After a long preseason, our debut in the 2020 season is just around the corner. However, the tuning for the season started way back, during the month of November our riders gather in Eindhoven for our annual team building camp, and visited the Cycling Performance Centre. There they underwent different types of testing sessions. “The reason we wanted to test the riders in November was that we want to map out every rider completely. We started with the anthropomorphize and the body composition of each rider. We checked the weight and fat percentage as this is still a determining factor in cycling. By measuring this several times all season long, the cyclists are monitored throughout the season and over the years” highlights CPC’s scientist, Lars Vandeweerdt. 

From a scientific point of view, the goal of testing the riders before the preparations for the season start was, first of all, to make sure that all our talents can practice the sport in a responsible way. Once that was clear, the next step was to set a monitoring plan in which they can map the health progress of each of our riders throughout the season. Vandeweerdt explains the process: 

“First, we made an electrocardiogram at rest. The heart was thoroughly checked to make sure that the cyclists can practice the sport in a responsible way. Furthermore, we examined the functioning of the lungs and the riders were subjected to a physical examination. We checked the functioning of the joints and the muscles. This was particularly important in order to obtain an overview of risk factors for possible injuries so they could be taken into account. Once the health part was checked and the athletes were declared healthy, we shifted our testing focus to the performance side, so the coaches at the SEG Racing Academy and CyclingLab could work with the results and draw up an individual plan for each cyclist. In this second phase of testing we focused on VO2 Max, which indicated the athletes’ stamina, and we tested their aerobic and anaerobic threshold. We wanted to know the intensity at which these thresholds are set, so then we could specify the training zones for each cyclist. The last point we looked into was fat oxidation, which will be important during the season not only for weight management but also for improving performance by improving the aerobic capacity”. 

Getting all this information and data at that point of the season was largely helpful for our Performance Staff. Thanks to the work done at CPC they were able to trace a tailor-made plans for each rider, targeting specific races and looking to achieve personal performance goals. Maarten van Kooij, Performance Coach at CyclingLab and SEG Racing Academy, shares his take on why this extensive testing process that the Academy talents undergo in the off-season was really valuable from a coaching point of view.  

“The exercise tests in November had a clear goal, and it was to get a good picture of the training status of a rider. We could use these tests to make a new, individual and specific training plan for the upcoming period based on the goals that each rider will have. We wanted to create a metabolic profile for each of them. Everyone has an aerobic and anaerobic capacity, so thanks to all the information we could map this through lactate measurement. Thanks to the results that we got from CPC we could look for the lactate thresholds and associate it with heart rates and intensity”. 

However, collecting all the data of the November tests and personalize each rider’s training program is not the last step, in fact is just the starting point. Our Performance Staff and the scientists at CPC will keep on working together during the season with regular testing so they have a more extensive monitoring of each rider’s performance. “Depending on the goals that a rider has, we can prepare a better training plan. By continuing to test regularly, we see how a rider reacts to the prescribed training sessions and we can make adjustments. It is therefore important to keep a close eye on how someone trains, the intensity, the frequency … So if there’s any matter that needs to be addressed we can catch it in time” concludes van Kooij.