When riders are experiencing pre-season preparations in June, you know that racing is following a strange schedule. This is the state of pro cycling in 2020. So, how will Trek-Segafredo exit lockdown conditions and prepare for our next round of races? It all begins with a few key tests.
This week, Vincenzo Nibali and Elisa Longo Borghini began that process as they underwent detailed fitness evaluation at Mapei Sport Laboratories in Olgiate Olona, Italy. The initial results from the physiological tests are promising shared coach Paolo Slongo, who has supported Nibali and Longo Borghini for many years.
«For June, the results are totally different than data from other years at this time. In a normal season, Vincenzo would have just finished the Giro d’Italia, while Elisa would be on the eve of two important events, the Tour of Britain and Giro Rosa. So fitness tests are producing unique values, but in relation to the goals we have to achieve in the coming months, this is good».
Tests show that the training completed by both Nibali and Longo Borghini during lockdown months achieved an excellent fitness base. Nibali’s last race was mid-March when he finished Paris-Nice. For Longo Borghini, the season hasn’t even begun.
«Vincenzo has values very similar to those he had in March at Paris-Nice as if time had stopped» shared Slongo. «He did excellent work staying in shape. He is where he needs to be to reach his top race condition. Elisa’s test was also very good. Her condition is already well advanced. The approach, for her, will be to alternate specific workloads and rest phases. We want to avoid stressing the body while maintaining good condition, ready to reach the peak».
«With the right finishing preparation, especially in July, we are optimistic that we will be competitive from the very first races» added Josu Larrazabal, Performance Manager of Trek-Segafredo. Less than two months to the re-start of the season, both riders will need to be in peak form soon. Now, the Trek-Segafredo performance team’s work enters a delicate phase: how to shape pre-season training programs at a time of year when the team is usually deep into the racing schedule.
At Mapei Sport, where Nibali and Longo Borghini completed their fitness testing, researchers are curious to see how changes to the racing calendar will affect biometric results.
«We carried out the incremental tests to determine the maximum oxygen consumption and the ventilatory threshold, with the addition of lactate measurement to obtain useful data from a metabolic point of view on lactate capacity and confirmation of the threshold. This information will be the reference for the tests on the road» explained Andrea Morelli, Mapei’s Head of the Movement Analysis Laboratory and Cycling Sector.
«There’s a lot of curiosity to understand how the sudden decrease in the volume of work over a prolonged period could affect the athlete’s data. Vincenzo and Elisa are the first to give us this data, but in the coming weeks, we will have a wider sample when we evaluate all of Trek-Segafredo’s Italian riders. Thanks to the tests, we will understand the post-lockdown fitness level, and we will collect useful data about this extraordinary period» added Morelli.
Normally this time of year, fitness testing would be unimportant because the team is getting real-time data from racing. This year, everything is different, making the partnership with a state-of-the-art sports science facility like Mapei even more critical.
Mapei Sport has more than 20 years of experience analyzing athlete fitness with scientific testing. Trek-Segafredo has partnered with Mapei since 2014 to use critical tools like evaluation tests in the laboratory and road tests during training camps. Mapei also handles the athletic preparation of three riders – Matteo Moschetti, Jacopo Mosca, and Michel Ries.
«It’s a common opinion and difficult to deny that laboratory tests under standardized conditions offer the most reliable results» explained Josu. «Having the support of a state-of-the-art center is essential. Mapei Sport is the best consultant center we can have in cycling, both for its structure and for the enormous amount of experience it has gained in our sport».
«The evaluation tests are one element of our collaboration, but it would be reductive to talk only about those. Mapei Sport provides us with scientific experience and supports us in analyzing possible problems for riders, which is very important when diseases arise whose nature is not immediately understood. They provide light when you’re in the dark about an athlete’s challenge. And this, together with the relationship of mutual trust created over many years of work, is invaluable».
While support for immediate training needs is Mapei Sport’s top service to Trek-Segafredo’s performance team, work on the future is another important area of development.
«Long-term research is an integral part of our work and one of our added values» explained Morelli. «Many champions have come to us. Thanks to the data collected, we can compare their values with those of young talents that Trek-Segafredo considers interesting, monitoring their growth and evolution, in search of tomorrow’s champion».
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