Cycling Weekly spent a day with Ed Clancy and the rest of the British team pursuit riders during their January training camp in Majorca last year.
We watched them eat, train, and then eat some more, gaining a valuable insight into how hard they work.
The day we spent with the six riders was day one of a three-day block that was repeated after a rest day on the fourth day. Day two consisted of two road rides (both around two hours), one of which was on time trial bikes, while day three was one long ride with big hills.
After the two three-day blocks they flew back to the UK to continue training on the Manchester track in the build-up to the London round of the World Cup.
The rest of the team is Peter Kennaugh, Ben Swift, Sam Harrison, Steven Burke, Andy Tennant. The other member of the team pursuit squad, Geraint Thomas, was racing in Australia at the time.
07:30 Wake up time for Clancy and his team mates
08:00 Clancy, 26, is famed for the amount he eats; he has been known to eat up to 600 grams of porridge for breakfast. Team Sky chef Soren Kristiansen is on hand to make omelettes. All riders start the day with a smoothie, packed with vitamins (beetroot juice is a favourite ingredient).
09:00 The riders were told the bus would be leaving for the velodrome at 9am on the dot (so were we); the rider who got there at one minute past got a ribbing.
09:40 The journey to the velodrome in Palma is taken up by banter over their recent track day driving Ferraris and other race cars. Clancy was the fastest, although his reckless driving was called into question. “They don’t give out gold medals for sensible riding!” was his quite reasonable response.
09:50 There’s a sense that no one is really looking forward to what they’re about to do as they get changed in the deserted track centre.
10:05 The riders are on the track for a 15-minute warm-up session, riding as a six on the blue line.
10:20 They come off the track and take off their leg warmers ahead of tougher efforts. They are two do four, 5km drills. Dan Hunt tells them the order and gives them their lap speed target (15.8sec) and cadence (130rpm).
10:40-12:00 The riders get back on track for the first of their efforts. Four of them ride at the front while two sit two bike lengths off the back. The two at the back naturally hold a steadier power output through the effort than the four in the train whose outputs go up to over 500 watts and down to around 200 watts depending on where they are in the line.
Sports science back-up is provided by UKSI. Data is captured from the SRM boxes after each session and a video camera in the stands captures the action. The best information however comes from Dan Hunt, his eye and his stopwatch. By sight he immediately knows which riders are going faster, albeit just by four tenths of a second.
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Clancy makes regular checks on his saddle height and orientation through the session.
In track centre carer/soigneur Hanlie Perry makes up drinks for the riders, while food (both CNP and some homemade) is laid out on the table for the riders to snack on.
12:05 The session is complete, allowing the riders to tuck into the omelettes brought with them from the hotel (made by the Team Sky chef). There’s also a raw carrot in each lunch box. General consensus is that the third effort is the toughest, as the legs are tired but there’s still one to go.
12:20 The riders get out of their skinsuits and into shorts and jerseys. In the track centre no one has any idea what the outside temperature is. They put on arm and leg-warmers just in case.
The first two hours are steady, riding two abreast, each pair sitting on the front for 15 minutes. Ben Swift and Peter Kennaugh’s turns are notably longer. Clancy’s freewheel is playing up, so he drifts off the back on a long, gentle rise to get a wheel change.
14:50 A quick pee stop allows Dan Hunt to go through the format for the next 40 minutes that they will ride at pace, in a single-file line.
15:20 The strain shows on the face of Sam Harrison, the youngest rider
in the group at 19. The rolling road back to Ca’n Picafort is perfect
for these efforts where each rider does 3-5 minutes on the front before
swinging off to their left and slowly heading to the back of the line.
The pace is kept steady on any short climbs to keep the group together;
it’s the drags that really hurt.
15:42 A quick chat with Dan Hunt (centre) back at the Hotel in Alcudia.
15:42 Clancy and Harrison (right) go straight to the carer’s room where they pick up their bags, shoes and recovery drink. They have a choice of adding in extra supplements if they feel they need them. Each rider has his own preferences.
16:10 After a quick shower the riders are fuelling up again with lunch.
17:30-18:30 Carer Hanlie Perry gets to work on Ed in an hour-long massage. Each rider gets one after a training session where specific problems can be worked on, as well as the aching legs.
19:30 Following a bit of relaxation in their rooms, checking emails, catching up with news, the riders hit the restaurant again for their evening meal. Tonight they’re joined for dinner by Bradley Wiggins, who is the only Team Sky rider in the hotel tonight. Eleven more are due to arrive tomorrow.
20:15-21:30 A bit of down-time sees the riders hit the pool table (the competitive spirit is never far away) where Andy Tennant watches on. Other days may see them having meetings with their coaches, or others from BC’s support staff.
21:30 The riders head up to their rooms to relax where Ed may catch up with some reading or “talk crap with Swifty”.