'Seven times three minutes at 500 watts': How Josh Tarling got into world-beating shape

The newly crowned junior TT world champion talks us through an eye-popping week of preparation

Josh Tarling in action at the road world champs
(Image credit: Alamy)

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 a pro rider who talks us through a recent week of training in granular detail. This time it's the turn of junior TT world champion Josh Tarling...

In early August it was announced that 18-year-old Josh Tarling had signed a three-year contract with Ineos-Grenadiers. Little over a month later, the teenager confirmed his prodigious talent by winning the junior TT world title in Wollongong, Australia – beating home favourite Hamish McKenzie by 19 seconds. His move to Ineos means Tarling will jump from junior racing straight to WorldTour, skipping the U23 rung of the ladder. Already a national and European champion on the track, he is quite literally going places, fast. 

How did you get started in cycling? 

My dad was always a rider, and when I was very young I started getting coaching in Shrewsbury [in Shropshire]. It went from there – I think my first race was at age six. My younger brother [Finlay] also started cycling at a young age, so we’re a cycling family. 

You’ve made great strides over the past couple of years. What do you put that down to? 

Having no races due to Covid meant I was able to really prepare for the junior level, doing longer hours and building up a really good base. I also had a new coach at British Cycling, Stuart Blunt, who increased the load but kept efforts mostly separate from long rides. Stuart understands people and adapts training to the individual, as well as knowing exactly how each rider needs to be supported at races.

Rider profile: Josh Tarling

Age: 18

Height: 6ft 4in

FTP: Not supplied

Lives: Aberaeron, Ceredigion

Rides for: Flanders Color Galloo; (Ineos Grenadiers from 2023)

Best results: 1st – ITT, Junior Road World Champs (2022); 2nd – GC, Junior Tour of Wales (2022)

Twitter: @Joshytarling

Instagram: joshytarling

Josh Tarling, arms folded, wearing his world champion's jersey

(Image credit: Alamy)

Do you regard yourself as a time trial specialist?

No – I like time trialling but I’d like to keep doing some road racing too. I’m a fan of one-day racing, so I’d like to combine being a time triallist and a Classics rider – a [Stefan] Küng type. 

You’re very tall like Küng – does that help, having long levers? 

Yeah, though it’s sometimes tricky to get small on the bike, it definitely helps with power output.

Now you’re a world champion, and cycling is always looking for the next ‘wonderkid’, does it feel like a lot of pressure?

It’s not too bad. I went into the Worlds knowing I have a contract [with Ineos], so it was just about fun and riding my bike. It’s helped knowing I’m going to the best team to learn and develop. It is a bit scary but I’ve got the best people helping me.

The week: Facts and figures

When: 15-21 August 2022

Where: Aberaeron, Ceredigion

Training for: Road World Champs (20 September)

Total riding: 21hr

Z3+ effort: 4hr 40min

Monday: AM recovery ride, PM rollers ride – 2hr

Monday was an easier day because I’d had a big weekend. I did an hour-and-a-half at Zone 2 on the road on the TT bike. Leading up to the Worlds, it was important to spend plenty of time on the TT bike to get used to the position while tired. In the evening I did 30 minutes spinning on the rollers. 

Tuesday: AM endurance ride with Z3 efforts, PM core session – 2hr 30min 

Back on the road bike today for two-and-a-half hours with two blocks of 10 minutes at Zone 3. It started with 30 minutes easy and the efforts were interspersed over the ride. My normalised power was 252 watts, and in the blocks I was at the top of Zone 3 at around 360 watts. In the evening, I did an hour’s core work, including weighted planks and crunches – preparation for the Worlds. 

Wednesday: AM endurance ride, PM TT race – 3hr 45min 

I did a road ride of three hours in the morning. There were no efforts involved but it was ‘just keep the chain tight’, so ended up with normalised power of 264 watts. In the evening, I did a club [Kirkley Cycles] TT on a 19.5km, hilly course. My normalised power was 467 watts, taking the win in a time of 23 minutes 50 seconds. I was pleased with that power, and my average heart rate was 186bpm.

Thursday: AM endurance ride, PM rollers session – 2hr 

Thursday was the same as Monday: an hour-and-a-half just riding in the morning on the TT bike on my local roads. It’s a hilly area where I live in Aberaeron, but it’s perfect for training, as every ride is grippy and it’s quite quiet – decent roads with not too many cars. In the evening I did 30 minutes on the rollers, including a few cadence efforts: three times five minutes at 140rpm, just loosening off, a level of effort where it’s only slightly uncomfortable. 

Friday: Long ride with Z3 efforts – 4hr 

Today was four hours mostly Zone 2 but with two blocks of 30 minutes at Zone 3. I did an hour easy to start with before going into the efforts, aiming for about 350 watts. I was a little bit sore from the past couple of days but it wasn’t too bad. I quite like having the Zone 3 blocks, as it means you can do an ambitious loop and get some good miles in. 

Saturday: Long ride with pyramid efforts – 4hr 

Four hours again, but today’s had two sets of pyramids: five minutes, four, three, two, one, then back up again, each effort at TT pace. That’s around 450 watts for the longer efforts, and flat-out for the two- and one-minute efforts. Recovery decreases from four minutes down to one minute between the shorter efforts. I did one set in each half of the ride, and I was on my new TT bike – needing to ride it a lot to get used to it. I was tired at the end of this.

Sunday: AM endurance ride with Z3 efforts, PM race pace intervals – 2hr 45min

Unusually for a Sunday, no long ride today. In the morning I was back on the TT bike for two hours with an hour at Zone 3. I did the effort on a flat loop, three laps, to keep the power even. My normalised power for the whole ride was 260 watts, and for the hour at Zone 3 I averaged 353 watts. It was a shorter ride because I had a long ride coming up on Monday. In the evening I did a turbo session: seven times three minutes at race pace with 4:30 recovery in between. For the efforts, I was averaging close to 500 watts, which finished me off for the week!

This article was originally published in the 13 October 2022 print edition of Cycling Weekly magazine. Subscribe online and get the magazine delivered to your door every week.  

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