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"The French Championships take place in the Vendée this year, on a course that should suit me, so who knows… But of course the Tour de France is the main goal again."

Photo: Lotto Soudal








29.05.2015 @ 11:47 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

The way to the Tour goes along Tenerife or the Sierra Nevada. Since more than ten years, riders who want to set a good result in July do an altitude training camp. For Tim Wellens it’s his first experience in the south of Spain, Tony Gallopin is here for the fourth consecutive year. Earlier this year they went to Tenerife to prepare for the Ardennes classics together; now they are staying in the Centro de Alto Rendimiento (CAR) for seventeen days, with among other Lotto Soudal rider Bart De Clercq.


The CAR has to be the best for a top sportsman who works towards his goal. Sleeping on an altitude of 2320 metres, sober but descent hotel accommodation, an athletics track, an artificial turf football field, an Olympic pool, an indoor hall, cycling in the mountains or in the valley; all facilities for tens of sports are available. And of course a buffet for the guests, without the all-day temptations.


“We have 88 rooms”, says the sports manager of the CAR. “In 1982 the first part of the accommodation was ready, in 1995 the swimming pool and athletics track were constructed and since 2004 the hotel accommodation is here. Before, the athletes trained here and slept in one of the hotels in the neighbourhood.”


“I like it more here in Sierra Nevada than in Tenerife; all is made for the sportsman here," Wellens said. "Beforehand I had heard some stories about how dull it would be here, but it has been fine so far. It’s nice to see how top sportsman and –women from different disciplines prepare for their goals in the same place. When I get up at seven and the swimmers are already doing their laps in the pool or when I see the women’s cyclists who have meagre wages and still invest in coming here then I admire that.


“This is a motivating environment. The altitude is of course a basic reason why so many sportsmen and –women are here. As a cyclist you can do many climb kilometres, but also train in the valley starting from Granada. I’m here to prepare for my next goal, my first Tour de France. And to be as good as possible in July and accomplish my goal to win a stage, this is definitely worth it. That I’m here in the company of Tony Gallopin, just like in Tenerife is nice of course. We get on well; you can call us ‘bike mates’.”


“After the Ardennes classics I took some rest and went to the south of France with the family for a week," Gallopin said. "This is the fourth consecutive year that I come here in this part of the year. That way I’m building up towards the Dauphiné, the French Championships and the Tour. The Dauphiné will be my first race after this training camp and is not a goal itself. It’s a beautiful race on a high level, but most of the time I need a few days to grow. The French Championships take place in the Vendée this year, on a course that should suit me, so who knows… But of course the Tour de France is the main goal again.


“I have good experiences with altitude training camps on the Sierra Nevada. It’s all about being focused on your goal. The roads are good, the meals are adapted, everyone who is here is focused on his job 100 per cent. You can learn something new about the altitude every year. In any case you need some days to adjust and you can’t train in full right from the start. Year after year you get to know your body better and the proportion between training and recuperation is important.”



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