Alan Davis MBE, is former coach to Welsh cycling stars such as Geraint Thomas, Elinor Barker, Luke Rowe and Owain Doull. Responsible for developing some of the world’s most famous cyclists of today, he was awarded an MBE in 2017 for his services to cycling. His passion for cycling and inspiring the next generation is hard to ignore.

Geraint Thomas’ former coach Alan Davis MBE, explains why Wales is the perfect place for developing world class cyclists

The home of cycling. The home of champions.

Wales has everything you need when it comes to cycling. I honestly don’t believe there’s a better place to get out on your bike, to enjoy and to develop your skills. We started the Maindy Flyers Youth Cycling Club over 20 years ago, with just 12 members back then. We’ve grown to over 200 this year.

Cycling coach Alan Davies MBE in foreground with members of Maindy Flyers Youth Cycling club stood with bikes behind
cyclists on a outdoor cycling track with sunset in the sky
Coach Alan Davis MBE and members of Maindy Flyers Youth Cycling Club, Cardiff

Wales is the perfect place to foster a love for cycling because you really can have it all, and that’s rare to find. Despite being a small club, we’ve always been spoilt for choice. Within ten minutes, you can be taking in the breath-taking views from the coastal path or if you fancy tiring the legs, take to one of the many challenging hills and mountain races. It’s all accessible, within easy reach and beautiful which helps with motivation on an up-hill climb, I can tell you.

View of the hairpin bend on the mountain road,  Devil's elbow, Sarn Helen, Brecon
Devil's elbow, Sarn Helen, Brecon

Track and trail

Whether it’s on the track or discovering the great outdoors, Wales is rich with facilities. There's the National Velodrome of Wales in Newport and Bike Park Wales in Merthyr Tydfil, then Coed y Brenin in the Snowdonia National Park, and Coed Llandegla, in Wrexham. There’s an even spread of facilities and great routes to explore all around the country.

That’s the icing on the cake for me, and that’s what makes cycling so accessible in Wales. There’s something on offer for everyone, no matter where you live and what your ability.

A cyclist is sitting on his bike, resting and drinking from a water bottle
cyclists in team cycling clothing smiling at team mates
Maindy Flyers Youth Cycling Club training near Cardiff

Passion gives you wings

Passion is as important as facilities for cycling and us ‘Welsh’ seem to have it by the bucket load. It’s our role as a coach to help kids realise their passion and it’s an absolute joy to see them on their bike, ‘flying’ for the first time. It’s the true feeling of freedom. There’s nothing like it. That’s the beauty of cycling. Whether it’s a pathway to becoming a professional cyclist or a hobby for weekends, it’s usually the first sport that young people feel that freedom for the first time. I think that’s a special moment for everyone.

Creating create a champion

People ask me if I think the success that Geraint (Thomas) enjoyed is down to the environment that we have here in Wales and to be honest, it’s hard to challenge that. Yes, quality coaching that inspires youngsters is key but alongside that, our coastline, hills and mountains are forces to be reckoned with and I’d like to think that’s what’s built Geraint’s endurance (and his legs!) for competitive races like the Tour de France.

Geraint Thomas and team Sky competing in the Tour of Britain 2018 cycling race through Wales
Geraint Thomas and team Sky competing in the Tour of Britain 2018 cycling race through Wales
Geraint Thomas and team Sky competing in the Tour of Britain 2018 cycling race through Wales

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