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In pursuit of excellence

When most athletes and sportspeople train, they wear an assortment of old T-shirts, woolly hats and faded leggings. Not so the five smartly-dressed members of the Manchester-based Great Britain Cycling Team's Under-23 Endurance academy.

Rod Ellingworth and Simon Lillistone, who worked together to start the academy two years ago, set high standards for riders in all aspects of their training. Discipline begins, Mr Ellingworth said, with prompt attendance and proper kit.

"They are part of the Great Britain cycling team and they must look the part."

The academy was created with the goal of increasing the medal-winning prospects of Britain's track cyclists. Mr Lillistone acted as manager during the academy's first year and Mr Ellingworth is chief coach.

Its programme of study and training allows young athletes to "learn about what it takes to get to the top, while often training alongside our Olympic medal winners," he said.

"If it had been in place 10 years ago, Rob Newton, Chris Hayles and the rest of the country's top cyclists would have got to where they are much earlier."

There is a fresh timetable every week. Riders have food hygiene classes at the Fielden campus of Manchester's City college, and they also study nutrition and physiotherapy.

Future lottery funding depends on results, and the academy's junior riders will be expected to bring back a significant haul of medals from the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.

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