Dogma Athletica in Edwards launches Junior Cycling Initiative | VailDaily.com

Dogma Athletica in Edwards launches Junior Cycling Initiative

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Vail Junior Cycling coaches Rod Connolly and Brendan Finneran.

Dogma Athletica is launching a new junior cycling program at the beginning of 2014. USA Cycling Coach and Dogma Athletica owner, Rod Connolly, will head this program. Connolly has more than 25 years of experience in racing, coaching and training cyclists. The program's goal is to offer the most comprehensive coaching, support and knowledge to the region's junior cyclists who have serious cycling aspirations.

Connolly believes this program can cultivate a lot of successful cyclists.

"There is overwhelming data that supports the idea that children who were born and raised at altitude have a higher aptitude for endurance sports," Connolly said. "During these developmental years, several adaptations occur that help the child have an increased ability to assimilate oxygen. If you look at other regions in the world with high elevation plateaus, you typically get a preponderance of strong endurance athletes. The most effective elevations for these adaptations are between 6,000 and 9,000 feet above sea level, so the Vail Valley is ideal."

Coaching methodology

Dogma Athletica has the largest Compu-Trainer cycling studio in Colorado. The studio provides metabolic testing for athletes and has a state-of-the-art strength center in which to conduct sport-specific strength training for the developing cyclists. But Connolly said the factors that truly distinguish this program are the methodology behind the coaching, the camaraderie and the culture.

"I remember what it was like as a junior rider going over to Belgium without any support — it's tough," Connolly said. "Our goal is to create an extensive support system that helps these developing riders actualize their cycling dreams. It will consist of understanding strengths and weaknesses, addressing imbalances, implementing tactics and learning about nutrition and how to work within a team dynamic. It will also create a strong sense of personal accountability.

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"Endurance sports are challenging," Connolly continued. "Even if he or she is extremely talented, the athlete requires a level of discipline and a solid work ethic to move forward in the sport."

Connolly hopes to foster those qualities in a fun environment.

Taking pressure off parents

"I want to take pressure off the parents," he said. "It can be tough for parents with kids who want to move forward in their cycling. From understanding the sport to getting licenses and support at races, we want to help facilitate so things are smooth for the family. That way the athlete can put energy toward academics and other positive outlets."

Connolly is affiliated with USA Cycling and some of its developmental programs.

"I was recently out in California coaching a camp for the big financial donors of USA Cycling's Developmental Foundation," he said. "It was great getting these guys excited about their own riding and hearing about the ways in which they support the next wave of top American riders."

Connolly will use his connections in the industry to help juniors who have the ability get to the next level.

The program is for junior riders between the ages of 12 and 18 who have a strong level of commitment. It will be a year-round program, available to 10 male applicants and 10 female applicants. Long-range plans include creating a destination cycling academy.

"This is a wonderful cycling destination, not solely due to the altitude," Connolly said. "We have great riding, mild weather in the summer months and an infrastructure to support growing the sport in the Vail Valley."

If you have interest in the Vail Valley Junior Cycling Initiative, contact Annie Kautz at annie@liveitcycling.com.