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Our embedded CYCLING TIPS reporter and Pro Cyclist David Kemp of Fly V-Australia Presented by Successful Living has been slugging it out in the Amgen Tour of California (ATOC) this past week and has compiled a list of CYCLING TIP gems. I always love getting this stuff first hand from a guy who has fresh experience doing these level of races. I’ve been fortunate to have ridden and raced with Kempy a few times and he’s one of the most talented and switched on riders I know. Unfortunately he fell sick because of that horrible California weather and couldn’t get the results he deserves. Thanks Kempy and well done!
Kempy bridging to Mancebo on Stage 1
PRO Racing Tactics :
The tactics vary from team to team. For example, Astana’s goal was to control the race and ride tempo on the front and let the smaller teams go for the breakaways and get some "TV" time for exposure for their sponsors. You know very well that 99% of the time this move doesn’t work, it’s that 1% that keeps you going!
Kempy and Johnson catching Mancebo on Stage 1 and getting 11 minutes on the bunch.
Racing in the pro peloton is very different to racing in the Continental races back in Australia. Everything is calculated – the amount of time that the peloton will let a breakaway get to and how fast they need to ride to bring it back in time is all a calculated effort. Every stage has a direct purpose or tactic and not much is left to chance. For example on stage 3 we had an epic climb just 10km into the stage. Normally the climbers would be smacking it up there. However, because it was still 170km to go to the finish and flat after the climb, i noticed that all the CSC climbers dropped back to get their sprinter Heado over the climb and back into the peloton safely. Same deal with Quickstep for Boonen. They all knew their team’s best chance of winning the stage was to make sure their sprinter made it to the end intact. Even though it was a day with big climbs, it wasn’t the climber’s day.
However, the day before on stage 2 , Levi told Popovich to attack a few km from the top of the last climb in order split the pack to pieces and to get Levi valuable time on the other contenders. These situations have everything to do with where and when the difficult and deciding sections of the stage is placed.
I tell you, it’s definitely more aggressive and faster racing at these ranks!
Do any of you wonder why the brakes are sometimes on different sides depending on the country? For example, in Europe the back brake is always on the right side and front on the left. Well there IS a reason for this. The reason is because before the days of race radios if you got a front tire puncture you put your left hand up and if you got a rear tire puncture you put your right hand up. This is so you can signal as well as brake on the side that isn’t flat. I’m not sure why this is the opposite in Australia. Anyone?
One thing you always see the big hitters doing is conserving until the right moment to use their power! They always use the small gears and spinning their legs. Also, their frequent eating and drinking is very noticeable.
Recovery Between Stages:
Recovery starts as soon as you get off the bike! You shove down a sandwich and a protein shake right after you hop off the bike. Then while transferring to the hotel you need to try and drink 1L of water then followed by 1L of sports drink! Back at the hotel, into the massage room for an hour massage and specific work on anything that is bothering you, (e.g. you crashed up you hip and need that released longer than normal, you need to tell the masseur this stuff as you get on the table – don’t expect them to be mind readers!) Off the massage table and i get into compression wear by 2xu with compression socks and long tights. I find this helps enormously. Then down to dinner starting with some steamed veges or salad, pasta and rice with chicken and a pomodoro sauce, and for dessert a fruit salad. Then back to bed to try and get 10hours sleep. Wake up and more pasta for breakfast maybe some rice too. Don’t forget the sports drink – almost 1.5L before the race starts. This makes sure your body is ready for the punishing it is going to cop later in the day.
Your recovery for the next stage starts right away when you jump back on the bike. You have to eat as soon as you are riding again even though you’re not hungry. Think of cows grazing. That’s what you have to do! You’ll find that your legs get better as the tour goes on…not worse. I use all these methods while training as well. So remember, the next time you want to tap out a 3-4day big block of training….recovery is the key to doing that!
Bad Day On The Bike
When you have a bad day on the bike (and lets face it we’ve all been there!) the best thing you can do is ride good position in the bunch. When you’re in a good position and the shit hits the fan you’re in the best place to give your self a chance of staying in the peloton. If your at the back and feeling like crap, then the chance of getting dropped greatly increases when the speed increases. Equally as important on those bad days is nutrition. Eat more than you normally would and drink extra sports drink. Nutrition and hydration is the key on bad days .
The goal in the ITT is ride as fast as possible without blowing your legs to bits! Unless it’s a 2km TT never start ‘full gas’ in the first km. I always try to increase to full gas over the first 3km and then i find my rhythm and focus on staying as areo as possible! Aero Aero Aero is the most important thing! You can gain a lot and lose a lot of time here in this seemlingly small detail! Gettting set up on you TT bike by someone who knows what they’re doing is very important! Make sure you know the TT course, ride it a couple times if possible, know where the wind is coming from, and know where the false flats and hills are. These are places that you again can gain or lose a lot of time on so make sure you factor in 20-30sec phases of recovery where you get aero and a few deep breaths and soft pedaling. I usually do this on a decent or coming into a corner.
Breathing is the other really important thing that you have to make sure that you focus on. Control your breathing with deep breaths and try not to panic and get caught doing short shallow breaths. This will only lead to faster build up of latic acid which you need to avoid!
I hope that you all got something out of this…let me know if you have any Q’s