Cycling: From poor amateur to the world title, Mark Cavendish reveals his hardest journey



With three days left to go as reigning world champion, British cycling star Mark Cavendish yesterday gave the world's top junior riders a compelling masterclass in what they face if they continue in the sport – and warned them that, at higher levels, the challenges did nothing but increase.

The star speaker alongside the Dutch Olympic gold medallist Marianne Vos at a conference organised as part of the week-long World Championships in Maastricht, Cavendish pointed out that, compared with junior racing up to 18, amateur racing – the next category – "was almost a different sport" in which you "could not take anything for granted.

"Suddenly you're racing against amateurs who could be in their thirties and could have been racing at that level for years. You have to keep training and training and there's a big difference in a physical sense," Cavendish explained.

"At junior level the maximum permitted for a one day race was 130km [81 miles], and you could get by if you were a bit fat and trained for three or four hours.

"Suddenly you have to teach your body to resist a pounding that can last for days. It's no longer a hobby. The hardest thing I had to learn as an amateur was maintaining that kind of physical consistency."

Cavendish also revealed he had been "nothing special on the world level" as a junior but had still had an inner conviction from a young age in his talent as a cyclist – and had channelled a large part of his energy towards improving it.

"When you're 14 you know when you're good enough for something. I did everything I could towards that. I learnt German and French at O level and, because GB wasn't that big in cycling at the time and I had to go to mainland Europe, I had to leave school at 16 and go and work in a bank for two years to get some money."

Asked to advise the juniors in their upcoming World Championships races – today is the women's while the men's take place on Sunday –Cavendish said: "Don't change anything you normally do, treat it like a bike race even if there's a medal and a [world champion's jersey] at the end of it.

"But putting on that GB jersey and doing your country proud is something that's really important, too, he stressed."

Other areas covered by the UCI's two-hour conference ranged from the role of supervising races to the media and equipment. The euphemistic term "prevention" was used to introduce the fight against banned drugs.

However, the whisper that went up among the public as Cavendish stepped into the auditorium midway through the congress indicated that the world champion was one of the biggest draws for the juniors present.

The GB junior coach, Matt Winston, said: "Moving into the amateur level is a massive step and, although you can prepare the riders for when they enter the U-23 [amateur] category, it's a huge thing to hear it from someone as well respected as Mark.

"Things like him working in a bank or something to do with education rather than being a full-time rider at that age – which is not something we would want for a junior – are important for them to pick up," Winston emphasised.

Looking at today's race, where GB junior Lucy Garner will be defending her world champion jersey, he said: "The course is very different, so it doesn't necessarily play to our strengths, but... we will be going out there to try and get a result.

"We have got riders to cover the breaks," he added. "And if it is still a bunch of riders together at the top of the [final climb of the] Cauberg, then we will be in with a good chance, too.

Jacqueline Bisset has claimed that young women today are obsessed with being 'hot', rather than 'charming', 'romantic' or 'beautiful'
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham
booksLena Dunham's memoirs - written at the age of 28 - are honest to the point of making you squirm
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvDownton Abbey review: It's six months since we last caught up with the Crawley clan
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
techNew app offers 'PG alternative' to dating services like Tinder
Greg Dyke insists he will not resign as Football Association chairman after receiving a watch worth more than £16,000 but has called for an end to the culture of gifts being given to football officials
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
premier league
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
Mario Balotelli celebrates his first Liverpool goal
premier leagueLiverpool striker expressed his opinion about the 5-3 thriller with Leicester - then this happened
Britain's shadow chancellor Ed Balls (L) challenges reporter Rob Merrick for the ball during the Labour Party versus the media soccer match,
peopleReporter left bleeding after tackle from shadow Chancellor in annual political football match
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says
tvSpoiler warning: Star of George RR Martin's hit series says viewers have 'not seen the last' of him/her
Plenty to ponder: Amir Khan has had repeated problems with US immigration because of his Muslim faith and now American television may shun him
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Service Delivery Manager - Software Company

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Service Delivery Manager Kingston Up...

Year 3 Teacher

£90 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Hull: Year 3 Primary Teacher in HullA f...

Drama Teacher - Hull and Grimsby

Negotiable: Randstad Education Hull: The JobRandstad are currently in need of ...

Reception Teacher

£90 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Hull: Randstad Education is the UK mark...

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments