In preparation for this year’s l’Etape du Tour we’ve headed for a week of hard training in the hilly and windy climate of Lanzarote – well, that and some glorious sunshine.
So, for now, here’s how we’ve spent the first few days of our training camp, there will be more pictures to follow, so keep an eye out for our photo gallery over the next few days.
Day 1 – 40kms
Time to shake down the bikes and start the training. Lanzarote is windy and
desolate. But it’s a warm and a suitably quick spin up from La Santa to the village.
There are several experts out on this Sporting Tours International Etape
training week, all designated a particular role in the party. Tim Lawson from
Science in Sport, the cycling coach Joe Beer, Andy Cook from British Cycling
and the former Tour de France rider Malcolm Elliott. The intention of the
camp is to ready the riders for the build up to l’Etape du Tour in July. And it’s perfect training as you
can’t really go anywhere in Lanzarote without going up hill or into the
wind, so the riding is always going to be challenging.
Day 2 – 80kms
There’s 60ish riders on the trip so there needs to be 4 groups made up. La
Santa employs several very handy riders to escort the groups at a suitable
pace and everyone is catered for. Everything is explained by Andy Cook and
group riding fundamentals are ran through so those who are new to road riding get the basics.
the climb over Fire Mountain and a loop of El Gulfo before re-tracing over
fire mountain and back to La Santa. The groups have been staggered a little
and the faster group sent for further loops so that we all meet at suitable
rendez-vous at about the same time. There’s a support car with food and
water too – it’s all very well organised.
Day 3 – 115kms
A fairly gentle start and a roll out along (relatively) flatter roads
towards the brutally steep climb of Femes, there’s certainly nothing gentle
about this climb though, with the final metres kicking up to well over 20%. But
it’s a lovely day and certainly a lot warmer than the training has been in
the UK lately. After lunch at the top of the climb and a further 30 or so
kilometres we reach La Santa with fresh legs, so when two of the faster
groups come together in the closing kilometres there’s a bit of a burn-up
into the La Santa complex.
Day 4 – 115kms (or 160kms)
A longer day is planned for today. Before we go anywhere a minute’s silence
and black armbands are worn in tribute to the Rhyl CC. Today the groups are
changed around a bit to allow faster riders to move up a group and to equal
out the numbers. The pace is still pretty steady for the first few. The
highlight of today’s excursion is the climb of Tabayesco. It’s 10 kms from
the bottom to the top. We’re told that 30 minutes is good, 25 is very good
and 22 is pro-contract time… so the whole group set off at a ludicrous
pace to try to secure a season with CSC. Fortunately a few have a more
sensible approach and treat the climb with the respect it deserves.
windy and steep but not so much that the Rabobank riders we’ve seen out
training can’t do it two or three times. Dean Downing (who’s out here too) manages
about 25 minutes and, although he already has a pro contract, the guides are
suitably impressed with all our efforts on a very hard day. Apparently,
Bjarne Riis has ridden up this climb with one leg, and he also broke the 22
minute barrier the year he won the Tour de France. Needless to say I needed
both legs and CSC won’t be after me this year. The remainder of the ride
back to La Santa is pretty easy (mostly downhill) but then for some stupid
reason a few of us decide the best option is an extra two hours with Deano
and Malcolm… 100 miles in the day and a few pairs of very sore legs…
More to follow, we’ll be riding the Lanzarote Ironman course on Tuesday
(170kms) so that should be fun!?
Look out for more photos and reports later this week…