FEATURE: Benefits of a mid-season team training camp - Amanda Spratt

Mon 22 May 2017

Emakumeen XXX Bira stage winner Amanda Spratt had a successful start to the 2017 season winning the Santos Women’s Tour Down Under which lead into strong and consistent performances in the early season classics.

To split up the first part of the season and the second, stage race phase of the season, ORICA-SCOTT have a yearly training camp in May which Spratt believes is a crucial and pivotal aspect to their stage racing success.

“The training camp in May has become one of our ‘winning formulas’ over the last few seasons,” Spratt explained. “That is not just a figure of speech, we have actually made a tradition of winning our first races post-training camp each year and this year has been no different with Annemiek van Vleuten taking the win last week in the Durango-Durango one-day event.”

This winning momentum continued to the Emakumeen XXX Bira stage race where Spratt, Katrin Garfoot and van Vleuten each won a stage before Sarah Roy capped off a massive week with a sprint victory at SwissEver GP Cham Hagedorn. 

“The camp falls at the perfect moment in the season, when the classics season has finished everyone has a small break and then May is the time to build back up again and start to look towards the tours and the second half of the year,” Spratt continued. 

“The classics can be a stressful environment with a lot of nerves, whereas the camp steps away from that and provides a really relaxed atmosphere where we can get back into the rhythm of training in picturesque and usually sunny environment. 

“It’s also often the first time in the season where the entire team is together as our track riders cross back over to the road.”

Over the past few season ORICA-SCOTT have had their May training camp in Tuscany, Italy but this year to keep things fresh they decided to take the riders to Girona, Spain to train on new challenging roads. 

“This year we based ourselves just outside of Girona in a beautiful old farm house,” Spratt continued. “We spend a lot of time in hotels during the season so this kind of location felt more like a big home with plenty of space to relax, swim in the pool or meet the many cute animals around the property.”

“It is always exciting to explore a new place by bike, at times training can become monotonous so I think finding new locations and new roads provides a different stimulus for us and challenges us to improve as well. Girona is such a mecca for cyclists so it was great to be able to base ourselves there and experience just why this is the case. 

“We had a big climbing focus during our camp so that was another reason why the team chose Girona because of the large selection of longer climbs. In July, the Giro Rosa is a big goal for the team so climbing, climbing techniques and descending was something we worked a lot on. I think we managed to climb most of the ‘hors category’ climbs in the area.”

Having a mid-season training camp to clearly breakup two phases of the season is not only beneficial physically and mentally but it also provides the perfect opportunity for the team to train together in a controlled environment, to increase motivation and work on other skills to enable the riders to improve further.

“During the camp we also practice different drills on the bike that you couldn’t do if you were just training by yourself,” said Spratt. “We also had a few short mock races at the end of the longer rides in both teams and as individuals. We are all still super competitive so it’s a very hard way to finish a ride.” 

“During a training camp it is not just what we do on the bike that is important, we spend time in the afternoons to work through a range of things that can improve us both individually and as a team. 

“This included working with our sports scientist Paolo Menaspà, organisational psychologist Craig Appaneal and reviewing the season so far with Gene Bates and Martin Barras. I find this all really beneficial and think it really helps to improve us.”

We wish Amanda the best of luck for the remainder of the 2017 season.