Mark Cavendish seeking aerobic gains at altitude before focusing on high intensity work ahead of new season

Astana head coach Vasilis Anastopoulos: ‘Cavendish is currently doing lots of hours in the saddle and only short sessions of more intensive work’

Mark Cavendish
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Mark Cavendish is currently at an Astana Qazaqstan altitude training camp in Colombia to improve his ‘aerobic capacity’, says Astana head coach Vasilis Anastopoulos. 

Cavendish along with two of his key Astana leadout men, Cees Bol and Michael Mørkøv, is currently on a fortnight long camp in the Andes, 2,150 metres above sea level, in the city of Rionegro. 

The Manxman will then ride the Tour Colombia race between 6-11 February in what’s set to be his last-ever season in the professional peloton. 

According to a report from Italian outlet BiciPro, Anastopoulos has explained that Cavendish has spent most of his winter so far completing a series of long, low-intensity training rides as he builds for his first racing targets of the season. The overall aim has been to improve his aerobic ability on the bike. 

He said: “There are lots of different ways to tackle altitude training but you have to be careful about what you do. Cavendish is currently doing lots of hours in the saddle and only short sessions of more intensive work. For now, he seems to be responding well.”

As reported by Cycling Weekly last year, Anastopoulos joined Astana during the off-season. The Greek former pro turned coach worked with Cavendish during his last spell with the Quick-Step team and was integral to his renaissance at the 2021 Tour de France in which he won four stages. 

Anastopoulos previously told Cycling Weekly in October that a trip to Colombia was on the cards and that he had already begun to put plans in place with Astana boss Alexander Vinokourov prior to officially joining the team. 

“So my proposal is I would like for Mark to do two to three altitude training camps before the Tour,” he said. “At the end of the day, I think based on the race programme, we will probably do two camps.

“Checking the weather at the end of January, February, there are not too many places in Europe where you can do a camp. There's Mount Teide, but it's usually really booked out and it's pretty hilly for a guy like Mark. And you know, there's Sierra Nevada, but it's full of snow, the weather's bad then. 

"So I'm looking at some other options in Colombia where you can train high, but also there's some roads where it's pretty flat so you can also do some sprint work over there. That’s the draft idea I already have for next year.” 

After completing his training and racing block in South America, Cavendish is expected to head to the middle east to ride the UAE Tour in late February. According to BiciPro he will then ride Tirreno-Adriatico in early March. 

Anastopoulos confirmed to BiciPro that Cavendish will head back to altitude once more before the Tour de France. The Manxman is set to attempt to break the record for the most stage wins at the French Grand Tour this summer. 

He was due to retire at the end of last season but opted to continue with Astana for one more year after crashing out of the race last July

“The main reason why Mark is doing the altitude training camp in Colombia is because he wants to improve his aerobic capacity,” Anastopoulos continued.

“In my opinion even a Classics specialist should do at least one altitude training camp. And if that is not possible, then one at sea level, but I believe that the benefits of altitude training are greater. That is why we’ll go back to altitude again in May, in Sierra Nevada [Spain].”

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