The Ramp Test: Dean Downing in the hurt locker


New team, new coach and so there’s a ramp test for Dean Downing at the NFTO Pro Cycling Team’s get together

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‘Oh my god’ is the reaction when the words ‘ramp test’ are muttered to Dean Downing and anyone who does them, or intervals on a turbo, will know they are not nice things to do. “They have not changed” says Dean as he relaxes afterwards with a coffee and Mars bar (his reward for being a good boy).


Jon Sharples explains to Dean the test they will be doing.

“I did some ramps tests when I was 18 with Ken Matheson who was mine and Russell’s coach for a good five years and he went on to coach the GB Olympic Women’s team. The very first test I did, he was like ‘there is something wrong with the test, you should be getting higher results!”

Whilst Dean knows what his weaknesses are, such as sustained power used in a time trial effort, he admits that with the new team and new coaches, he’s excited to be working on improving them for his last season racing as a professional.

“It was interesting talking to Jon when working through the test about the holes they were finding in my test. Like my cardio and when I think about it, that is what goes first when I’m racing really hard.”

Talking about the test, Dean says all the riders did a 40 minute warm up with Sean Yates telling them a few stories which was nice. “The test then starts at 200 watts” Dean explains “and you’re riding at a cadence of 100 and then each minute, the resistance goes up by 25 watts and I did just over ten minutes before I pulled the pin and couldn’t go any harder.”

“Up to seven minutes, it was very very average riding, concentrating on the RPMs and you’re feeling the pressure but when it got over seven minutes and it was 350, I was finding you had to concentrate a bit more and get into the race position. And then the last two minutes were hard! I think I did 425 and that final minute was truly horrible!”

Asked if it was worse than the pain you get in a race situation and Dean replied “Jon likened it to if you’re a non-climber hanging on to the back of climbers up a long steady drag and it gets harder and harder and at some point you pop. When he said that, I was like, ‘that is my riding all over’ as my climbing is not the best!”

“It’s not a nice experience the test but as a team we’re working with Jon and Trainsharp to create training programmes for every rider to help them achieve their goals which we’re talking about a little here and again in a few weeks when we sit down together”.

“All the riders will have different goals like ‘Tank’ (Lewis) is going to have a crack at racing full time. He’s packed his job in and has a lot of potential to progress but he’s not a rider you would put in the Tour of the Reservoir as it’s so hilly”.

“But now’s the time for Tank to do his test and concentrate on what he is being asked to do during the winter. He may then do the Tour of the Fens for example and people better watch out as he has so much power on the flat, it could be interesting!”

“Once the tests have been done, Jon will sit down with all the figures and then go through them with the riders and a training programme. I think the majority of the riders on the team will have been coached before so they will know what is good and what is bad for them.”


“What Jon is interested in is finding their weak spots and working on them and getting a few more per cent out of the riders and helping us get a few wins under our belts.”

With the 2014 season still a few months away and plans for when the racing starts still on the drawing board, the riders will be looking to get in a few miles in warmer weather and to do that, a training camp in Majorca is planned, as is one in Australia based around the Tour Down Under which they won’t be racing.

That warm weather training will be important, especially in the summer says Dean. “With the winters we have in the UK, I always go away before Christmas for a week. I then relax and go away again in January and February for at least two weeks.”

“Living in the UK, we have to cope with the weather and if it’s really bad, then I’ll jump on the Wattbike or the mountain bike. If the weather is good in the UK though, you can squeeze out a 20-25 hour week in cold weather especially with the good clothing you can get nowadays.”

“But it hammers you. You do 20-25 hours and then the next week you’re doing 10 or 15 hours because you’re tired from riding in the cold. So to be going to Australia for three weeks, all the riders going out there (not the whole team) will benefit from that in the summer because of the base you will get.”

“Who knows, I might even get to go on the beach…”

We’ll have more on the team in the coming months here on VeloUK


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