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Pro tips: get the most out of your training camp

“You don’t have to think of anything, but getting better and getting stronger.”

January 20, 2023

Training camps are simply the best way to bring your cycling fitness to the next level.

Day-to-day efforts and racing are very important, but in order to get the best out of yourself, a camp where all of your time is focused on achieving your goals and having fun is irreplaceable.

Camps punctuate our pros’ seasons. This winter, we had our first one in December in Girona just north of Barcelona. The whole team came together to lay the foundation for 2023. Team EF Coaching’s clients were there too to prepare for their own goals. As the year progresses, we will hold several smaller camps to get ready for specific races.

At the moment, a group is in Mallorca to get fit for our early season campaign in good weather. The classics team will meet in Belgium soon to practise on the cobbles and recon the big northern races. Before the Giro, the Vuelta, and the Tour, our teams will work together at altitude for weeks to bring their fitness to a peak. With the support of our team’s staff, they can go to these camps and direct all of their focus to cycling.

“Training camp is the time when you have everything taken care of for you,” says sports director and Team EF Coaching coach Tejay van Garderen. “You get your laundry done, you have your meals cooked, you get a massage every day, you have a physio there who can help with core work, mechanics there to work on your bike. You just don’t have any of the other stuff of daily life going on, so it is a time when you can train really hard, recover really well, and have everything taken care of for you. You don’t have to think of anything, but getting better and getting stronger.”

Doing so with your teammates doesn’t just build camaraderie. Riding with friends helps you to push your limits.

"Riding bikes is fun, and it should be fun."

- Tejay van Garderen

“Training camp adds that competitiveness that is going to make you push that little bit harder and dig that little bit deeper,” Tejay says. “You can simulate race scenarios where you are not just focused on what the numbers are telling you on the computer but on following the wheel in front of you, whether that is rolling a pace line or racing up a climb or sprinting to a town sign. We are all competitors. We love to race, so if you can bump elbows with some of your buddies, you are going to get more out of the training.”

That also makes the work of getting stronger a lot more enjoyable.

“Riding bikes is fun, and it should be fun,” Tejay says. “We all ride bikes, yeah to stay fit, yeah to be competitive, but also because it is fun, and training camps are a good time! You go there with your buddies, work hard, and just have a blast.”

Face-to-face contact with your coaches is also invaluable. When he was a rider, Tejay always benefited from the feedback he could get from his trainers. Now, as a coach, he sees just how valuable it is to have direct contact with his athletes.

“Whenever we would go to camp there was always something, some sort of insight that the coach would bring up,” he says. “And now, I can analyse a file online, but it is different to actually looking at you on the bike. Sometimes it takes that to see like, oh, the reason that you are having this knee pain is because of this. Maybe, you should tweak this about your position or maybe you should be riding a higher cadence or you seem to be bobbing a little bit when you get over threshold; you need to be working on your core stability. To have that contact and get eyes on the athlete is hugely, hugely beneficial.”

You don’t need to plan a week away in the sun to get those benefits, though our week-long camps sure are awesome. Our riders always travel to key races a few days in advance to train together, recon the route, and plan for the race with feedback from our coaches and directors. Now you can join them. Team EF Coaching is offering sportive riders the same pro treatment at the Strade Bianche, Paris Roubaix, and Tour of Flanders. The Pro Race camps include fully supported course recon training rides ahead of the sportives plus strategy, nutrition and technique coaching to make sure you have the best ride possible. You'll also have VIP treatment at the pro race with guided spectating and exclusive team access.

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