Training - Part - Interview de Stephen Barrett - Equipe cycliste AG2R La Mondiale

Training – Part – Interview de Stephen Barrett

What are the main goals in this situation ?

But generally, what we try to do with the team is

1- To minimize too much loss of condition. The guys have worked quite hard in the pre-season and the first months of the season to built up a condition. A number of riders are in a good condition right now. So de-conditionning is normal but we try to minimize that as much as we can.
2- The second point is really unique as we have time for the riders. It’s very rare for a professional cyclist to have all this uninterrupted lack of time as you don’t have to travel, no training camps, don’t have races, so you can really focus on improving yourself individually.

How have you prepared training plans?

So how we look at it is, instead of doing a generic training plan, you can look at each rider individually and see what areas they want to improve on themselves. It’s a really nice way to motivate somebody. Because now the biggest issue is the motivation. There’s no date for the next race. So if you can develop a programme that is individually focused, it increases motivation.

So with some riders, they want to work more on force, some on their pace and pedaling efficiency. Training indoor really allows you to get If you train on a home trainer for a hour, a hour and half. It’s continuous pedaling while when you’re on the road, you have stop lights, interceptions, you free wheel. So it’s a really efficient way to get a lot of work done.

Some riders do 2 home trainer training session per day. One in the morning time before breakfast. The idea here is to improve your metabiotic efficiency at an intensity calling Zone 2, you increase your body ability to use more fat as a fuel and you become more efficient. And then they will do a 2nd training session the same day with a little bit more intensity and then we can guess two distinct body adaptation. That’s why you see lots professional doing 2 sessions the same day.

How do riders work on their core strength?

The other aspect we look at is what you call in France « musculation ». Strenght and core exercices. For me it’s an area, I’m quite passionate about. Gym training should be look on how we can translate that to cycling.

So for me as a coach, I look at gym training in 2 different ways. We can split the body into upper body and lower body.

Lower body : The emphasis is to produce force which is what we need to do on a bike.

Upper body : The purpose of upper body when you ride bikes, is to resist force. So we’ll do lots of exercice of resisting different forces So we try to prevent an excess of rotation in our upper body, excess of extension.

Because what happens where you ride your bike for 5 or 6 hours, if your lower back gets tired, you’re going to flex more the shoulders and it makes it quite inefficient on the bike So the exercice that I have prepared for the rider is very focused on being isometric strong in the upper body, preventing rotations. So we do side plank, exercices with resistance and external forces.

Why is it important?

These exercices translate well to cycling when you think of Paris-Roubaix for instance, the most efficient bike riders generally have the more stable upper body. So you can produce force for a longer period of time. It’s not just the legs that get tired in those races but also the upper body gets tired. Then it’s quite inefficient to transfer power to the bike.

How do you keep in touch with riders ?

A few years ago, we would have used a phone call or text message. Now we have whatsapp , Video call, conference call. A good way to communicate with the rider is through video call. I find video call more personal You can see the person, the body language, It’s easier to get a sense of how they’re feeling. You can speak to 20 guys at once. I have prepared video that the guys can watch and replicate themselves. Something visual is always more effective to maximize communication. You may have the best training programm, if it’s not communicate effectively, it’s not useful.