LEO PAEZ, WINNER OF THE HERO 2012 AND 2013 AND HIS TEAM MATE TONY LONGO, THEY OF THE I.IDRO DRAINBIANCHI TEAM RETURNED TO THE DOLOMITES AREA IN AUGUST 2013 TO PERFECT SOME HIGH ALTITUDE TRAINING AT PASSO SELLA AND OVER THE HERO ROUTE. AND THEY LET US IN ON SOME SECRETS …
1. Which place have you chosen for the training period…?
We are up at Passo Sella in the Dolomites for a 2 week training period. We are getting ready for the next important races – including the HERO Südtirol Dolomites and the other international marathons, and we are trying to make the most of training at 2,250m and the variety of routes this area offers.
2. What are the benefits of high altitude training?
There are many benefits of high altitude training, but above all the production of red blood cells is vital, important too is the improvement in aerobic capacity and general oxygen movement, and not to forget is that in this period and being high up we manage to avoid the intense heat and clam in the lower valley floors.
3. For how long is it best to stay at a high altitude and why such period?
It’s best to stay at a high altitude for a minimum of 10 days but better again if it is 2 weeks or more. During this time we will follow the programme prepared by our trainer and change between mtb and road bike.
4. Does the landscape contribute in any way to your training?
In this Dolomites area there are many magnificent views, some of which we have become accustomed to in our biking exploits and which we see again in these wonderful sunny days. Certainly our sport brings us in close contact with nature and it almost becomes part of us and it definitely helps to ease the fatigue. Surely it is preferable to pedal along these magnificent trails even in our training period and of course the calm and beauty of the place also helps us to relax and rest.
5. How is your actual training at altitude?
Carbohydrates are very important becauseCarbohydrates are very important because for us they are like petrol, but also important is protein and especially so at high altitude when there is muscle tiredness and risk of cramp. 3 meals sustain us throughout the day. A good plentiful breakfast at 8.00 if we intend to train hard or if there is a race we make sure breakfast is always 3 hours before the start. At breakfast we try and take in a lot of carbohydrates – yogurt, cereals, bread, jam and some protein such as ham. After training lunch is generally pasta or rice based with some protein too, and dinner is protein based with a choice of fish or meat. If there is a race the day after we also have some pasta at dinner. If it is a less intense training period we reduce the amount of carbohydrates and the size of the portions in general.
6. What is it best to eat the day before a race …?
The day before a demanding marathon we top up with carbohydrates by having lots of simple plain pasta for lunch and dinner.
7. How many calories do you take in when preparing for a marathon such as the HERO?
In a marathon such as the HERO Südtirol Dolomites you consume about 4,000 calories and therefore it is important to take in carbohydrates in quantity in the days leading up to the race and of course consumption of food and drink during the race itself is important.
8. How do you build up your training in preparation for a race?
For a professional biker the training starts right back in winter. Behind our results and successes there are months and months of hard work. Every athlete works in a particular way trying to arrive for the day of the race in the best possible condition. We pay great attention to our physical preparation and rest is important too, and from this year we are giving greater considertation to our diet in general. Also we are quite fussy about the condition of our bike, for after all it is our work tool, and we ensure that it is always in top working order.
9. How important is mental preparation in cycling?
The mental side of things is fundamental and especially so in mtb. Almost 50% of the performance comes from the mental side as a lot of it really is in the head.
10. How much time do you dedicate to the mental side of things in preparation terms?
We don’t carry out a specific element of mental training but the day before a race a detailed analysis begins and we focus on the race, perhaps running it through in our minds, going over the route layout, thinking of how best to approach it, planning the best time to attack, and even deciding where to take in refreshments during the race.
11. How important is the attention of the media for the sport of mountain bike?
In a sport such as ours with no great coverage the relationship we athletes have with the media is essential and fundamental to encourage its growth. We try and have a close and open relationship with the media and as we are the actors on the stage it is important to interact with the jouralists as much as possible, although in the period immediately before the race start concentration is the priority.
12. What part can the team play in determining the individual result?
Teamwork is everything for if you are not supported by the team it is difficult to achive important results. Good teams create a sense of calm for the individual and are a force for motivation and the compactness of the team is a critical element too.
13. how would you describe a successful team?
A great team is characterised by its organisation and the componet parts as represented by the team manager, the mechanic, and the masseur are all vital cogs in th overall performance. We know that we need only concentrate on the racing and give 100% of ourselves during the race, and the rest needs to be in the safe hands of the team. It is indispensable to have a good team behind us and whichin every sense is always giving its best.
14. Leader or support rider. How do you decide the strategy?
Team strategy for the race is important and we team members often help each other during the race so that one of us can come out victorious. Strategy for the race itself is usually decided the day before the start togehter with the team manager but there is also an important element of strategy in the race itself when we decide tactics depending on how the race is going and how we as individuals are feeling.