Amstel Climbing Intervals

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images  by fotoreporter Sirotti

Yesterday we saw the first of the Ardennes Classics, Amstel Gold.  These races are known for their hilly terrain that tend to suit a particular type of rider.  Guys like Cadel, Gerro, Gilbert etc tend to come to the front and shine in these races.

Gerro said on Twitter the other day ” just been out training on some of the Amstel Gold Race roads. In brief you’re either going up, down, left or right for 260km…”

Explosive power climbs is what we’re talking about here.  Short sharp climbs that range from a few hundred meters to a couple kilometers with gradients approaching 20%. These climbs are pure out-of-the-saddle efforts, 100% power climbs.

Climbs that are featured yesterday’s Amstel Gold demand the riders go into VO2Max territory and are extremely difficult (up to 120% over their threshold power).  A great way to train for climbs like these are by doing VO2Max intervals.  I found a really good workout here that I thought I’d share with you (re-printed below).  This description requires that you use a powermeter, but you don’t need to have one.  Just pace yourself at the beginning and make sure you’re in extreme pain at the end.

If you live in Melbourne a perfect hill to do these intervals on is Yarra St off Kew Blvd.

VO2 Max Intervals: (105 – 120% of Threshold Wattage):

2 sets of 2 x 4 min ON 4 min OFF; 8 min in-between sets

  • Warm up easy for 15 – 30 minutes
  • Perform these intervals on a climb (if available)
  • Begin the each interval by modulating your wattage between 105% and 120% of your threshold power.

With an accurately set threshold wattage, 105-120% is pretty much as hard as one can go for 4 minutes

  • Hold your wattage in “zone 5” for 4 minutes.
  • After the first 4 minute interval turn around and coast back down the hill, turn around again and reposition yourself to begin the next interval from the same spot after 4 minutes of recovery.
  • A properly paced interval should feel moderately hard at first, difficult in the middle and like a maximal effort at the end
  • Use the real time feedback from your powermeter to go hard enough but not too hard. Try to maintain your power output above 105% but not above 120% (this is too hard and physiologically unrealistic)
  • After two intervals, take an 8 minute set break to spin around and recover.
  • After you complete both sets ride around in zone 2 or cool down.

“Make the power” any which way you can; it does not have to be pretty. Dance on the pedals out of the saddle or try spinning seated. Be aggressive, get after it! I recommend alternating between sitting and standing. Position your hands out on the hoods for maximum leverage to rock the bike back and forth as you pump up and down on the pedals. With the real time wattage feedback from your powermeter you’ll quickly see which climbing technique enables you to make the power.

Amstel Gold

We all had high hopes on Gerro winning his first Classic at Amstel Gold.  Unfortunately it didn’t pan out but there are still a couple more chances for him to come.  He made no excuses and showed his usual class:

Here are some photos of the race…

Not many Aussies racing Amstel Gold.  Hayman and Gerro during team presentation.

Good to see Koen de Kort able to ride with that nasty gash on his knee from Paris-Roubaix.  Gerro beside him looking fit.

Jens always gritting his teeth telling his body to “shut up”.  Gilbert made the win look easy today.

One of the few flat sections of the race.  Judging by the fact there’s a windmill there I’m guessing it gets the odd bit of wind!

Fuji gets the award for the ugliest kit in the peloton.  I waiting to see if it grew on me before I made that statement.  Not gonna happen…

Cadel coming in 13th is pretty damn good for acting as a domestique for Kroon

I was happy to see Ryder Hesjedal doing Canada proud (2nd place).

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