Thursday, January 20, 2022
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Jon Sharples – the man behind Trainsharp’s “Perfect Bank of Knowledge”


Coaches, everyone has one these days and a name which keeps cropping up when we interview riders is that of Jon Sharples and his ‘TrainSharp Cycle Coaching’ company.

In time honoured VeloVeritas fashion we ‘had a word.’

Jon Sharples
Jon (l) and Sean Yates work together to build the company. Photo©Trainsharp

What’s your background please, Jon?

“I was born in Lancashire in 1973 and began bike racing at the age of 16 when I lived in Sussex.

“I was pretty lucky that I had been blessed with a winning sprint, although cycle racing wasn’t easy for me, I wasn’t a natural aerobic monster therefore felt I would never make it as a pro – so I made sure I had a Plan B.

“I worked at the Sussex University as a college lecturer – that’s where I knew I had a passion for teaching others and sharing my knowledge.

“I have always loved the training aspect to sport – train smart and you will get the results you deserve.

“I guess the highlight of my racing ‘career’ is probably the year 2000 where I had what we call an ‘endless summer,’ I just felt no fatigue all season and enjoyed my racing a lot.

“A special memory was winning the Sussex Divisional Road Racing Championships that year.

“Towards the end of my racing days I was probably remembered for always having an affection for the race of truth – the time trial – the best man always won that event…”

How did Trainsharp come to be?

“The company Trainsharp has grown into a team of coaches organically and by word of mouth, really.

“I started out coaching a few riders from my home office, as it began to take off I dedicated more time and resources into it.

“Gradually I have built a team around me I see as the best and we now have a team of seven coaches plus staff, including Sean Yates, James McCallum, Dean Downing and sport scientists Elliot Lipski.”

Cycle training companies are becoming ever more prevalent – what’s your Unique Selling Proposition?

“It’s not anything particularly unique as such, but what we have that sets us apart, would be the spread of resources we can pull from for each individual rider we coach.

“We have the experience of British Pros, Elite road coaches, the race tactics and know-how of a World-Class Directeur Sportif and the understanding of physiological adaptations from a sport science perspective; all this together makes for the perfect “bank of knowledge” that all of our riders benefit from.”

Sean  Yates is one of your coaches – has he become a bit more scientific these days ?I remember those tales of huge training runs…

“Sean we still call the ‘enforcer’ and is still very much a traditionalist, he still rides his bike in to work every day, no matter the weather, and normally in just shorts and a jersey!

“But he has taken on board so much from his time spent with Sky and I am sure will benefit from his time at Tinkoff.

“His discussions with our Lead Sport Scientist Elliot often become a good listen, but one thing they both agree on is that there is no substitute for a six hour ride and the physiological adaptations you get from it.

Elliot is just trying to convince him that seven days of back to back six hour rides isn’t always the best option for everybody!”

What’s best to train by, heart rate or power – and why?

“Both, together.

“But if it was a choice between the two: Power.

“It doesn’t lie to you, your heart rate variability is huge and can be deceiving, power is consistent and the perfect training tool and race partner.”

I notice you have a client in Oman…

“Yes, we’ve had clients all around the world you don’t need to live next door to your coach these days.

“With technology you can access people remotely anywhere in the world; Dubai, Austria, France etc. lots of different time-zones!

“USA is now becoming aware of the Trainsharp brand and our coaching is starting to take off over there now too – exciting times for the company.”

How many clients can an individual coach handle?

“It depends on the coach and the level of coaching the rider has opted for, some packages provide a much higher level of service and feedback and some are more of a ‘plan and go’ format.

“It’s all down to the rider and how they perform best with which level of service, we are very flexible in working around the needs of the rider.”

There’s you and Sean – and who else?

“Trainsharp has an ever growing number of team staff; our dream is to create a ‘centre of excellence’ including the best UK coaching.

“Right now we have many staff behind the scenes that help with the smooth running of business which includes seven coaches directly working under Trainsharp, we also work closely with a number of other professionals at the top of their game in their respective fields.”

Jon Sharples
Jon with Graham Briggs and Matthew Holmes. Photo©Trainsharp

You have pro riders for clients – how does that dovetail with team management?

“Lots of pro-riders now have personal coaches; it’s all about the rider/coach relationship over years of getting to know each other, a friendship and a business relationship at times too – and just because a rider changes team in his career it may not mean he has to change his training style and his coach.

“As long as the communication between the team management staff is there it works seamlessly, the delivery of the rider to their races in the best shape is the ultimate goal.

“We have a good network of teams and now they are coming to us to place riders within their respective teams.

“That is something we have worked hard on in recent months; building the relationship and respect from teams for our judgements on talented riders coming through the ranks – and the riders also know Trainsharp can help them on their quest for success – pro cycling is a bit like X factor now.

“It’s hugely popular and there is a queue of young riders all pursuing the same dream!”

Are more sportive riders coming to you?

“The sportive market has always been a large percentage of our client base, but for sure, it’s ever growing.

“Sportive riders don’t seem to have the desire to train as much for their event, sometimes they feel they don’t deserve a coach but times are changing.

“A coach can ensure they make the most of time because of their busy lifestyle – and helping them stay healthy over winter.

“A healthy person is a productive person, not just on the bike but at work too.

“We eliminate the guess work for what they need to do on the bike each day so the rider doesn’t spend all day dreaming about what to do, more importantly preventing panic training!

“City workers are generally the larger percentage of sportive riders wanting to have a coach.

“They are severely ‘time crunched’ and Trainsharp help them use the gym and train with colleagues – businesses generally organise group entries to cycling events and we cater for groups with coaching keeping it sociable, fun and realistic to the available time.

“The cycling industry is still growing.

“Generally sportive and recreational riders are often the ones that improve quickest and that is a great feeling as a coach, watching someone improve and enjoy the bike.”

Jon Sharples
Jon in his own competitive mode. Ph