a little bit of shelter from the wind.
Try and do this with your arms.
That's it. Whoa.
We've got a really nice fast stretch coming up.
Shall we lift the pace a little bit?
Like top cyclists,
the rookies are cycling closely behind Matt
in a pocket of air created behind his path.
This is referred to as the slipstream.
Cycling in the slipstream lets you go faster while using less energy.
Tucking your head down makes your body into a more aerodynamic shape
and, in turn, makes you go faster.
We're going to go left here, so just slow down a bit.
Just watch out. It might be a bit slippery.
Slow down, Tom. Nice and steady round the bend.
Watch the wet as well. OK, nice and steady.
Good stuff. Well done, guys.
How are you feeling, guys?
We're not too bad.
That's a thumbs up from Tom! Only another 18 miles to go!
My first tip is to enjoy what you do.
I absolutely love the training that I do.
It means that it's not a job for me, it's not a chore.
My tip is a bit of a boring one, but consistency.
You're far better off having a nice, consistent routine,
training across every week of the year,
than you are doing a lot of training one week and nothing the next.
And the last tip is to find a good group to train with.
It means you work really hard and race them during training
and have fun.
Back on the Tour of Britain stage...
-You all right, Tom?
Stay close, Tom.
..the rookies and Matt are still pushing on at a blistering pace.
Watch out for the sheep.
There we go.
But it's not long before they face another tough uphill section.
Select a nice low gear,
spin your legs nice and easy and really kind of think about the way
you're breathing as well so you're in control.
I'm very, very impressed with you guys at the moment.
Eating these climbs for breakfast!
I think we'll have another downhill section now,
so we just go easy to the top
and then we'll maximise the downhill section, OK?
That's a really good tactical way to save energy
and use the land to your advantage, really.
This could be the fastest section so far.
Well done, guys. That's great.
Really good skills.
After 17.5 miles, Matt is about to start piling on the pressure.
It's time to test out the rookies' sprinting abilities.
Go, go, go, go!
OK, go. It's there, it's that sign.
OK, so look at them now.
Matt has moved aside, and Erin and Tom are going for it.
They're going much faster than they were a moment ago.
-Erin's out in front.
-To the line all the way.
Tom is struggling to keep up.
Well done, guys. Fantastic.
Seriously impressive from Erin there,
as she sets an incredible pace, but has she peaked too soon?
It's pretty much all uphill.
Sitting down like you're doing is the best thing
and also peddling in a lovely low gear.
It's going to be hard, it's going to be tough.
Come on, rookies!
The rookies have to dig deep to sprint the final uphill section
to Alex with the finish flag.
Take it up now, guys. Go on.
Go on, Tom! All the way, mate, come on!
Both of you. All the way!
Well done, guys.
How tiring was that?
It was all right up until, like, the sprint stage.
-What about you, Tom? How are you feeling now?
I bet you're tired.
Matt's advice has helped me improve my cycling technique
and all the things about cycling.
Going around, he was telling us tactics
and he was trying to keep us going.
He was really, like, supportive of us.
'Tom, cycling is a sport that requires focus'
and a lot of determination, and
you had that in absolute spades.
Erin, you were mightily impressive today.
You were strong, you were determined, very, very skilful
and, boy, have you got a sprint!
It's time for a different type of cycling,
and to meet our next mentor.
Go for it, Liam!
Meet BMX master Liam Phillips.
In the past few years, he's been hauling in multiple gold medals in
events all over the world, including winning the World Championships
Let's hear his top tips.
Firstly, have fun.
I've grown up racing this sport, and being a cyclist is about going out
and enjoying time on your bike.
Second top tip would be, work hard on the technical aspect of the sport
and really fine tune that part of cycling as a whole.
And that leads to my third top tip,
which is, set a goal, that has to be realistic,
and then work hard towards that.
Liam's top tips are...
Have fun. Work on the technical aspects.
Improving your technique can shave crucial seconds off your lap times.
Set goals. Keep them realistic and work towards them.
How old were you when you first started BMXing?
