Our alumnus Will Perrett is a man with a mission. A mission to get into the Great Britain Cycling Program. Currently self-funding, Will juggles his training at Derby Arena velodrome with his job as an environmental consultant.
He competed for Team England in the Commonwealth Games this summer and admits he has a lot to thank the DIS for.
Will's Commonwealths journey started as fast as his racing when he was called up just two days before the opening ceremony.
The timing was not great because of a recent bout of Covid and admitted his fitness was not as good as it had been.
Will was initially on the reserve list for the Games and was training in the Derby Arena on the Tuesday when he got the call-up just two days before it all started on the Thursday.
He also came ninth in the gruelling 160-lap points race, staying the course while most of the other riders were lapped and forced to pull out. Once Will was out of contention for the medals, his role was to stick to team tactics and attempt to pull riders back to ensure English rider Oli Wood could get on the podium.
Elsewhere DIS alumni Dan Bigham and Charlie Tanfield won silver medals in the track cycling men’s team pursuit.
There was controversy on the track when his teammate and another DIS alumnus Kyle Gordon was part of a nasty crash in the scratch race when English rider Matt Walls flew off into the spectators. Kyle, competing for Scotland, broke his collar bone. Thankfully no one was seriously hurt but it raised a debate on safety at velodromes.
Will said: “I have never seen anything like that happen before in all my years of competing and it was very shocking. It was a freak accident but I suppose it makes sense to put up barriers.”
Will said he had a great time with the cyclists all staying in the same sports village and the camaraderie was good. He said: “It was so much fun and everything was a bonus. It was one of my aims to get to the Games and I was there competing.
“The Kiwis, Canadians and Scots were all mixing with the English competitors. It was really cool to be there and being in front of a home crowd was wonderful.”
A viral infection with cold symptoms stopped Will travelling to the European championships in Munich. Will said: “I feel unlucky to have felt so rough when it was the busiest time of the year for competing, but that’s the way it goes sometimes. I concentrated on resting, eating property and sleeping well, all things I learned when I was being helped by DIS.”
Will’s cycling career took off when he was studying at the University of Derby and first met DIS co-founder Chloe Maudsley. After a year on the DIS program, Will was removed to make space for other cyclists.
Throughout university he progressed and earned his first national medals in his final year. He went on to join the hugely successful HUUB Wattbike team in Derby while he finished his master’s degree.
He was then able to re-join the DIS program and signed up for support on performance mentoring, performance lifestyle, strength and conditioning, nutrition, physiotherapy and psychology.
Following the closure of the HUUB Wattbike cycling team at the start of the pandemic, to fund his cycling, he initially got a job at East Midlands Airport lugging sacks of post around for Royal Mail. “It kills your performance but it paid the bills.” Will admitted. He later got a job as an environmental consultant.
Lockdown was difficult and Will was forced to train on a static bike in his garage. As restrictions eased, it was Chloe who managed to get him some track time and he attended GB sessions in Manchester.
After performing well, Will gained his first ever selection for GB, and represented them in the 2021 European Championships. He went on to win a couple of British National titles in 2022, as well as putting in some big international performances, coming fifth in the UCI TrackNations Cup in Glasgow, just six points off third. He came third in a Belgium International tournament this spring.
He's stayed in touch with DIS and is grateful for the help over the years. “Chloe still gives me moral support when I need it, as it can be difficult operating outside of the national governing body set-up. I’ll always be grateful for the help over the years,” he said.
After this year’s performances, Will hopes to join the British Cycling Program to continue his progression and to race full-time as a professional.