What are some of the small things that have a big impact in training, which may not necessarily be immediately obvious?
Big impact variables would be how the athlete's approach to that day's training or to that week's training is or had gone. If they are super motivated and they are feeling good and all aspects of their private life are going well too, you'll always get a good training session or a good training week out of that athlete. Having external factors, be they positive or negative, can certainly have a significant impact on training. If a rider is experiencing family problems, their level of training is never going to be that good.
As a coach what gives you the greatest job satisfaction? And what can frustrate you?
What gives me the most satisfaction? It’s definitely seeing an athlete’s progress and happiness with training and racing. It doesn’t matter whether they are purely a domestique who carries bottles, if they are feeling fantastic having their nose in the wind and they're seeing improvements in themselves physically, or if they’re a rider who’s winning a race or winning a Grand Tour. That feeling is the same for every rider as long as that athlete progresses and is happy, then I am happy and this really gives me complete satisfaction in what I am doing. On the other hand, what frustrates me is a lazy athlete or an athlete who thinks he knows everything, questions everything and isn't open to discussion or education. They are often their own worst enemy.
Explain the importance of rest and recovery.
Rest and recovery are probably, for me, some of the most vital metrics in any athlete's training. If you don't rest or you don't recover, you can’t adapt from your current training load and stimulus. However, it is hard for some athletes to rest. They don't often see the benefits and think if they have a day off that they go backwards when actually they won’t. It is during a rest period when typically your adaptation from training occurs. So for me, it is probably the most important metric in an athlete’s training program.
What are the roles and benefits of indoor training, in the overall picture of structured training? Any traps or pitfalls athletes must watch out for there?
Indoor training definitely has its place, and it has its benefits. For example, if an athlete is injured and they can’t go outside, it’s a really good tool to get back to fitness and back to health, as they need to train in a very controlled environment. You can also do other things indoors like focussing on TT positioning. However, there are also some pitfalls. With indoor training, you can’t get a realistic feel of being out riding, how the bike reacts outdoors in the natural environment and situations. You are in such a controlled environment that the experience overall doesn't really transfer to the outside world. If you need to go downhill at speed, you need to actually experience that in real life as opposed to only riding indoors. What I’ve seen is that a lot of these guys who are coming off online platforms have the power, which is fantastic, but they lack the basics such as bunch riding skills and bike handling. So while indoor training is good and has benefits, I do feel that too much of it can have a negative effect on a rider.
Photos: Matthis Waetzel