Date of Training Makeover: March 1, 2017
First-cat rider Ben Seneviratne, 21, has been cycling since he was a kid, and stepped it up this year, racing abroad with a Belgian U23 development squad. He is targeting UCI kermesse and stage races. Seneviratne wants to make the most of his opportunity to progress to elite status this season.
HIS GOALS: 1. Short term: To achieve a top-10 in my first five races of the year 2. Medium term: To feature in some breaks and bunch sprints while racing in Belgium for U23 Belgian development team 3. Long term: Gain elite race licence during the 2017 season by picking up podium places in National B road and circuit races
COACH’S ADVICE: 1. Include more specific sprint work 2. Reduce the effort of general riding to Z2 3. Include specific power efforts
CW: Have you kept to Matt’s plan? BS: Matt’s plan has been very useful for me, especially the early part of the season leading up to going out to Belgium. The plan enabled me to focus on weaknesses as well as improve my strengths through both HIIT [highintensity interval training] and long endurance training. When I was out in Belgium, the racing was very full-on, with each race being 120kmplus, three to four times a week. I noticed a big increase in my endurance ability, as I was fresher towards the latter half of the races.
CW: How have the changes helped you? BS: I have seen improvements in my economy throughout road races and an increased feeling of freshness towards the end. I also saw improvements in my sprint as well as my ability to recover between hard efforts when chasing or trying to get in a break. I felt more comfortable sitting at a higher power output without losing the ability to win the sprint — as I did at Lee Valley Velopark three days before going out to Belgium.
CW: What have you learnt through this process? BS: Throughout these changes to my training, I have learnt that the key priority for any cyclist who wants to compete at a good level is the specificity of every training session. Having a goal in mind before the session is key, along with having a structure of the session beforehand so you can visualise what is required of the session.
CW: Have you achieved any of your key goals yet? BS: After returning from my two-month stint in Belgium, I caught a viral stomach infection, which took me off the bike completely for two and a half weeks. This affected my training and set me back a long way in terms of race fitness and days raced. As one of my main season goals was to retain my first-cat race licence — I’m currently on 58 points and aiming to return to racing in the upcoming weeks — I’m confident I will achieve this goal.
Matt Rowe says…
It’s great that Ben adopted much of the guidance we provided for his pre-season period, in getting ready for his European racing campaign. We really focused on developing Ben’s top-end power, and his ability to sustain a high power output, above threshold — an uncomfortable effort to maintain, but a crucial ability for racing cyclists. It’s fantastic to see that the training has helped develop Ben as a competitive cyclist, meaning he has been able to make it into the latter stages of races with enough left in his legs for the sprint. Good job on the win this year!
On the topic of sprinting: it’s one thing being able to produce a blisteringly fast sprint when fresh on a short training ride, but another to produce that explosive effort once fatigued, at the end of an event. This is where the concept of ‘fatigue resistance’ comes into play, and is what separates the pros from amateurs.
Sprint training needs to contain a careful blend of peak power sprints and sensation sprints — sprinting with legs
heavily fatigued after a session, coping with the sensations you experience at the end of a race. If you only train with ‘good legs’, you are going to struggle to sprint on tired legs come race day.
‘Variety is the spice of life’ applies to cycling, both for physical development and enjoyment too. Part of a coach’s job is to keep training fun, challenging, interesting and relevant — treating each rider as an individual, not just a number.
Ben Seneviratne’s makeover led to a lee Valley victory