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“The riders get to undergo a condition test three times in one season; at the beginning of December, at the beginning of January and once during the season before an important race or period."

Photo: A.S.O.




09.12.2015 @ 09:00 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Since November, the new establishment of Energy Lab Ghent has been open to the public. In the Ghelamco Arena, Lotto Soudal riders do physical tests to see how good their form is. As usual, the riders do a fitness test on the bike but they also get a Dexa scan so their body is mapped completely. Based on these results, the riders get an individual training programme for the upcoming weeks. Wim Van Hoolst, Energy Lab coach and physical coach of Lotto Soudal, led the tests and gave professional comments.


The most important test is the fitness test on the bicycle. During this test the resistance is progressively increased each five minutes. At the end of every effort, a small blood sample is taken so the concentration of lactate can be measured. On the basis of the amount of lactate there is in the blood at a certain effort, the coach can perfectly determine the training zones. The wattage, heart rate, fatigue rate, lactate production and basic endurance are measured and analysed during and after this test.


“The riders get to undergo a condition test three times in one season; at the beginning of December, at the beginning of January and once during the season before an important race or period," Van Hoolst said. "We do three tests because the condition of the riders improves a lot during December; this can differ up to 40 watt. All the riders start at 100 watt and every five minutes we increase the resistance with 40 watt. Each five minutes, a blood sample is taken to measure the amount of lactate. At the end of the test, we have a perfect view of the riders’ form and when they begin to produce lactate. Afterwards, we analyse the results and determine the heart rate zones and wattage zones. The riders can work with these figures during their training rides.


“A professional athlete has an aerobe threshold, anaerobe threshold and maximal performance wattage of around 4, 5 and 6 watt per kilogram body mass. On the basis of these values, the different heart rate zones can be calculated for all the training types. The results are always discussed with the riders. Also the heart rate and power zones get adjusted in the training schedule. Most Lotto Soudal riders are individually followed by Energy Lab and corrected when necessary. Some riders have their own coach, in such a situation there’s a joint meeting to determine the training schedule so that every rider of the team can be followed daily.”


Tiesj Benoot is one of the riders who has undergone the tests.


“In the past, I didn’t look forward to these tests, but now it’s better," he said. "I’m very interested in the scientific explanation behind the test results and spend the necessary attention to it. As a professional rider, you need to know what your body can do. These tests give a good view of that and they are an indicator for the coming season. As a young rider, it’s nice to compare the current tests with those from the past; every year I do better and this proves that the hard work pays off.


"In cooperation with my personal trainer, Energy Lab follows what I’m doing and together they determine my training schedule for the upcoming weeks. During the training camp in December, we make sure that we train in those wattage and heart rate zones during the training rides. Without these tests, we wouldn’t train perfectly when we have to do power intervals or intensive training rides. The current cycling gets more scientific and because of this, these tests are crucial.”


Almost all the Lotto Soudal riders did their test in Energy Lab Paal, Ghent and Eindhoven. With their adjusted training zones, the riders can start to work during the training camp in Mallorca. The foreign riders – Adam Hansen, Greg Henderson, Rafael Valls, Tomasz Marczynski and Tony Gallopin – will be tested on the first day of the training camp.



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