THE PRO VIEW
How important is altitude training to the Worldtour teams?
Marco Pinotti, performance coach, BMC Racing
‘It’s a tool that can help riders racing in the mountains and the Grand Tours, but only some riders respond well. There are markers we can check to see if it has worked, but the real check is the road – the race results after they return to sea level. Often when they come back the first race is not so good, and then they perform well maybe two or three weeks after. Every time a rider goes to altitude we learn something about their body, and how to use this tool better in the future.
‘We go to Tenerife or Sierra Nevada, maybe Mount Etna in Sicily, but weather conditions mean it’s logistically difficult to organise so we usually only take one single rider or a small group. Never the whole team.’
Jon Baker, coach, Dimension Data
‘We don’t go as a team to altitude – we take small groups, often to Tenerife, but some riders prefer Boulder, Colorado. It’s hard to find locations that don’t have snow above 2,500m for most of the year.
‘Altitude training isn’t a magic bullet. The research supports its benefits, but there are negatives as well – reduced sleep, and it’s harder to train at high intensity. Riders’ responses are an individual thing. My job is to understand the physiological profile of the rider and how they adapt.
‘It’s hard to provide actual numbers but I would say a 20 watt improvement [in threshold power] would be a brilliant result. Realistically we would see more like 5-10W.’