Tuesday 15th June

Good training session on the flat between Aguieblanch and Ugine – 65km there and back. Two days off since the last race and I just wanted to sleep this morning. The Cyclo JPP was so tiring that I didn’t do any recovery exercise the following two days and so fell into a sort of total physical stupor. Half an hour on the bike and the legs – and head – were working fine again.
Deliberately avoided slipstreaming Chris on the flats in order to get a more vigorous workout. There was a bit of a headwind on the way to Albertville and that combined with a few incoming telephone calls, lost waterbottles and fountain refills, our pace was a bit slow at just under 30kph. We corrected this on the way back – despite it being a slight overall climb with one short but steep hill and the return pace was over 32kph.

On the way into Albertville we saw the unmistakeable grey and blue shirts of the Sky team coming the other way – with Bradley Wiggins and a couple of others. They were on their way to check out the Col de la Madeline which will be the toughest stage of the Tour de France this year. They were just starting out with the team bus parked about 100m behind them so we went flashing past the other way making them look suitably slow! Thank goodness we hadn’t decided to climb the Col or it would have been very demoralising when they motored past us. We had also been told to expect to encounter Contador and the Astana team doing the same thing that day – but there was no sign of them.

On the way back we had stepped the pace up a little and Chris did his usual little acceleration at the top of each climb – which always makes my legs burn just trying to stay with him. I’ve learned during the long races that a higher cadence permits a much easier adjustment of pace, so by using a higher cadence it is easier to respond to those small accelerations. It seems to take some time to develop the ability to use a high cadence, but also it seems to be something to work towards that really pays off.

Towards the end of the session there is a steep climb and I knew that Chris would want to push it, so I decided to slipstream for a while and recover my legs a bit – whilst hopefully tiring out Chris at the same time. Right on cue at the bottom of the climb Chris challenged me to a race to the top. I stood up and accelerated leaving Chris behind – so he responded by doing the same and quickly caught me and left me well behind – about 30 meters or so. I noticed him slowing as his legs tied up so I went for it again but slightly less hard and surprised him by catching up and overtaking again. Chris thought that he had blown it, but then my legs tied up and he recovered just enough to get back in front to the top. Interestingly my heart rate went up to 181 again – the previous time on this hill it was at 183. In both training and racing, CTS field test, Power Intervals and everything else I cannot get my heart above 173 so have had to settle for 173 as max heart rate reference for establishing training zones. There appears however to be special conditions when the real max is much higher – but whether this is relevant to setting training zones I simply don’t know.

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