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Working hard to get back to top shape
Posted on 4/27/2011 10:28:12 AM

Hi readers, here’s a big update as to what has been happening over the last few months. It’s another season with Team Saxo Bank SunGard, and I’ve been working at building my form higher than last year. The aim has been to regain some good fitness and strength again. I’ve been making progress, although things have been a little frustrating lately.

I came back to Italy in November and trained here for a couple of weeks, then went to the first get together of the new team at the end of November, the beginning of December.

To be honest, we didn’t do much riding at that camp. We were there in Fuerteventura for two weeks, at the hotel Playitas, one of our sponsors, and basically we used that time to get to know everyone. There are a lot of new guys, a lot of changes since last year, so it was just a case of getting acquainted.

The camp was certainly different. We did water sports, kite surfing and things like that, and we did a something unusual…they had four clown guys from Denmark. They did a show, and then each group had to do a show themselves. Pretty unusual! They were all little things that you mightn’t expect to be useful to get to know the guys, but they worked well. I think everyone seemed to get on great, we had a good laugh and we enjoyed ourselves. There wasn’t much on-bike training, but it wasn’t important at that time of the year… The end of November and beginning of December doesn’t really matter so much.

After that, it was time to clock up the kilometres. I came back to Italy and put some good work in, went back to the Isle of Man for Christmas and did some more good training there, and then returned to Italy at the beginning of January. Again, it was more training; after a couple of weeks, I went off to Majorca for the first ten day training camp with the team. We put in a really good training block there, 38 hours in nine days.

Because of what happened since the accident, I haven’t been on a training camp in nearly two years. So it was a bit of a shock to the system for me. I got through it and got some good work in, but being at a camp sort of highlighted the points that I needed to go away and still work on.

The plan was for me to start racing in the Majorca Challenge, but the team was having problems with the organisers so it decided not to ride in the end. I don’t know the full details, but one issue was related to Alberto Contador; the organisers were going on about wanting him to ride. Obviously he couldn’t do it as he wasn’t back racing then, so in the end the team said ‘just forget about it, we are not even coming to the race because you keep going on about it.’

Sorting out some breathing issues:

After that, I was due to race in Murcia. We did a training camp beforehand and the team decided to delay my start a bit longer they felt it would be better for me… I did my first race on April 5th in the Hel van Het Mergerland. That wasn’t the best race to start with, it was pretty tough as racing in Holland always is. I just gave what I could…I didn’t do great, I didn’t finish, but saying that, out of 180 guys, only 30 or 40 did complete it.

I was having problems with my breathing during the race… The reason why I went off the back was that I couldn’t maintain threshold level for a long time. My legs were okay, but my breathing wasn’t able to back up how my legs felt. It is hard to explain, but that is what I felt.

We did a VO2 max test after that and it basically just highlighted what I was feeling in the first race. We went for more breathing tests to try to pinpoint exactly what the problem is and how we can solve it.

I think the main problem was not doing anything for so long, just laying in hospital…I had muscle wastage, and everything just went really weak. Basically, it is just going to take time to get better. At the end of the day, you use muscles to breathe…if they are weak, you can’t breathe properly. Legs and muscle strength gets stronger, but the breathing has been slower [to improve] than other parts of the body.

At this point in time we are still going through this period of looking at how we can improve this problem and solve it. We are doing a lot of testing, both on and off the bike… While that is going on, I am not scheduled to race again until Bayern Rundfahrt in a months’ time.

I am just training as normal now. I am just looking forward to this next race. A lot of people are asking me when I’ll be back in competition, maybe getting worried for me and hoping that I will make it back. But at the end of the day some people don’t realise how much my body has actually been through. It is going to take time…it could take a year or two years. But as long as things are moving forward, which they are, then myself and the team are happy. It might not be as fast as some people may think it is, but they don’t know the full ins and outs of what actually went on.

I don’t think it is anything major to worry about, but it would be nice to hear it from a specialist…for him to say ‘it is this, you can cure it or you can improve it by doing this or that. It is normal…’ Just to give that peace of mind, to be able to feel less tense about it.

Thanks for reading,


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