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GB Para-Cycling Team at Mallorca 2011 Camp
With all eyes firmly fixed on the Para-Cycling Track World Championships in Montichiari, Italy in March, the Great Britain Para-Cycling squad escaped the winter weather for a 10 day training camp in Mallorca. This was certainly no "jolly" and the primary aim was to build a solid endurance base, aerobic conditioning before more specific track work at the Newport Velodrome in February.
Performance manager Gareth Shepherd, along with lead coach Chris Furber and coaches Tom Stanton and Jayne Ellis had put together a demanding schedule of training - steady state road work coupled with hard intervals, hill work and turbo sessions, designed to deliver a bombproof endurance base. Good old fashioned hard work for sure but SRM power cranks and heart rate monitors keep the training sessions focused and manageable.
Based at Reads Hotel, Santa Maria, about 20km from Palma, the camp ran very smoothly and was ideally situated, with mountain climbs, rolling roads and flat terrain all close at hand. With several professional teams were on the island including Lotto, HTC-Columbia and Team Sky, motivation and inspiration was not in short supply.
The GB Para-Cycling squad is full of World and Olympic champions but past performances count for nothing and all the riders were doing two sessions a day. Tandem pair Barney Storey and Anthony Kappes were not the only ones to put in 30 hours on the road. If selected, the Olympic gold medalists will be targeting three events in Italy, the Tandem Sprint, the Tandem Time Trial and for the first time the 4KM pursuit. It is an experiment but the athletes believe they'll be competitive.
Darren Kenny put in long hours on the road with David Stone, followed by motor pace work behind coach Tom Stanton on the scooter. Kenny is targeting the individual pursuit, whilst Stone is looking forward to the Para-Cycling Road World Championships in Copenhagen in September.
The warm sunny weather certainly lifted morale but the hard work still had to be done. Track sprinters Jody Cundy and Jon-Alan Butterworth, tandem stokers Aileen McGlynn and Lora Turnham were all put through their paces on turbo trainers, thoughtfully set up on the hotel patio by the coaches. Russell White, Shaun Mckeown, Rik Waddon and Tel Byrne did not escape the "rack" either.
Hand-cyclists, Rachel Morris, Karen Darke and Brian Alldis took advantage of the traffic free roads and clocked up some quality miles. New tandem pilot Natalie Creswick, who spent much of last season racing in Belgium, and World and Paralympic Champion Sarah Storey, joined the camp later in the week. Storey put in three solid days of road work before riding up to Alcudia to join the women's endurance squad.
The world economic climate had threatened to de-rail this year's Track Championships until the Italians stepped in and saved the day. It is an important year for the GB Para-Cycling Team, as points gained in competition this year will determine the number of riders able to compete in the London Paralympics.
Keeping the riders on the road were mechanics, Ian Jeremiah and Ryan Bonser, who worked hard servicing and cleaning the squad's Pinarello bikes. Experienced soigneur Mark Hall looked after the tired muscles and kept the "Swanny Room" well stocked with CNP bars and gels and Gatorade energy drinks.
A couple of easy days after returning home and the focus will switch to event specialization work. Two intensive track weeks are scheduled for February to bring the riders to peak form.
The World Track Championships will take place in March from the 11th-13th and the team line-up will be announced soon.
To find out how the squad gets on in Italy, visit www.britishcycling.org.uk for updates and follow us on Twitter.