'I want to do justice to the jersey this year': A week in the life of national cyclo-cross champion Thomas Mein

The Wiv-SunGod rider talks us through a busy week as he kicks off his road racing season

Thomas Mein on the podium
(Image credit: SW Pix)

Want to know how the best riders in the world train? For each article in this long-running MY WEEK IN TRAINING series from Cycling Weekly's print edition, we sit down with an elite rider who talks us through a recent week of training in granular detail. This time it's the turn of reigning British cyclo-cross champion Thomas Mein (Wiv-SunGod)...

Since breaking through on the Belgian cyclocross circuit as a teenager in 2016, Thomas Mein has consolidated his position as one of the UK’s very best cross riders – comfortably winning this year’s Nationals in Skipton. The 23-year-old Tynesider is no slouch on the road, either, and took top honours at the opening round of this year’s Tour Series in Guisborough at the beginning of May. That win came at the start of the busy week he talks us through in detail below. 

How did you get started in cycling? 

Initially a bit of mountain biking with my dad – the easiest way to get into the sport. It progressed from there: I joined a cycling club and did a bit of road racing but mainly focused on cross, as that was what I most enjoyed. 

When did you get more serious about it? 

I did some racing in Belgium, got some results and then fully committed to it. After winning the junior race at the Koppenbergcross in 2016 [aged 17] I realised I could possibly make a career out of it. 

Do you still see yourself as a cyclo-cross specialist? 

I definitely concentrate more on cross, but I seem to be able to balance it quite well with the road. Being national cyclocross champion, I want to do the jersey justice this year too.

Rider profile: Thomas Mein

Age: 23

Height: 6ft 1in

FTP: 390W (estimated)

Lives: Newcastle

Rides for: Wiv SunGod (road); Hope Factory Racing (cyclo-cross)

Best results: 1st – U23 Cyclo-cross World Cup, Tábor (2020); 1st – British National Cyclo-cross Championships (2022)

Instagram: thomasmein99

Cyclo-cross success can be a launchpad into the WorldTour, as shown by the likes of Tom Pidcock, Ben Tulett and Ben Turner. Is that your ultimate goal? 

Definitely, and it’s nice to see it can be done. Those riders have shown it’s possible as long as you keep your head down and keep working. 

You won at the British National Cyclo-cross Championships this year – was that a major target? 

Yeah. I’d been ill in November [with abnormally high heart rate while racing] and didn’t know how I was going to come back, but the lack of racing made me fresher for the Nationals. Sometimes you get there feeling a bit worn down from all the racing. It wasn’t exactly a blessing but it worked out well. 

What are your main goals this year? 

On the road, it’s just getting the racing in. For cross, I’ll be targeting the World Cup series and the Nationals again.

Does your training change much when you shift from the cyclocross season onto the road? 

The biggest difference is that I find the cross season more intense, just keeping on top of the hours and keeping the base topped up. The weather can make that difficult, and the high intensity in cold weather can be difficult too. You have to really balance it, otherwise you risk getting slower as the season goes on.

Facts and figures

The week: 2-8 May, 2022

Location: Newcastle-upon-Tyne

Training for: Tour Series

Total riding: 19hr 45min

Z3+ effort: 2hr 40min

Monday: Tour Series Round One – 1hr 45min

Today was the first round of the Tour Series at Guisborough [in North Yorkshire]. In the morning I did a 30-minute spin on the rollers just to wake up the body, ahead of the evening race. We did a 15-minute warm-up before the race, just spinning again. The race was one-hour long, and for me it was pretty much full gas right from the start. Me and [team-mate] Matt Bostock were off the front early and got away while everyone else was trying to regroup. For the first 20 minutes I averaged over 400W normalised power – pretty crazy.

Tuesday: Easy group ride – 3hr 

Yesterday’s race was my first really hard effort for a while, and it was a nice confidence boost to take the win. On Tuesday we travelled to Galashiels [in the Scottish Borders] for the next Tour Series race, and when we got there we did a three-hour group ride. It was just steady, with a cafe stop; nothing above Zone 2, averaging 200W, so all good, except for getting caught in a couple of showers – very Scottish weather!

Wednesday: Tour Series Round Two – 2hr 5min 

The second round of the Tour Series today. In the morning I did 45 minutes, again just gentle riding to warm up my legs. The race was at 5.30pm, and for me it didn’t go too well. I had a problem at the start: as I went to pull away, one cleat didn’t engage and my foot slipped off the pedal, sending me into the barrier at the side of the course. The impact twisted my handlebars, so I had to swap bikes – and forgot to transfer my Wahoo, meaning I had to race without any data. The whole race was spent chasing back on, and I was annoyed with myself for a silly mistake.

Thursday: Recovery ride – 1hr 45min 

We got home from Scotland pretty late the day before, so I didn’t end up riding until late in the afternoon. I did one hour, 45 minutes, just recovery riding: 120bpm average heart rate, so it was a nice and easy ride. It was quite hard getting back into a routine after the late starts the previous few days and I was feeling a little more tired than usual. Generally I prefer to train quite early in the day, leaving the house by 10am at the latest. Surprisingly, though, there wasn’t too much fatigue in my legs from the racing.

Friday: Off-road endurance ride – 3hr 

Went out just to try and log some more hours on the bike – I did three hours today. I rode my cross bike on some gravelly tracks and through some woods, just to mix it up a bit. There were no efforts involved, and I don’t have a power meter on my cross bike but it was all just Zone 2 riding. I was on my own today – most of my weekday rides are done solo.

Saturday: Off-road endurance ride – 3h 30min 

Another cross bike ride: three and a half hours, and again, all just Zone 2. Lots of Zone 2 riding at the moment, partly to recover from the racing but also because I didn’t have the smoothest transition from cross to road this year, so I’m still catching up a bit. The plan was almost to base train right up to the beginning of the season and use races as my high-intensity work. I like to ride off-road quite often to keep it interesting.

Sunday: Off-road endurance ride – 4hr 40min 

I rode with two others today and we did four hours, 40 minutes, again off-road – up to Kielder reservoir. It was mostly steady, pushing on on a few of the climbs but nothing too structured. I was feeling fully recovered from the racing, and it was good fun, exploring some new tracks – a good day out.

This article was originally published in the 26 May 2022 print edition of Cycling Weekly magazine. Subscribe online and get the magazine delivered to your door every week.  

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