Matt’s post-race treat – not
Last week I asked for some help and ideas for some stuff to write about in my blog. I got a few pretty good questions and will try my best to answer them below in this week’s blog!
Q: What is your diet like whilst training?
A: This is quite a tough one to answer, it really depends on what I’m doing, what I’ve done and what I’ve got coming up so I’ll give you a set of examples.
Rest & Recovery day – Obviously on these days I won’t be riding my bike much, if at all so I won’t really need to eat too much but its pretty important that I’m eating the right stuff, which is usually some good protein and a little bit of good carbs and lots of fruit and veg. I’ll normally start the day with a good breakfast of a bowl of porridge and a banana along with normally a few mandatory espressos to serve my addiction! Not sure if the coffee is a good thing but I can’t go without it! Lunch will typically be some sort of salad with some good protein (normally 20g) from tuna or something similar. I’ll also have a few rice crackers or a bit of bread. Late afternoon and I’m normally feeling pretty hungry so I’ll snack on a piece of fruit and some yoghurt. Dinner is typically again some good protein (steak / chicken) and a plate full of veg or salad. On rest days I try to limit the carbs in the evenings if I can.
Pre-Race day – Before a race is normally pretty similar to a rest day, making sure I’ve replaced the calories I’ve used up in the days training depending on what ive done on the bike.
Race day / heavy training day – Breakfast is again the same old bowl of porridge or muesli, I try to eat as close to 3hrs before the race as possible. Next I’ll snack on some sort of energy bar about 45 mins to 1hr before the race. When the race is underway I’ll try to eat 50g of carbs every hour, usually starting with bars and finishing with gels. I normally have a bit of carbs and electrolytes in my bottles too. In the last 30-40kms, depending on the race situation, I’ll also have around 150-200mg of caffeine. After the race I’ll have a recovery drink asap. This is always ready waiting for us on the bus so it’s pretty easy to get into us directly after we finish. Depending on whether I’ve had a chance to eat properly in the race I’ll sometimes have a sandwich or a few carbs around 1hr after the race. If I’ve eaten correctly in the race I normally won’t bother. Next up is again the typical 20g protein, 50g of carbs for dinner with some veg, salad and fruit.
You would think being a bike rider and spending most of our lives burning calories that we don’t really need to worry about what we eat. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Our bodies get used to surviving on limited calories and become quite efficient. So unfortunately we don’t actually need to eat that much !
Q: Do you feel under a lot of pressure when racing for HTC-Highroad because they’re such a big team? Did it help you settle in knowing Cav when you signed for the team?
A: Yes, the pressure is definitely more than before. Its not often that we start a race without the goal of winning. There are so many strong riders in the team that there is always somebody capable of winning so every race the pressure is on us to perform. Knowing Cav helped a little in the first few days with the team but, to be honest, there all such a good group of guys it was pretty easy to fit in and get along with everyone right from the start of things at the first training camp in California.
Q: What do you honestly feel about the groupsets you are forced to ride, and do Rotor chainrings [non-circular – ed.] really make any difference?
A: I can honestly say ( and this isn’t a marketing plug for Shimano ) that I think Di2 is the biggest and best innovation in cycling equipment since I have started cycling. Why?, you will ask. Quite simply because it works, and it works perfectly! Ive never had a groupset that I’ve not had to fiddle with at the start of every race, adjusting cables and messing round with gears. It just doesn’t happen with this stuff, it works so well and needs no maintenance whatsoever. I’ve had my training bike (equipped with Di2) at home now since December last year. Ive charged my battery three times since then and never had any problems, and I ride my bike a lot! On the TT bike there are two places to shift, so whether you’re accelerating out of a corner and needing to shift down or you’re on the “skis” and want to stay aero, you can always shift with ease. On the Roubaix bikes you can shift on the drops, the hoods and with the hands on the tops over the cobbles. Perfect, just perfect! The list goes on! I’ve never used Rotor rings so can’t comment!
Q: You rode a lot of the big Classics; do you think they are races you will aim for in the future? What direction do you see your career taking?
A: Yes for sure, races like Gent Wevelgem and Roubaix is what I live for. Ive always dreamed of riding those type of races and after being competitive in them this year and riding pretty good, its definitely where I’m going to focus a big part of my career. The later Ardennes classics are another story, hopefully I’ll never see them again!!
Q: What advice would you give to a young rider who dreams of being a pro?
A: Just not to give up. I’ve seen so many guys with so much talent who give up too early. It takes some people (me for example) a lot longer than others to progress and make that step up. I believe that with just a small bit of talent, if you have enough belief and you really really want it you can make it to the Pro ranks! I mean, if I can do it it can’t be that hard, right??
Q: What do you think your best qualities are as a rider? And how do you work to improve your weaknesses? (ie. what training do you do)
A: I think the races in Belgium suit me best, the early season classics in the shitty weather is where I thrive. I also think I’m ok at riding in the bunch and fighting for position so I like getting stuck into a leadout every now and then. My weaknesses?? I don’t have any… Joke. At the moment I’m still struggling with a few niggles from my accident so I have a few things I still need to work on pretty hard. I do a little bit of physio and core training every single day. On the bike I try to ride my Powercranks once or twice a week to try to build up my dodgy hips to what they once were.
Q: What has been the highlight of the season so far?
A: Paris Roubaix, for sure. Ive said it so many times already in so many interviews, I absolutely loved every second of it. Even if it was a bit of a disaster and a disappointing day, I made it to the velodrome and actually felt pretty good for most of the day. Its given me so much hunger to be successful in that race in the future.