FEATURE: Grace and Movement

Wed 20 Sep 2017

The professional cycling calendar gets busier every year, packed with diverse events that require specific and intense training schedules to ensure that the best possible preparation can lead to positive results.

We spoke to former consecutive Australian road race champion Gracie Elvin of ORICA-SCOTT about her approach to training and the patterns of a typical racing season.

2017 has seen Gracie achieve some big results in prestigious races including second places in both the Tour of Flanders and Dwars door Vlaanderen, cementing her credentials as a genuine Classics talent.

Gracie began by breaking down the season and explaining how a break from training followed by a rebuilding process helps the body adjust to different types of racing.

“In general our season follows a pattern of mostly one-day races in the first half of the European season and then Tours in the second half,” explained Elvin. “My training for the Spring Classics is high quality, intense interval training that comes at the end of a solid endurance block that I have worked on over the Australian summer.”

“After the spring period ends I will usually have a break of about a week before starting to rebuild towards the Tours with some longer endurance rides that include sustained climbing efforts and back-to-back hard training days. The idea behind this is to get the body used to the backing up day after day that is required in stage racing.

“Some riders love to train in hot weather and some like to go to altitude for a solid block of training mid-season. For me both options work well as long as I am doing a lot of climbing.”

Australian athletes have a long and fruitful relationship with the mountainous, lakes region of Northern Italy and both ORICA-SCOTT and the Institute of Sport have bases in Lombardy where the local terrain makes for an ideal training ground.

“I’ve been lucky to be based in Gavirate, near Varsese in Northern Italy where the riding is very good,” continued Elvin. “We have so many options that I make an effort not to ride the same roads or climbs two days in a row, only a few minutes out of the front door and you can be at the foot of 5-10kilometre climbs. It’s a great place to be based.”

“I like riding along the shores of Lake Maggiore before climbing into the hills that surround it to experience the amazing views, there’s something of everything up here. When I’m back home in Canberra (Australia) I love to get back into the organised bunch rides that stop at our favourite local cafes, you can’t beat a good coffee ride!”

Everyone who rides a bike understands the quite beautiful juxtaposition from being completely alone out in the elements with just your pedal stroke for company to the social camaraderie of a group ride and the feeling that you are part of a special club that has members worldwide.

Professional riders are not necessarily any different and Elvin concluded by explaining how there are times for riding alone and other times for enjoying the group.

“When I am in Europe I mostly train on my own,” said Elvin. “This is generally because I have a lot of specific training to stick to and that makes it a little harder to go with others who may be on different training plans. If I need to do a long endurance ride then I like to meet up with my teammates who live in the same area and enjoy the company.”

“I also like to train on my own as it forms part of my ‘down time’ away from the intensities of racing where we are with our teammates 24/7. I like to use my training time to just enjoy some quiet or listen to podcasts.”

Gracie Elvin will next be in action representing Australia at the UCI Road World championships in Bergen, Norway on Saturday the 23rd of September.

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