I started at five years old.
That was when I first took to the BMX track.
-You obviously know Sir Chris Hoy.
You know Mark Cavendish.
They both started racing BMX and, for me personally,
I think that the foundation and the skills you acquire
from a young age on the BMX track, you can use those same skills
doing whatever form of cycling that you choose.
The manoeuvring of the bike itself
and how you become almost part of the bike. You're as one.
If you watch Mark Cavendish sprint now,
he finds holes and he's able to move around
like nobody else in the peloton,
and I think that actually comes from the fact that he spent
his whole youth and childhood racing BMX bikes.
OK, this is your first timed lap.
In order to see what level the rookies are at...
Make your speed, make your speed.
..Liam has challenged them to do a lap of the track
as quick as they can.
Head over to the inside, the inside.
After seeing what they're made of,
Liam is confident that with a few steers on technique,...
Be nice and supple here.
..and sharing some tricks of the trade,
he can shave crucial seconds off their lap times.
Sprint, sprint, sprint!
Solid time from Erin in her first attempt.
Tom lays down a decent time, too, but there's room for improvement.
If we do a bit more work on some technical elements,
we'll be able to get those times for everybody
down by a good margin, I hope.
Liam begins with some tips on the starting gate.
Vital seconds saved here can win races.
Put your bike in the middle of the starting gate,
get your pedals level, put some pressure on your front foot
and then by pushing on your front foot,
you're able to stand up and rest your foot on your back pedal.
Just try and relax into it.
Don't try and push really hard on that front foot.
There we go!
You made it look easy!
The next area I'd like to focus on is corners,
and the objective is, basically,
to cover the least amount of ground as possible.
Keep your inside pedal high.
If your inside pedal is low, and it's like that,
as you tilt your bike over, your pedal is going to hit the floor.
Riders can use the banking...
There we go. Brilliant!
..to help propel themselves down the middle of the straight.
Go for it. There we go.
And accelerate. Good job.
So the next thing I'd like to go through is pumping,
which is trying to generate speed
by using your body and your bike in sync.
Very similar to when you've been on a swing,
where you come up and then you use your body,
you kick your legs forward, to try and generate that momentum.
So this is on the upward movement of the jump,
and then this is on the downward movement.
I'm going to start nice and slow
and then I'm going to come up... Push down, down, down.
-He makes it look really easy.
He doesn't do any peddling through that whole section.
First up, it's Tom.
Push those elbows away. Push them away. There we go.
-Not allowed to pedal on that bit?
-Nope, no peddling.
Next up, it's Erin.
That's good, good.
Right then, Liam, let's how fast you can do it!
I'm under pressure now. All right.
That's just crazy.
Hi, my name is Joanna Rowsell Shand
and I'm a cyclist on the Great Britain team.
I've won two Olympic gold medals - one from London and one from Rio.
In order to be a professional cyclist,
you need to be very determined to work hard.
You need to be able to overcome setbacks.
You need to be physically fit and willing to train and push your body.
You also need to be willing to eat a good, healthy, balanced diet.
Remember your fruit and veg, your carbohydrates,
your protein and commit to the full training programme -
not just the actual bike riding.
Training in the bag.
It's time to see if the rookies can shave some time off their laps.
Tom is first in the start gates.
Go on, Tom!
That's it, go on! A fast start, isn't it?
-Yes, way fast.
-Definitely carrying a lot speed into their first jump.
Come on, Tom, that's it. Attack!
Go tight into that turn.
Oh, he's done it lovely there.
I think he's going to beat his time easily. One big pull.
You need a good exit from this bend.
-Pumping it now. That's it.
-Go on, Tom.
-Go on, Tom!
-Go on! Stick to the lines.
-Go on, Erin.
-Come on, Erin!
She's fast. She's fast onto that first jump.
Oh, look at that high pedal.
Beautiful line through that bend, wasn't it?
-Go on, Erin. Last push.
-Oh, look at her.
She's very good at this bit.
Beautiful body position. Come on, you can do it!
Sprint to the line! Sprint! Woo!
