Are They Stupid?

Several riders are being sucked into a sporting and judicial vortex after police investigations claim links them the infamous Doctor Ferrari. In his defence Filippo Pozzato claimed he did work with Ferrari from 2005 to 2009 but it was an innocent deal where he just paid for training plans. La Repubblica says he paid €40,000-€50,000 a year for the service.

If possible, try to stop the laughs and give Pozzato the benefit of the doubt. Let’s actually imagine he and others have been paying €50,000 for training plans because this still involves big risks.

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The Altitude Tent

Altitude tent

Altitude training has long been a fixture for endurance athletes. It has been common for riders to head for the mountains for some time. As well as familiarising themselves with the local passes and working on the pedal stroke riders are also subject to hypoxia or oxygen deprivation, triggering a set of responses in the body.

But riders need not go to the high mountains for this. It is possible to sit at home yet experience the conditions of altitude thanks to what is commonly known as an altitude tent.

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The early season training camp

Having asked for your questions about the sport, one subject that came up was the timely subject of team training camps. I’ve covered the pre-season training camps and to summarise these are often more about logistics and team building than anything else, where riders and staff get issued their clothing and measured for bikes and maybe do a survival course or other team-building exercises.

But right now many teams are gathering to ride together ahead of the upcoming season. Some of course have been racing in Australia but in recent weeks most European teams have been assembling in Spain and Italy to ride together. Here’s a look at what’s involved.

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The pre-season training camp

Ag2r camp

If you’re on Twitter and follow various pro cyclists you might have noticed quite a few “back to work” messages in the past couple of weeks. Riders have had their time off and it there is no racing until the Tour Down Under in mid-January, there’s plenty of training to be done.

“Cardiologist, podiatrist, dentist, Nalini, Medilast, meeting, medical exam, anti-doping control, Fizik, now a breather with a visit to Olympique Lyonnais”

That’s a day in the life of Luis Ángel Maté at the Cofidis training camp in Lyon, France’s second city. Note there’s no riding. Instead this is a chance for checks and admin, marketing and measurements. Nalini is the clothing supplier and riders get measured for their kit, there is no S, M or L, instead the clothing is measured like a tailor-made suit. After all these companies want their kit to look good and ensuring it hangs right on a pro is part of this. Talking of jerseys, we should see the new Cofidis jersey unveiled.

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Etna, the hottest destination

Sapienza Etna

Italian pro team Liquigas have had a semi-permanent base on the slopes of Mount Etna this year. Etna is an active volcano in Sicily, the large island at the southern tip of the Italian peninsula. It’s black slopes often contrast with a snowy peak and at times, the infernal glow of lava.

Liquigas’s mountain HQ is the Rifugio Giovanni Sapienza, a mountain lodge also the choice of the Astana team. A pumice stone’s throw away lies the Hotel Corsaro, as used by two more teams, Lampre and Katusha.

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Motorpacing as training


I’m slightly reluctant to cover this topic in case someone decides to go out and try this in a rush and ends up the wrong side of local traffic laws or worse, in hospital. So a word of caution first in that this is dangerous and I’m covering what the pros do rather than suggesting you try it for yourself.

Motorpacing is a common technique used by the pros. It has several uses:

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How come the Dutch are so good at riding in crosswinds?

I found the video thanks to my online nemesis, BIGRINGRING.COM. If you’re watching the classics this year and see the race get blown apart by a crosswind, you are likely to find plenty of Dutchmen in the front group. Holland isn’t particularly windy but it is exposed. With an extensive coastline and above all, a … Read more

Lab tests vs. the real world

Several people have been returning to a piece from this time last year when I revealed Quick Step thought about signing Peter Sagan but eventually decided against it and the Slovak wunderkind joined Liquigas. What’s the Dutch word for regret? QS team manager Lefevere said Sagan delivered good results in an effort test and a … Read more

Training the mind

Denis Troch probably isn’t a name you know but he is an instrumental figure for quite a few French riders. A former professional soccer player with several Parisian clubs, Troch retired into coaching and then onto team management. But football management is one of the most insecure jobs in the world, managers can get replaced … Read more