Published: 13th Feb 2024 Images: Scottish Cycling

A peek behind the curtain: Inside RACE National

Before we kick off the summer season, the Scottish Cycling coaching team have been busy preparing riders with several RACE National and Performance Programmes sessions and cluster over recent weeks.

You may have heard RACE National mentioned as Scottish Cycling’s performance programme designed to support Youth riders (aged 13-16) to develop and progress into the elite level in the sport.

But how does that actually happen?

We spent the weekend at two RACE National clusters: on the boards of the velodrome for sprinters and at our Youth MTB XC camp in Peebles, to explain what goes into a session.

RACE Sprint

While elite track riders are preparing for the British Track Championships at the end of the month, it’s been full steam ahead for our Youth riders with RACE National sessions being delivered by Scottish Cycling coaches and supported by volunteers.

Recent sessions at the Emirates, as part of our RACE Sprint programme, have been introducing key components of racing to youth riders.

Each session is obviously different in its scope, but last weekend the team delivered a session at the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome, which was led by Pathway Coach Lusia Steele and supported by Archie Johnstone and Kath McCormick.

The session started off with a workshop, looking at some flying 200m buildups and entries and then moved into some strength and conditioning work, with some fun individual and team challenges to keep riders engaged.

“It’s important to introduce these riders to core work and some plyometric exercises to help their explosiveness” adds Steele.

The on-bike portion of the session started with some skills challenges before all riders put into practice their learnings from the workshop, setting flying 200m times.

There was some obvious success with one rider unofficially breaking the Scottish Youth B record, in their first attempt at a flying 200.

Tactics were a key part of the session too, with Kath and Lusia leading riders into tactical match sprint races, where riders were prompted with tactical challenges, that taught them the principles of match sprinting.

Overall, the session was a success, with riders continuing their development with more RACE Sprint sessions to come in following weeks.


The previous weekend saw our Youth MTB XC riders head to Peebles for a three-day residential training camp.

Nineteen riders travelled to the Borders, with RACE National riders being joined by their English counterparts as part of a joint camp with British Cycling’s National School of Racing.

Led by Scottish Cycling MTB Coach Paul Newnham and British Cycling’s Ric Jamieson & Matt Cox, three more staff stayed throughout: two volunteer coaches Chris Wilkinson and Stevie Crowther, and our Performance Coordinator Isabel Sloan.

“The aim of the camp is to build on the basic MTB flat pedal skills riders developed in previous sessions and improve technical skills out on the trails.” said Newnham.

Off the bike there was a concerted effort to develop riders understanding of performance behaviours and ways of working, to provide the knowledge to get the best out of any future camps and race trips in the coming season.

The riders arrived on Friday evening and spent an hour on a workshop of developing cultures and professionalism, before supper and lights out.

It was an early start on Saturday morning before a double day, with the morning focusing on flat pedal skills before the afternoon sessions, which was an endurance three-hour ride through the Tweed Valley.

The evening saw a workshop on nutrition with Scottish Institute for Sport lead Nutritionist Dr Nikos Jakubiak, on how riders can fuel themselves and create the building blocks of what an athlete’s diet should look like.

Sunday morning saw a second three-hour session, this time focusing on skills training and descending while tired, before stopping for lunch, before the riders rode final two- and half-hour endurance ride on technical terrain to finish off the camp.

For many riders, it would be their first experience of a residential camp, which should prepare them for future event with the performance squad.

Several of the U23 and Junior riders, for example, will travel to Banyoles in Catalonia later this month for a week-long racing and training camp.

These camps wouldn’t be possible without the support of fantastic clubs and volunteer coaches, who provide excellent insight and experience as well as support the delivery of these sessions.

If you wish to get involved in support the Scottish Cycling Performance sessions, please drop us a line here.

Applications for our RACE Sprint programme on the track are currently open for all riders from second year youth B to juniors also. Expression of interest can be put in here: Microsoft Forms