Now, I can tell you the scores on the doors.
So, Tom, I'm pleased to tell you
that you went way faster in your second ride,
by over 13 seconds, and you did...
Fantastic. Well done.
And then, Erin, you went well under a minute.
53 seconds dead, which is almost ten seconds faster.
-Well done, Erin.
-So, nice one!
The tips that Liam gave me were really good and helpful.
I've learned quite a lot, like handling skills.
Instead of just peddling, you can use your whole body
to propel yourself forward, really.
Tom, for me, you were brilliant at taking instruction,
implementing that and going out and doing everything that I'd asked.
I would love for you to be involved with this sport.
Erin, you've got amazing natural ability,
blowing my expectations, and it's been a pleasure to work with you.
Cycling is a diverse sport, so we thought we'd give the rookies
a taste of yet another type of cycling.
Purpose-built for the Glasgow Commonwealth Games,
Alex is leading the rookies into the Sir Chris Hoy velodrome.
And this is it.
-What do you think?
And you're going to be riding around this track.
But I think you might need a little bit of help,
so we've lined up a three-time Olympic medallist...
Also double Track World Champion and Commonwealth gold medallist.
Rob is best known for his achievements on the track
in team pursuit and madison.
It's top tip time.
You need passion for it.
You need to really want to do it.
You need to be open-minded.
I would say do absolutely everything from a young age,
whether it's BMX, mountain biking,
time trialling and here on the velodrome.
And my third, you need dedication.
Rob's top tips are...
You need to really want to do it.
Be open-minded as to which cycling event is best suited to you.
To make it to the top in cycling,
a huge amount of dedication is needed.
Right, guys, we're going to get you riding around and,
by the end of the day,
-you see the fence running around the top?
We're going to have you brushing your elbow on there
and we are going to do a lap-time trial.
-What do you reckon?
-So, it's all about speed, technique and nerve.
-You'll love it.
Take a bit of a pew, here.
So, this is the home straight.
Obviously, the back straight opposite us,
and the fastest part of the track is up there,
just above the top corner of the British Cycling sign,
from the fence all the way down to that corner there,
just past the start and finish line.
There's no better way to learn than getting stuck in.
With the guidance of Rob,
the rookies begin by getting a feel for the track and the bikes.
Just remember, nice and relaxed.
Give me a high five.
Ali, a coach at the velodrome,
is here to get the most from the rookies.
All this is just teaching you to relax on the bike.
Once you get up on the banking,
you don't want to be stiff and really holding on.
With the rookies gaining in confidence,
it's time for them to start working their way up the track.
Alex and Ali are also working their way up.
They're going to have to come around the back of us,
so, every lap, they're getting higher and higher.
I'm nervous about this.
It's higher than you actually think.
Just keep your eye looking up where you want to be, OK?
Don't keep looking down at the blue.
OK, that's it.
-Well done, Tom.
Yeah, good, Tom.
Now, straight up to the blue now, in the straight.
They did brilliant in the road race, then they absolutely nailed the BMX,
and now look at them.
They look like proper track cyclists.
These two are born to cycle.
With track time under their belts and confidence rising,
it's time for the rookies to do a one-lap time trial.
First up is Tom.
He comes up to speed and crosses the line to begin his lap.
Come on, Tom.
Go on, that's it!
Go on, Tom.
Time comes round the final bend and it's a big push for the line.
Stop the clock!
-How did you find that Tom?
Yeah, a bit.
Your turn, Erin.
-Are you ready?
After coming up to speed, Erin crosses the line.
Start the clock, Ali!
-Come on, Erin, that's it.
-Go on, Erin.
She's keeping a good position on the track.
That's obviously the shortest distance.
Look at that determination as she comes around the final bend!
Erin, go on, go on!
Some impressive times from both the rookies,
but there's work to be done.
The biggest thing that slows a bike rider down is aerodynamics.
So, when we come down to the bottom of the track,
I want you on the drops,
your hands roll in, which will then roll your shoulders in
and then you tuck your head down,
make yourself as small as possible.
So, all the time, you've got to concentrate on that line,
but also nice and tucked in.
As well as improving their aerodynamics,
the rookies need to gain more height and use gravity to gain extra speed.
So, this is where it starts to get really scary.
They're going to try and get all the way up the track to the very edge,
where the barriers are.
It looks absolutely terrifying.
Look at that, look at that!
That's really high.
Right, this is going to be a little practice, OK?
This is the line that you want when you do the time trial.
Nice and high, as high as you can.
When they begin their time-trial laps,
they'll dive down this final bend towards the start line
to carry as much speed as they can into their crucial timed laps.
Straight line into this corner.
And that's how you ride the track.
In your professional opinion, Ali, how well are they doing?
The marked difference to from starting, walking up to the track,
to now is unbelievable.
-They've done very, very well.
But can the rookies take everything they've learned
and put it into practice when it really matters,
in the final time trial?
-Push, push, push!
Tom dives down off that fastest part of the track to begin his timed lap.
That's it, really drive it, really drive it.
Body position's much better.
Come on, Tom, dig deep now!
Go on, Tom! Come on, Tom!
Superb grit and determination from Tom,
as the finish line comes into sight.
This is the final straight now. Come on! Attack, attack!
All the way to the line, all the way. That's it.
Stop the clock.
-How was that?
Great effort, Tom!
Now it's Erin's turn to dive off that bend
and begin that lap that counts.
-Go, go, go, go, go!
-Go on, Erin.
-And she's off!
Great line round that first corner, Erin.
-Go on, Erin!
-Come on, Erin, keep pushing.
-Push, push, push!
Look at her cling to that line round the final bend!
But has she got enough left in the tank?
-Go on, Erin, Keep riding!
Incredible effort, Erin -
but what's that time?
It's going to be close.
Has Tom beaten his first time of 25 seconds flat?
-Tom, your second time was 23.16 seconds.
Whoa! Well done, well done.
Erin, your second time was 19.75,
-under the 20 seconds.
I'm proud of myself beating my time.
The thing what surprised me is that I reached the top of the velodrome.
I didn't think I was going to get that high but,
yeah, I really liked it.
Tom, I thought you made some massive improvements and, obviously,
the clock doesn't lie. Big thumbs-up from me, well done.
Erin, what an incredible little bike rider you are at the moment.
Already, you delivered every single time.
High adrenaline stuff from the rookies today,
with a remarkable road race,
a BMX bonanza and track-cycling trial.
But have they got what it takes to peddle their way to the top?
I've been blown away just by your sheer determination and skill,
and I'm going to be watching your careers very, very closely.
Both of you, keep working hard and, hopefully, I'll see your name
at the Olympics or winning a world title.
I can say that I've been here and tried to help you on that journey.
In the future, I can certainly see you in a professional jersey,
riding for a team. A big thumbs-up from me.
Well done and please continue to just enjoy your bike riding.
-Wow, rookies, that was fantastic!
So, how have you enjoyed your taste of professional cycling?
-Really enjoyed it, it's been amazing.
You looked like you we having a great time.
So, Erin, do you still want to be a professional cyclist?
-Are you sure?
All right, but if you don't make it to the Olympics,
there is another professional cycling job
that you might not have considered yet -
cycle rickshaw rider!
Come on, get on board!
There's no medals, but you can make a fortune out of tips, you know?
Does your world revolve around cycling? Is your ambition all about pedal power? Then cycling might be the career you should chase, just like rookies Erin and Tom! Presenter Alex Riley helps them set their wheels spinning through a journey of cycling discovery. They are assessed by a leading sport scientist before attempting a stage of the Tour of Britain cycle race. The stage contains a punishing sprint and an arduous climb, but the rookies are flanked by Olympian Matt Stevens and police outriders to help them along the way! They then meet eleven-time World Championship-winning BMX racing cyclist Liam Phillips, who teaches them a few tricks of the trade. Finally they hit the velodrome to pit themselves against the clock on the terrifying slopes of the track!