An Art and Design student from Wiltshire College & University Centre has been selected to be part of the prestigious Skoda Driver’s Seat Initiative Cycling Academy.
Maddi Aldam-Gates, who is studying the Foundation Art and Design (pre-degree) course at the Trowbridge campus, was chosen from more than 100 riders to join the Academy, which is led by British Paralympic cycling gold medallist Dame Sarah Storey.
Maddi said: “I’m literally over the moon, so pleased. I was just happy to be chosen for the testing day and never expected to be selected.
“I love the diversity of cycling and cannot wait to see what the Academy has in store for me.”
Maddi will now complete the university-style programme that aims to provide ambitious female cyclists, aged between 17-22, with a route to the elite level of the sport.
A keen swimmer, Maddi only took up cycling during the first lockdown when the pools closed and she needed to find a new sporting focus.
She said: “I’ve been a swimmer at Bradford on Avon Swimming Club since I was 11 years old and most recently at Team Bath Academy Swimming, training five days a week.
“When the pools closed during lockdown, I needed to find something to fill the void.
“My dad is a keen cyclist, he encouraged me to get on a bike and I quickly caught the cycling bug.
“I started off by borrowing his winter training bike and I now borrow his slightly lighter bike, more suited to my training rides.
“With my selection for the Skoda Cycling Academy I might need to start thinking about investing in a road bike all of my own!”
More than 100 aspiring female amateur riders applied to join the Academy by providing details of their cycling experience, ambitions, and training schedule.
A total of 17 riders were then shortlisted to attend the second stage of the selection process, a testing day at the Lee Valley VeloPark in London.
Maddi was put through her paces in a series of cycling tests that included a peak power test, a three-minute maximal test and a 12-minute steady state challenge.
She then completed laps of the outdoor closed circuit to test her physical handling and pacing abilities.
Dame Sarah Storey, Academy principal and Team GB’s most successful Paralympian, said: “Maddi set herself apart from the moment she arrived because it was clear she had planned meticulously and rehearsed what she would do to get the best out of the tests.
“Having only started cycling during the first lockdown, when pools closed, it was clear she has really researched the sport and is eager to continue to improve and experience the processes cycling has to offer.”
The Academy programme will provide Maddi with the opportunity to experience the life of a professional rider, covering the performance, nutrition and media profile required to be a modern-day pro cyclist.
The 2021 schedule also offers the chance to race in the Women’s National Road and Circuit Series and attend Skoda-sponsored events, which include the Women’s Tour and the Tour Series.