Marianne Vos’s Rabo-Liv team has been taking specialist descending classes this week as part of a pre-season training camp.
The Dutch team, including women’s road World Champion, Frenchwoman Pauline Ferrand-Prevot, hooked up with Spanish mountain biker, Oscar Saiz in the Spanish resort of Calpe.
The training isn’t all about going downhill as fast as possible, however. After a classroom session on Monday, the team moved to the hotel car park yesterday (Tuesday). Today the team will be putting the knowledge into practice on the roads around the team base.
‘It’s a good part of [rider] development,” Rabo-Liv team manger, Koos Moerenhout told Cycling Weekly. “On training camps, everybody trains long and hard, but when they go down the mountain everybody takes it easy until the next effort and the descent is not trained.”
“The riders have all the different skills, of course,” Moerenhout continued. “It’s how you handle being in a peloton, when they have high speed, that can be a problem for them, so we practise that as well as we can.”
Giant, whose Liv branded bikes the team use, also sponsor Saiz, and have employed him to provide this kind of training to both men’s and women’s teams for some years.
“Oscar has the ability to explain it in a funny way and he gives the girls a lot of information in a short time. It’s good, everybody is positive about it and he gives you exercises to take to home to keep practising.”
After their nine day training camp, Rabo-Liv begin their season at the Ladies Tour of Qatar in early February. However, both Vos and Ferrand-Prevot will miss that race, instead riding the Cyclo-Cross World Championships in the Czech Republic on January 31.
Vos’s first race on the road will be the inaugural edition of the women’s Strade-Bianche in early March, whilst Ferrand-Prevot will begin at the second road World Cup race in Italy at the end of the same month.
Saiz has also worked with the Belkin team and FDJ's Thibaut Pinot to help help improve their descending abilities.
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Owen Rogers is an experienced journalist, covering professional cycling and specialising in women's road racing. He has followed races such as the Women's Tour and Giro d'Italia Donne, live-tweeting from Women's WorldTour events as well as providing race reports, interviews, analysis and news stories. He has also worked for race teams, to provide post race reports and communications.
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