After a period of rest, synonymous with vacations for riders, the season starts at the beginning of December. The whole AG2R CITROËN team starts its winter training camp. The team heads to Spain and the Valencia region for 15 days of intensive training.
Laying the foundations for the season during the preparation camp
The AG2R CITROËN team has set up shop in Gandia, a seaside town in the summer that is deserted in winter. The season has only just begun, but future results will be built in winter.
Any ambitious project requires a solid foundation. Laying the physical and strategic foundations to project your goals.
This first meeting allows us to work on two aspects: the first is athletic, through training, and the second is sporting, where the rider will draw up the calendar for his or her season (objectives) as well as his or her support structure (personalized interview with the sports, medical and performance management).
It's the start of the season.
The performance cell
Performance is based on different areas such as nutrition, physical and mental preparation and equipment. Each area contributes to the building.
The performance unit is composed of four coaches (Alexandre Abel, David Giraud, Stephen Barrett) and a performance director (Jean-Baptiste Quiclet). The team then relies on external experts to provide the skills needed for high-level sport.
The first axis - Nutrition:
Julien Louis, nutritionist, teacher and researcher at the University of Liverpool, (who has played for Liverpool Football Club and the French soccer team) provides training and creates nutritional profiles.
The2nd axis: testing:
Yann Bertron, a data analyst and doctoral student in sports science, is working with the performance unit to evaluate the riders. These results will be analyzed and will help define the preparation strategies for the season.
The3rd axis: physical and mental preparation.
Enzo Birgy, physical trainer of the French Olympic mountain bike team, is in charge of the weight training. This will be the most intense period of the season for the riders.
At the same time, a psychologist and mental trainer conducts interviews and workshops to train and monitor the riders. They will intervene throughout the season.
The4th axis: bike-fitting,
Alexandre Pacot, "bike-fitter", is in charge of optimizing the ergonomics between the rider and his equipment.
The 5th axis: the optimization of the material
Experts from the team's technical partners join the team during the internship. This is an important step in order to optimize the existing needs but also to work on the development of new features.
As you can see, the riders are back to school and are taking a lot of subjects.
How is the preparation course organized?
The course is divided into three blocks to meet the needs of a professional cycling team.
The first block is for communication and marketing. During the first days of the course, the riders combine training and photo and video shoots in order to produce all the needs for the season. The riders are divided in groups and have a time dedicated to this production of contents. This content will be used to feed the communication of the team, riders, partners but also the media.
The2nd block focuses on qualitative work. The objective is to go into detail about the sessions according to the first objectives of the season. The riders will work on strength and velocity, maximum aerobic power (MAP), sprinting or explosiveness sessions.
The3rd and last block of the training course will allow to build up the fundamental base of the rider in order to be enduring throughout the season and to take the periods of race. The sessions are lengthened by a few hours while keeping specific exercises on time trial, back scooter.
How are the training plans of professional riders adapted?
Managing a team of 30 riders requires precise organization and flexibility of resources. Depending on the race schedule or injuries, the riders did not stop the season at the same time. The level is therefore naturally not homogeneous. It is therefore necessary to have an individualized accompaniment during this first meeting.
Before the course:
After a winter break, the riders are reathletizing in consultation with the performance unit and according to their objectives. For example, the riders riders who will participate in the races in Australia will already be well advanced in their preparation to be ready to race in mid-January at World Tour level. Another example is Clément Venturini, who is taking part in ten or so cyclo-cross races in order to reach his first peak of form during the World Championships in Hoogerheide (Netherlands / February 5).
Generally, the riders practice other sports (running, trail, cross-country skiing) or quickly return to cycling for pleasure.
According to the analysis of the month before the arrival of the training course, the performance unit will define the general physical preparation plan.
During the course:
During the course, the riders will perform a series of tests. Through monitoring their physiological values and subjective feedback, the coaches will refine the initial plan.
What are the lessons learned from this first preparation course?
Prepare: Athletes have laid the groundwork and have a good starting point for the season's preparation. Analysis of the data will help refine their preparation.
Accompanying: this first meeting is essential in accompanying and listening to the riders. The team makes sure that the athletes have had time to talk to each other riders, with the staff, in order to start on a good basis.
Adaptation: the training course influences the priorities for the following weeks and allows them to review the construction of their first part of the season.
All we have to do now is wait for the first bib and dream of the next victories.