Interview with Rafał Majka: "Motivation is the key"
After a strong start to the season, with fifth place in the UAE Tour general classification, BORA-hansgrohe rider Rafał Majka was ready to cause quite the sensation at the Giro d’Italia. We talked to the 30-year-old about the current situation in cycling and how he is maintaining his fitness.
Rafal, the international racing calendar is currently on hiatus. How do you feel about this situation?
Rafal Majka: I’m at home in Poland at the moment and I am trying to make the best out of the situation. That means that I’m doing a lot of things that I’d otherwise not have time for during the season. So when I'm not training, I spend a lot of time with my family, play with my daughter, work in the garden, or simply take some time to enjoy the spring sun.
You would now be at the altitude training camp preparing for the Giro d'Italia, right?
Majka: That's right, the Giro was my big goal for the first half of the season. My entire preparation was focused on that, and after the altitude training camp, I would have gone to the Tour of the Alps. Since there is currently a break in racing, and it’s not clear when the Giro will be held, I’ve had to change my training.
What does your current training regime look like?
Majka: In Poland, the regulations are very strict, but as a professional athlete I am still allowed to go out for training. I usually ride for three and a half to five hours. At the moment it's just a matter of keeping the legs moving and preserving my shape. I see this break as a type of extended winter break. The season will most likely go much longer into autumn and maybe even into winter - so it makes sense not to push yourself too hard during training now.
You said that the Giro was your first big goal. Is it difficult to motivate yourself if it's not clear when the season will re-start?
Majka: It;s certainly not easy to stay focused. But in any event, I get most of my motivation from cycling itself. By keeping my daily training routines, I can cope with the situation quite well. It would certainly be more difficult if cycling outdoors would no longer be allowed. Then things would look different. But all riders have to cope with these conditions now.
You've already won stages in the Tour de France and were on the podium at the Vuelta. Do you think that your extended experience as a pro rider will help you to get through this situation better?
Majka: That’s a hard question. In principle, every pro rider is in the same boat, whether they’re young or experienced. The key to getting through this break is personal motivation. Because as soon as your mind isn’t in the right place, your form will suffers as well. But if you compare young and experienced cyclists, younger athletes have the advantage that they can get back into shape faster after the break. Fortunately, I'm not old yet, so that shouldn't be a problem for me either [laughs].
What training tip do you have for hobby and amateur cyclists among BORA-hansgrohe’s fan base?
Majka: The most important thing right now is to avoid overdoing it. If you’re allowed to train outside, I recommend doing relaxed rides, so you don't take risks. If you train indoors, you should ride varied sessions on the smart trainer. This is also a good opportunity to do stretching exercises, which many athletes usually miss out on during the season. And in summer, when the restrictions will hopefully be over, you can go all out.
Rafal, thank you very much for the interview!