How are the pros dealing with the mental strain of being stuck in their homes? What do they do when they can’t train? What music do they listen to? We talked to team Sunweb’s coach Luke Roberts and he shared some of their tactics with us.
The team has weekly video calls to keep riders motivated
“We created smaller working groups where we would be holding regular weekly video meetings. We would work on a specific race or teamwork-related things. I have taken on a group of seven riders who focus on sprinting. I give them homework during the week like looking back through video footage to try to identify different tactics to keep their minds still active and thinking about racing and to have regular contact with teammates. And it seems to be working well, our riders are actually looking forward to these sessions,” said Luke Roberts.
What do the riders do when they can’t train?
“When I ask my riders what they have for hobbies almost all of them mention coffee. Whether that’s drinking coffee or making it themselves. A lot of them have quite expensive espresso machines at home,” laughed Luke Roberts. So, it seems that the rumours are true, the more cycling you do, the more you learn to love coffee. Another popular hobby was racing simulators. One Sunweb team rider apparently has a full Formula 1 simulator setup at home.”
A healthy diet at home
“During the world tour stage races, we have a cook with us and a kitchen truck. At home, the nutritionist would give guidelines and suggestions for meals. But it’s left up to the riders in training to choose their meals,” explains Luke Roberts. There’s a lot of wholegrain and spelt pasta, rice, and couscous when it comes to carbs and mostly chicken and fish with some red meat for protein.
Agreeing on music is tricky
“Music is a tricky one. During stage races when we are travelling on the bus, the riders may appoint someone the DJ. This honour is usually given to the guy who has the most non-conflicting taste in music, not necessarily to the one who has the best taste in music. With some races, we will even drive to the start in silence,” said Luke Roberts. When pressed for detail, he said that Justin Bieber songs usually get riders fired from the DJ job pretty quickly. But there was one guy who managed to keep the DJ status. “Simon Geschke was really good at this job. The songs he played were 10-20 years old but his choices often managed to satisfy everyone. We called him DJ Simone,” Luke Roberts remembered.
This pandemic might affect riders’ careers
Even if the riders deal with the lockdown well in terms of their mental and physical training, they might still be affected. The season has effectively been cut short and riders who were on the last year of their contract or older riders hoping to still show something to extend their contract or to get on a world tour team might be in trouble. Team Sunweb is not in too much danger in this regard.
“We have quite a young team – it’s the youngest team on the world tour. We have some young talent who could benefit from being able to race more this season. It is a small setback for them. But they will hopefully have more opportunities later in the season. On the other hand, some riders who have been dealing with some small health issues have extra time to take care of those,” said Luke Roberts.