Given the tough conditions faced by riders training through a typical British winter, warm weather training camps are almost essential for today’s UK professionals.
Spanish cycling hot spots such as Mallorca, Calpe and Girona offer generally dry, sunny and warm conditions in which to rack up pre-race season miles in the saddle.
Continental training camp hot spots usually also have far longer climbs than those in the UK on which to build fitness levels and form.
Team training camps also provide the perfect opportunity for riders to test themselves ahead of the first races and get to know each other, both on and off the bike. With equipment from new sponsors such as Zipp 404 wheels and new designs from long time supporters such as Rule28, all the riders were eager to get on the road!
Y Viva España
In February, the Ribble Pro Cycling team took their Ribble Aero 883’s to Calpe on the Costa Blanca in Spain for a ten-day camp.
For many years now, Calpe has been the chosen destination for the majority of the World Tour pro cycling team pre-season camps.
With its quiet, smooth mountain roads and warm, sunny climate, it was the ideal place for the Ribble Pro team ahead of the first major races of the 2018 season.
The training camp schedule comprised of two, three-day training blocks which included a range of structured efforts, with two recovery days, and finally a four-hour ‘race simulation’ session.
The rides would also give the team the opportunity to practise sprint lead-outs, ride as a chain gang and feeding , utilising team car support, to take on board nutritional products from Secret Training.
After a three-hour ride on day one which included three, five minute VO2 max hill repeats and four sprint lead-outs, the first real challenge of the camp came on day two in the form of a 20 minute all out FTP test effort.
BUT with a catch!
Riders would set off at 15-second intervals based on their power numbers from the previous day’s session.
This meant that not only did each rider have a ‘carrot’ to chase ahead of them, but they too were being chased by a teammate behind them.
The results of the test were very promising. Most of the squad produced personal best 20-minute power numbers, the strongest of which are considered as world class.
A long endurance ride rounded out the first, three-day block of the training camp.
Riders were rewarded on the ‘rest day’ with a relaxing spin along the coast to a local coffee shop run by a roasting company. Good coffee (and maybe some cake) is high on the priorities list of most riders!
The second block of the training camp began with a gruelling series of intervals forming part of a three-hour ride.
Using a local climb the riders performed a series of high-intensity interval sessions.
Riding 30 seconds ‘on’ and 30 seconds ‘off’ for ten minutes is tough but doing this three times is a horrible, especially when the ride is three hours long.
This was backed up the next day by a solid four-hour training ride which included four, ten-minute sweet spot hill repeats.
These sweet spot sessions aim to build the riders’ threshold power ability.
“As we came to the end of the second block, we all started to feel the training stress. We were ready for the rest day.”
The final day of the block saw the team really empty the tank over five hours over some tough Spanish terrain.
The ride culminated in a long chaingang effort and a classic town sign sprint (would any British training camp be complete without one?).
After a slightly chillier recovery spin north along the coast road to a cafe in Moraira, the riders rolled out for a final, four-hour race simulation ride.
Kitted out in full race equipment including their new Giro Vanquish helmets, Santini skin suits and Rule28 aero socks, the ride tested both the riders kit and legs.
“The team averaged 40kph over the four hours of rolling terrain which saw more than 2,000m of climbing accumulated.”
All Good Things
With that, the training camp had reached its conclusion, and the riders flew home to begin their race campaigns and add the finishing touches to their training preparations.
In total, the Aero 883 Team Bikes were ridden 970km in 27 hours. The riders left in excellent condition and highly motivated to pin a number on and kick off the 2018 race season.
We can’t wait for what is surely set to be a great year for Ribble Pro Cycling’s riders, staff and sponsors, so stay tuned!