IG Markets-Sigma Sport Riders tell all about their Winter Training

Larry Hickmott writes … After the feature with Tom Murray, comes Olympic medallist Steven Burke, road star Simon Richardson, Tom Last, Andrew Griffiths and Jake Hales tell us about their winter training …

Steven Burke (Olympic Bronze Medallist)
Deep into a boot camp under the guidance of he who should be obeyed, Dan Hunt, Steven rode for UK Youth in 2011 and switches to IG Markets-Sigma Sport for the all-important 2012 season where the Olympics in London is the big target.

Steven has ridden for Great Britain since 2005 when he rode the Junior Worlds and since then has become a regular in the Great Britain Team Pursuit squad winning a Silver and Bronze medal in the 2010 and 2011 Track Worlds respectively. The next goal is to make the GB team for the Track Worlds in Melbourne and then the London Olympics.

Steven says “I started my winter training a fair few weeks ago. I didn’t have that much of a break because the European Track Championships were quite early on the track season calendar. I did a four week track ‘boot camp’ after the European Championships with decent road rides at the weekends. At the moment I’m doing more than 30 hours a week here in Majorca. My training is varied from an easy hour to a six hour ride on the road, and I do efforts between half lap individual starts and 5km Team Pursuit efforts on the track distance wise. The weekends normally involve road rides.”

For athletes looking to win Gold in London, it’s business as usual on Christmas Day as Steven expects to do a two hour easy ride on Xmas day but New Years day won’t be out on the Barnoldswick chaingang with Ian ‘Superman’ Wilkinson as Steven will be looking to take that day off.

Steven is currently on a training camp with GB in Majorca and will be out there again twice in January in between track champs at Manchester. “On this camp, the rides have been mainly five hour days with plenty of climbing and through and off efforts on the flat. The next camp will include some track work in Palma mixed with long rides on the road.”

Of all the riders we’ve talked to so far, Steven’s first race will probably be the most important – the Team Pursuit at the sold out London World Cup! That’s in February and he says in early March, he may be racing the Eddie Soens at Aintree before it’s a full on assault on getting ready for the Track Worlds in Melbourne.

Simon Richardson
Switching to the road a few years ago from Cross-Country Mountain Biking, Simon Richardson is one of the country’s top road riders and winner of races all the way up to Premier Calendar level. Based in the South of England (Bristol), Simon is one of the leaders in the IG Markets-Sigma Sport team and says that, yes, his training for 2012 has already started.

“I started in a fairly unstructured way back in mid-November” says Simon. “Although the Tour of Britain was my last proper race of the season back in September, I kept riding quite a bit until the back end of October and then had a few weeks off. A typical week now is about 10-15hrs on the bike.”

“My default ride is a brisk four hours. There’s nothing particularly remarkable about it, I just feel it gets me fit, and so I find that I keep coming back to this staple ride throughout the season, preferably backing up consecutive days of them. For the geeks out there, I’d be looking to average about 260 watts!”

Simon though says Christmas day is a rest day and almost always is. Winner of a cyclo-cross race already this winter, Simon adds “New Years day is far less sacrosanct, in fact I’m racing cyclo-cross on it this year all being well!”

Simon Richardson getting stuck in during the Halfords Tour Series.

On the subject of training camps, he neglects to mention the infamous Matt Stephens Welsh trek which will be the first of the camps this year for the team at the end of January but does admit to the one in Italy saying “I’ll be heading to Tuscany in February with the team. Normally I’d go somewhere in January too but this year I’m racing cyclo-cross instead. I’m not sure that’s the wisest decision ever but we’ll see.”

On that last one, we are wondering whether he’s using ‘cross as an ‘excuse’ to get out of the Welsh trek … I think we should be told Simon!

Unlike Steven Burke, Simon’s early season racing is a mix of cyclo-cross and then switching to the road. This is because Simon can’t quite leave the off road stuff alone since leaving the competition side of mountain biking but his early season road races are quite tough.

Simon explains “I guess the West Midlands Cyclo Cross league round on the 1st of January counts as my first race for 2012 followed by the Cyclo-Cross nationals (Ipswich) and the final National Trophy (Shrewsbury). Then it’s time to put some hours in before my Road season kicks off in March, perhaps with the Severn Bridge Road Race the week before the French event Paris-Troyes.”

Jake Hales
A new rider in the IG Markets-Sigma Sport colours in 2012 will be Jake Hales (Corley Cycles) who says with his step up to a UCI team, he started training on November 1st. “I had three weeks off the bike after the Bec CC hill climb and currently I have been fitting training in around University”.

“I have been doing 16-17 hours a week during my training weeks and about ten during my rest weeks. I have also been getting to the gym two to three times and week and working on core and upper body strength. This will increase in January to whatever I feel I can realistically manage without getting too fatigued.”

