First, we asked Sports Director Stefano Zanatta about Eolo KOMETA’s goals for the Giro and how they prepared the team to accomplish them.
What strategy and goals does EOLO KOMETA have for Giro d’Italia?
Our strategy begins with careful planning long before the race starts. The main components are selecting athletes and studying the Giro route. Our objectives are straightforward: to gain significant visibility by having one of our riders present in the most crucial stages of the race and achieve positive results at the finish line. Ultimately, we aim to win a stage.
How do you balance the individual goals and ambitions of your riders while maintaining a strong, cohesive team dynamic?
Victory in cycling requires strength and courage but without a team, individuals would be lost. Every athlete understands this.
The Sports Director serves as the central hub of the entire operation. I advise and propose strategies for each stage, assigning specific roles to athletes during the Giro and reinforcing trust established in the months prior to the race. This approach allows everyone to express their ambitions and abilities while maintaining team unity.
What challenges do you anticipate in this particular race, and how have you prepared your team to overcome them?
The Giro is a challenge that we have trained for, both physically and mentally. We are confident in our preparation and the cohesiveness of our team. The work done in recent years is paying off, and everyone involved in the team shares a sense of belonging. This will undoubtedly help us overcome challenges both inside and outside of the race.
Unexpected challenges can appear in any aspect of competition. That’s why we rely on each team member’s expertise, advice, and insights. This includes route analysis, hotel organization for optimal rest, nutrition, personal care, bike maintenance, vehicle management, and countless other details that can make a difference. We welcome the challenge!
Next, we talked to Head Coach Carlos Barredo to find out how he works with the athletes on the team and how he analyses their performance.
What traits do you look for in riders that would do well in a Grand Tour like the Giro?
As the head of performance and sports training, I work on identifying each rider’s strengths and weaknesses based on their physiological characteristics and then, over time, relate these to their psychology. Only riders with emotional stability and a high capacity for enduring pain are well-suited for stage races. Those that don’t exhibit these traits typically focus more on one-day races. This understanding is developed gradually as we work with them from a young age.
How do you identify and develop young talent within your team?
All of the riders on our team are already incredibly talented as talent is typically identified in lower categories before their professional careers. We focus on developing their careers based on the needs of the directors, the roles assigned to each rider, and the team’s objectives at both group and individual levels. We build the team mainly around the riders’ current physical performance rather than talent alone. However, talent and performance are closely linked – talented riders tend to have better sports performance.
What kind of training have your riders undergone leading up to this Grand Tour?
Our riders’ preparation begins with solid base training during the winter, where they establish the foundations. They then gradually improve their form throughout the season, as the competitive season kicks in. In our specific case, the main focus has been on altitude training blocks in the months leading up to the Giro d’Italia. Some riders trained at Teide, while others went to Sierra Nevada, allowing them to adapt to the unique demands of the Giro.
What types of data do you collect and analyse?
As coaches, we collect both objective and subjective variables. Objective variables include common metrics such as heart rate, heart-rate variability, and blood pressure. On the subjective side, we collect data on riders’ perceptions in the morning and after stages, how sleepy and fatigued they feel. We share this also with the sports directors who then make decisions based on each rider’s role and objectives within the team for the stage and the race.
Which has more weight when making decisions during a race, insights from data analysis or coaches’ subjective experiences and instincts?
While there is always an established plan before races, outlining strategies based on various race situations, the riders’ sensations and instincts ultimately play a significant role. They are the ones who must put theory into practice, and their subjective experiences often shape decision-making during the race.
Can you provide an example of how data analysis improved the team’s performance or lead to a successful tactical decision?
Our rider’s data aren’t typically used to make tactical decisions, rather they are key in helping us design the line-up. Depending on the data and the course, we can determine our expectations for the race and whether we can execute certain strategies at specific moments. Understanding our capabilities and limitations helps shape our approach and enhances the overall team performance.