Britain’s 14-time Paralympic champion Dame Sarah Storey is on a mission to find female cycling talent in the UK.
Storey is heading the Skoda DSI Cycling Academy in a search to find two of the best amateur female riders to try to progress into the professional peloton.
“Some women miss out on the transition into the senior peloton,” she said.
“The step out of junior ranks into senior can be really daunting. I was approached with the hope of setting up something within women’s cycling.”
She added: “It remains the fact that the under-23 category doesn’t fully exist for women. The men can graduate out of the junior ranks and into the under-23 for a time.”
With four riders already taking part, the three-year programme is designed to develop riders’ performance, nutrition and media profile.
Storey said: “It isn’t just about heart and lungs. You could have the most talented physical specimen in front of you, but if they don’t have the mental resilience and the mindset and also the collaborative working aspect…
“In professional cycling, you’re almost sacrificing your own result in order to benefit somebody else and that takes a special kind of person.”
Storey and her team are looking for two more amateur riders, aged between 17 and 22, to nurture with the aim of progressing them to the professional peloton, with applications closing on 5 March.
The 43-year-old has won 25 Paralympic medals including nine golds for cycling and five golds for swimming, and is aiming to compete at her eighth Games this summer in Tokyo.