No Tirreno or Paris-Nice for Sky’s Classics riders?

Team Sky coach Rod Ellingworth has been musing on ways to improve the Sky performance in the 2013 Spring Classics. And the team has a radical new plan. Yup, they are not racing. Well, it worked for the Tour de France, right?

Having thus far drawn a blank when it comes to winning a ‘monumental’ Spring Classic, Team Sky is looking at a radical change in its approach for 2013. According to coach Rod Ellingworth, Sky is contemplating pulling its Classics group from both Paris-Nice and Tirreno-Adriatico, a notion that has been floating around Ellingworth’s head since the Spring 2011 campaign.

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“I’m not saying we’ve been unsuccessful, we’ve done OK,” said coach Rod Ellingworth, “we’ve won Kuurne twice and Nieuwsblad but not a main one, so the idea came out of a review where we were looking at everything.”

Ellingworth added that the team was “taking out Tirreno-Adriatico – and we’ll have a training camp instead. None of the Sky Spring Classics riders will do Paris-Nice or Tirreno.”

Although no final decision has been reached, it looks highly likely that Sky will run training camps for its core Classics group rather than throw them into the ‘classic’ preparation stage races.

“I think it’s about knowing what you are going into it’s such a crucial phase, so many weeks before the Classics and knowing the workload you are going to get. I mean, OK, you go to Paris-Nice or Tirreno and you know how far the stages are and you know what climbs there are in the race but you can’t dictate the pace or the weather or anything.

“What I didn’t like about Tirreno this year was that the longest stage was 250k into a block headwind in the freezing cold and it took them nearly eight hours.

“Now, OK, they got to ride their bikes for eight hours, but they were absolutely knackered and not because they had done a quality eight hour block of riding, but because it was as if someone had told them to go and stand in the freezing cold and howling wind for eight solid hours.

“There are far better ways of doing it, so it’s that kind of thing that inspired it.

“It’s come out of a review of what we were doing, we asked every single rider and staff member who had been working on the Classics what their feedback was and I took it on. Since it was initially discussed it was all just ideas but now we’re just putting it all together. It’s still not concrete to training camp every race, but it’ll be decided soon.”

The core group has already been more or less decided, although not finalised.

“In a way you want to work with a relatively small group of around 10 riders within the team who will be on that project – they’ll be in and part of the planning, similar to how we did the road world’s project, it’s a similar kind of two year plan, a similar model.

“We’ll be getting riders in, getting their ideas, getting them to say what they think the selection criteria should be, getting them to give ideas about the training. I want to say to the riders that it’s their life, it’s their race and their project and bringing everyone into it.”

A version of this article originally appeared in the November 15 issue of Cycling Weekly magazine. 

Related links

Sky riders in Belgium for early Classics recon