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Podium Places: A behind the scenes look at how Great Britain prepared for Paris Roubaix

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Article posted: 18/04/2013

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Junior Paris-Roubaix is 129 km long, taking in 16 sectors (29 km) of bone rattling pavé and sees the world’s best cycling nations vying for the illustrious race honours. The podium of Paris-Roubaix has felt the feet of Great Britain riders on many occasions in the last decade, with Ian Stannard, Geraint Thomas, Andy Fenn, Dan McLay, and Jonathan Dibben taking victory or top three places.

The Insight Zone followed the Olympic Development Programme Team as they took on the Junior Paris-Roubaix and gives you a back stage pass to the event. Supplying you with a range tips and advice, that you can only access through the British Cycling Insight Zone. This will be invaluable in helping you to prepare for your season’s big cycling goals.

Whether you’re an aspiring racer, a sportive rider or a coach, you’ll find essential tips about logistics and bike preparation leading up to a big event, optimal physical preparation, technical skills and more. By applying this unique knowledge base, tested and proven at the Hell of the North, to your own riding, you can be sure of success.

Friday morning: Tapering

Friday was a day of travelling with Matt Winston supporting the girls’ squad in Holland at the Energiewacht Tour and making his way to the team hotel later that night. The boys’ programme was travelling with team mechanic Martyn from their camp at Newport through the channel tunnel and into Orchies for the weekend.

To achieve peak performance on race day, the riders had been lowering their training hours leading into the weekend. Today was a rest day for all riders, with all riders going out for “just a spin”, making sure they were fresh from all the travelling and ready for their reconnaissance ride the next day.

Having “just a spin” is all part of the tapering process, to have a great event or race day, a taper is the most important part of the final weeks of training. We caught up with Insight Zone Experts Matt Winston, Roger Hammond and Joe Friel, to give you some tapering top tips from their experience for big one day events.

Saturday morning: Race Reconnaissance

Before the reconnaissance ride it was time to get a nutritious breakfast for a day on the road. For the riders this was toast, muesli, granola, yoghurts and lots of water.

The aim of today was to make riders and staff familiar with the route, taking in some of the vital pavé sectors and finding the right racing lines. Over the next 2 hours riders tackled six cobbled sectors, with Matt Winston taking time between each to discuss and repeat the racing line.

Race reconnaissance is an important part of having a great event or race experience. This could be riding all or part of the course a month before, studying route maps and profiles, using online resources or talking to riders who’ve ridden the event before. Insight Zone Experts Roger Hammond and Matt Winston take you through how they used race reconnaissance and how you can utilise the time and money you have at your disposal.

Saturday afternoon: Bike Wash and Fix

After the ride it was time for the riders to take stock of the day, have some lunch and find time to relax. As the riders made their way from lunch, it was time for Martyn, team mechanic for the weekend, to prepare the bikes for the race the next day.

Over lunch each of the riders had discussed their bikes with the Martyn, who wrote down their needs and made calls to Team Sky regarding their tyre pressures for the next day. Over the course of the next 8 hours each bike was meticulously cleaned, checked and any issues that had arisen from the days ride were sorted. We have the steps to cleaning your bike in the Insight Zone, where you can see the step by step video and explanation of Team GB Mechanics bike wash process.

Once the bikes were cleaned they were prepared for the racing the next day, with new wheels, tyres, and race numbers. Every event will have certain characteristics, this maybe cobbles, cols, or wild windy weather. These characteristics will require certain tweaks to your bike, a different set of wheels or even a change of gearing ratios. Team GB Mechanic Martyn explains the tweaks he made to riders bikes for Paris Roubaix, what Team Sky’s Ben Swift always does on race day and what you can be doing to your bike for your events in the UK.

Saturday night: Team Brief

After some time to themselves, the riders had their evening meal and, along with the support staff, discussed team roles for the next day. Matt Winston led the team through the process of the day, when they will wake up, when they will eat, when they will warm up, team presentation time, start time and race strategy.

The night before a big event is always filled with nerves, some people like to talk, some people like to read and some want to escape the four walls of the hotel room. Spending too much time walking or using nervous energy is not good mentally or physically, having some structure to your night will help relaxation.

Insight zone experts Roger Hammond talks about being a junior before the days of hotel WIFI and tablet computers, Matt Winston talks about the process of a riders night before races like Paris Roubaix, each giving you some take home messages for your events in the coming year.

A Sunday in Hell: Life of a Directeur Sportif

It was a fast, scary and uncomfortable 3 hours. The jarring meant I couldn’t tweet from the team car, the Go-Pro cameras were falling of the dashboard and the pictures were shocking. Nothing was going to plan. Fortunately the riders however were having some of the rides of their lives, making their way into breaks and shutting down ones which were not in their favour. The end result was Great Britain riders finishing on the podium and in the top 20. To understand how to ride hard on the cobbles, see the video of Olympic Development Programme taking on the cobbles of Roubaix with some top tips from the Insight Zone.

This process for the junior riders repeats week in week out at another race that is just as big as the last one. Taking on Europe’s biggest cycling events takes its toll physically and mentally on riders, staff, and equipment. To stay at the top requires high commitment, planning, and physical conditioning from riders and staff. Driving in the hot seat at every event is Matt Winston, Insight Zone has given you unique access to what is a dream job to many aspiring coaches, giving you an understanding that it is not all right arm suntans, eating chocolate éclairs and following a bike race.

Once the riders had finished and Tao Geoghegan Hart had been on the podium and talked to the press, it was time to get the kit from the bag, hit the showers and the riders to make their way home for track camp the next day. The post race and travelling kit bag is a key part of the logistical preparations that an aspiring world tour rider has to learn. They have to be organised and plan ahead to make sure they are ready for travelling the next day, training the week after and possibly another race the next weekend. Insight Zone Experts Roger Hammond, Matt Winston and ODP Riders give you an insight into their post race recovery for Paris Roubaix and how you can get you plan ready for your events in the summer.

Tapering, race reconnaissance, bike wash, preparing your bike, event nerves, director sportif on race day and post race recovery. Now you know how Team GB regularly feature on the Junior Paris-Roubaix podium with top hints and tips that you can apply to your own racing, sportive or coaching season.

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