“Due to University, I usually have two days a week where I can’t ride. The other five days are rides of between three to four hours normally. This is the same regardless of whether it is a week day or the weekend.”

Christmas day though is no excuse not to ride and Jake says that he’ll usually go for a ride with some of his mates. “Nothing to serious, normally just a few hours of messing around!” he says which is fair enough… it is Christmas after all! “I will then be away on a training camp over New Years, so I will definitely be out riding.”

The training camp is in Portugal from Boxing Day until the 8th of January where Jake can get a head start on his teammates before the team camp at the end of February and that one in Wales as well. “There is also the potential for a ten day trip to Majorca in early February, but this is still undecided. In Portugal, the focus will be on taking advantage of the better weather to get a solid block of riding in. I will probably be looking at two weeks of at least 25 hours.”

It’s a classic start to his 2012 season with Jake explaining that his first race will most likely be the long running Severn Bridge road race the first weekend of March followed the next weekend by the Roy Thame on the Saturday and then another classic, the Jock Wadley on the Sunday.

Tom Last
A rider seen a lot racing around muddy fields in 2011, Tom says he started his winter training back in November. “I rode up to the start of the Rapha cross series (Lake District) and then took about two weeks totally off and then two weeks riding as and when.”

“I’d like to be spending 15-20 hours a week on the bike now. I’m home from University over Xmas and New Year so I will be shooting for closer to 20 for the next couple of weeks.

Tom (left) racing ‘cross with the master Roger Hammond at Derby.

“Weekdays I have been trying to mix it up with some cyclo-cross stuff and some longer rides too. I’m trying to do one ‘cross specific day with a turbo session and a 1.5-2 hour cross ride. We have a really good loop out of Newcastle where I’m at Uni. Splitting days is pretty useful as well to get an effective workout around lectures, some of which I can’t miss!”

“As for the weekend, I have been racing cyclo-cross most weekends so the intensity on at least one of the days is pretty brutal. If I’m racing Sunday, I’ll aim to get two and a half hours in and if I’m racing Saturday, that gives me a chance for a longer ride Sunday.”

On the subject of whether he’ll be aiming to ride on Christmas and New Years day, he says probably both and then mans up and admits to the existence of the Welsh boot camp. “We have a team training camp in Wales in January and then another Italy in February. That mean’s lots of time on the bike and pretty flat out riding. With exams and all that, I won’t be able to get away apart from that. When I get back to Uni, I’ll ride up to Scotland and back one day as that’s a pretty solid 5-6 hour ride. That’s as close as I’ll get to going abroad in January!”

Like his teammate Simon Richardson who will be racing a bit of ‘cross before the road season, Tom says “I’ll race the Notts and Derby cyclo-cross on New Years Eve and then the British Cyclo-Cross champs in Ipswich. Following that, I will probably start with some local races around Newcastle and then perhaps head up to Scotland with Ross Creber for the first round of the Super6 as last year.”

Andrew Griffiths
Another new name in the IG Markets-Sigma Sport team, Andrew is a former National Time Trial champion (Under 23) and did rather well in the Tour of Malta this year. Having raced in Belgium, Andrew is very experienced on the road and is currently doing between 15-20 hours a week building up quality and quantity since mid November.

“I had about a month off and then another month just enjoying cycling for what it is” he says. “I will carry on gradually building up to the start of the season.”

Andrew is a part time bikeability instructor so a midweek training session would either be a specific TT or interval session on the turbo in the evening or a steady group ride on his days off. Group rides are usually between 4-5 hours he says “There’s always someone to train with usually Joe Perrett (former European Junior TT Champion) or Oli Rossi (riding for Rapha in 2012). Also weekend rides may see a bigger group like yesterday (Sunday) there were 10 of us and we’re all Elite or 1st cat riders so it’s always a good solid ride and good atmosphere with maybe the odd cafe stop.”

Andrew says that he’ll always try and get in a few hours on Xmas morning, usually with his brother (Steven) as it’s a good excuse to have second or even third serving of Xmas dinner!

After the festive period and the festive intake, Andrew is off to Lanzarote for a weeks training. “It’s always nice to get some in some long rides in good weather” he says. “I’m heading there with Joe Perrett and one of my good friends from Belgium from when I was living there,  Niels Nachtergaele.”

“I try to do quite a lot of work in the mountains as we don’t have many big hills in Essex! We also have a team training camp in Tuscany in February which is rumoured to be a lot of hard work so I’m looking forward to getting involved!”

The first major event on his calendar is a doozy of a race, the French event Paris- Troyes in early March and to warm up for that, Andrew says he may also get in a couple of local events beforehand depending on his  condition.

My thanks to the riders for the feedback and good luck to them in 2012!

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