Interview with Head Coach Dan Lorang: "It doesn’t just depend on the training. It's also about mental strength."
The Coronavirus has the world under its grasp – and the cycling world with it too. Several races have now been cancelled because of the risk of infection. And there is still uncertainty surrounding when and how the season will continue. This is an uncertainty that poses a particular challenge for riders and coaches alike. We talked with sports scientist Dan Lorang, Head Coach at BORA - hansgrohe, about how the team’s riders are currently training, and how they are maintaining fitness without any concrete season goals.
Dan, as Head Coach, you have responsibility for the BORA – hansgrohe riders’ training. How do you see the current developments in cycling with regards to the Coronavirus?
Lorang: I was at altitude training camp in Sierra Nevada with Jay McCarthy and Lennard Kämna when the travel restrictions commenced. We had only flown out on Monday. The most difficult thing for us now as a team is definitely that nobody knows exactly when and how we will continue.
A number of races have been cancelled due to the pandemic. It’s currently not clear when the race calendar will continue. How do you deal with this issue in terms of training?
Lorang: There are several aspects that need to be taken into account. One is the aspect of physical performance, which has to be maintained. However, there is also a huge mental component present. After all, training without a goal is not necessarily easy for every professional - and without a structured schedule, the daily routines tend to break down. This is certainly the biggest challenge that we’re facing at the moment.
How are the riders currently keeping fit?
Lorang: In concrete terms, the training that they are doing is similar to winter training. For example, we have had very good experience with what’s called polarized training, which is a combination of low-intensity, long endurance units and highly intensive, short training intervals. Of course, this only applies as long as you can still ride outside.
You’re referring to the curfews that are being introduced in more and more countries. In Italy and Spain, riding outside is no longer allowed. What happens if a rider’s entire training is conducted indoors?
Lorang: This, of course, makes a big dent into training plans. And this is where the mental component comes into play even more. Not every pro enjoys sitting on the rollers for hours on end. Others have no problem with it, because they consider it to simply be part of their profession. We will approach this situation carefully and make the training more entertaining. This can take the form of particular training tasks and intervals, but also mixing things up with working on pedalling technique, for example. Essentially, riders who can cope with this situation better than others could definitely gain an advantage later in the season. That’s why we’re supporting our riders to the best of our ability in this respect.
BORA - hansgrohe has 27 riders from nine different nations. How do you deal with the situation that your riders live in different countries, where there are now different training conditions?
Lorang: We take a very individual approach to this issue. In spite of the restrictions, it is important that everyone is at home with their families. It wouldn't make sense to bring Italian riders to Germany at the moment, because we don't know how long this situation will last. As soon as it improves, however, joint training camps are certainly an option. We trust the health authorities of the riders’ different countries and are acting according to their guidelines. As this is a very dynamic event, we are also constantly evaluating the situation further.
If racing should be resumed regularly, how quickly will the riders be ready to jump into competition? Will this be a seamless transition from their currently style of training or will it require a specific type of race preparation?
Lorang: If we know when the races will commence again, a preparation time of 3-4 weeks would be ideal. In this period, we would focus the training on more specific aspects once again, to hopefully aid us in achieving the best possible performances in the races. Albeit not under optimal conditions, the riders are now on a level that would allow them to put in good performances, should this be necessary on only short notice.
Dan, thanks very much for the interview!