Team Virtu is amongst the best women’s teams in the world. Currently holding 3rd place in the UCI Women´s World Tour ranking, 8th place in the World ranking and with consistently strong results in this year’s spring season, they show impressive performance.
We wanted to know where this performance comes from and how SRM contributes to their success.
So, we had a chat with the team coach Carmen Small and three of the team riders: Rachel Neylan, Anouska Koster and Marta Bastianelli.
Good training is imperative to good results. Nobody will ever question that. But what is good training? What tools and techniques will ensure the best training results?
Virtu Team coach Carmen Small explained to us how she prepares her team for the season:
Carmen finds her riders to be very different from each other. As a result, she must develop individual training plans for each athlete.
Her first step is to figure out the strong and weak points of each rider. This begins with threshold tests and continues with data analysis over the season. From there, coach and rider can make up a training plan that not only targets to mitigate the weak points but also improves on the rider’s strengths.
During analysis, Carmen and her riders look at how the athletes’ bodies react to different workloads and scenarios. This is done to find out how the body reacts to altitude or temperature changes and what influence this has on the heartrate’s response to power output and overall energy expenditure.
Knowing strong and weak points of all the riders in the team is crucial to create a plan for the race that maximizes the overall team result.
SRM plays a vital role for the team in performing the analysis, constructing plans, and performing the training. Carmen especially emphasizes the importance of the reliability of the data:
“I think this point is actually the most crucial because not only can these numbers effect you physically, they can also effect you mentally. It is really important that your power meter works consistently and accurately both for the coach and for the athlete. I am so happy we are part of the SRM family and their power meter is far superior to anyone else.” (Carmen Small)
Of course, there are no points to win in training. During the race riders cannot go all out all the time but must pace their efforts to come up with the best result. Also, a careful preparation just before each race is very important.
Virtu riders Marta Bastianelli, Anouska Koster and Rachel Neylan explained to us how they pace their efforts before and during the race.
Anouska for example uses intervals to warm up before a race. These can be short intervals such as 30sec or longer ones of up to 6 minutes. Having reliable and repeatable data from the SRM ensures that the preparation from training is repeated in the vital preparation before the hard effort of a race.
Rachel says that “Accurate numbers are critical to be able to correctly prepare the body for an all-out effort.”
During the race it is all about putting in the highest sustainable performance. The Team Virtu riders have different ways to find out were they stand during a race. Anouska for example prefers to follow her feeling whereas Rachel emphasizes the importance of accurate numbers to “monitor and pace an all out effort”.
Again, monitoring heartrate and power output gives good indications of where the athlete stands. Rachel also mentions that for long races looking at the kilo joules used per hour is an easy way to find out how much energy was used and when you must eat.
After the race is just as important as before the race. Riders and coach will review and analyze their data to compare with training and make adjustments to the athlete’s program.
The Virtu riders also gave us some training tips to pass along to you:
“Start with some endurance training and after that it is good to put in also some interval training. For example: some short and longer blocks of several minutes. And be sure to take your recovery days in between the training days. Or when you need more recovery, its sometimes good to take more rest when needed.”
“Obviously, the SRM helps you a lot but the important thing is always good legs and mind power and confidence.”
Thanks to Carmen, Rachel, Marta and Anouska from Team Virtu for their insights. After a great start this Spring, we wish them the very best for the rest of the season.