Right before the first training camp of the cycling season, the Lotto-Soudal pro cycling team underwent extensive physical tests at Energy Lab. This Belgian WorldTour team is home to famous riders such as Jens Keukeleire, Tiesj Benoot and Thomas De Gendt. What are these physical tests, and how are the results used? Coach Wim Van Hoolst explains.
Since 2009, Lotto-Soudal has been working with Energy Lab for the coaching, testing and training of its riders. This means that Energy Lab measures, tracks and analyzes the physical capacities of every rider and develops training plans for each individual cyclist. The Energy Lab coaches are in close contact with the riders and sports directors to provide the best possible support.
“We follow the team for the entire season to offer the best possible support. We work with the riders during trainings, races and training camps.”Wim Van Hoolst (Energy Lab Coach)
Why does this testing take place at the beginning of December?
The riders started training for the new season in the second week of November. Their first month of training mainly focused on low-intensity endurance training. As they are almost halfway in their preparation for the new season, the training load and intensity are increased drastically.
During this specific preparation stage, heart rate and power zones are of the utmost importance. Multiple specific sessions are now part of the training plan. That’s why these training zones are accurately determined during the tests in December, to be used immediately afterwards. Moreover, it’s a practical occasion to get all riders, who come from 8 different countries, together before they leave for Mallorca, for the first training camp of the season.
Which tests are carried out?
The tests that take place at the beginning of the seasons form a true 360° screening. The complete physical fitness and health of every rider is mapped.
For instance, there is a medical screening. Here, we take a very close look at every rider’s heart. We use sonograms, an ECG at rest and an ECG during an effort. We also map the medical histories of the riders. Doctor Servaas Bingé explains how this part of the testing works.
Additionally, the riders undergo an extensive locomotor screening. This consists of a static/dynamic evaluation and a stability screening: we check the muscle balance at the core, abs and knees to prevent injuries and improve performance. We check for possible instabilities, which we can target with specific stability training.
The riders also undergo a detailed analysis of their body composition and take a powerbreathe test. This test measures the strength of the respiratory muscles. Coupled with the data from a spirometry during an effort, we determine whether the rider would benefit from respiratory muscle training.
Finally, every rider undergoes a fitness test while we measure their VO2 max. This allows us to determine their conditional profile. What’s the maximum performance level of the rider? What are the levels at the aerobic and anerobic threshold? These results are compared to past results and serve as a basis to create optimized training plans.