Starting next Monday, December 8th, the riders of Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team will be busy with the traditional training camp in Oliva (Spain) until the 18th of December. Omega Pharma – Quick-Step Cycling Team began preparations for the 2015 road season with testing at the state-of-the-art Bakala Academy on Thursday afternoon. All Belgian riders, and others such as Czech rider Zdenek Stybar, were tested. Other riders will be tested at training camp with the same equipment to save travel time and energy.
"This is a baseline test for our riders," Omega Pharma – Quick-Step Cycling Team trainer Koen Pelgrim said. "It's the first testing for the new season after two or three weeks of training. We want to see where they are at in terms of condition, if the level is comparable with last year. We will then set personal training zones at for the upcoming training camp. We used an incremental test. They start at an easy load and then in steps of eight minutes it gets harder and harder. We started them with 100 watts and add 40 watts each step. At the end of each block we measure the blood lactate and analyze at which power output and heart rate the lactate starts to increase. In this way we can determine lactate thresholds, the level of the riders and set individual training zones."
"Most of the riders are on the same level or a bit better than last year, which is good to see," Pelgrim said. "All the riders did well. That's promising and shows they did good work at home. They will have good base to start our training camp next week."
Tom Boonen, one of the testing participants, said he enjoys the testing process at Bakala Academy.
"We have this beautiful building with all these facilities, with great equipment and staff who are knowledgable," Boonen said. "They know what they are talking about. They help us get better. Especially with a rider of my age, it's always good to have a different input on your approach to cycling. For me it's a little different than an 18-year-old guy who just started cycling. For me I think this is my 21st year in cycling, and 13th year with the team. So, if you don't know what to do now you will never know. But it is always good to have someone guiding you and have a second pair of eyes. If you always do the same thing you get tunnel vision. It's always better to have two brains working together than one. We have a good approach here at Bakala Academy for not just me, but all riders. Everyone can do a bicycle test with the right equipment and staff. But we have the nutrition center, the testing, and really the complete surrounding to help athletes get better. For young athletes this is really useful. They even have talent scouts who can find you in a small bicycle race and help guide you through your career until you are a professional. I feel that's pretty unique in the world. This facility is available for everyone and useful for everyone."
As for other riders on Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team, they will receive a second cycling performance test later in this season. This will take place either at the second training camp, or after training camp in Belgium.
"We will see the progression they make," Pelgrim. "They will have three or four weeks before most of them start racing, so they can still work on some last details in training. With these tests you can see progression and strong or weak points, so you can adapt the training if necessary. Riders have a general training plan, but a plan needs regular evaluation and if necessary we adjust this plan. If some riders show areas of weakness they need to focus on, or strengths and really good condition that show they can perhaps add in intensity earlier in the buildup for the season."