In preparation for the 100th anniversary edition of the Giro d’Italia, Team Sunweb’s Laurens ten Dam (NED), Tom Dumoulin (NED) and Chad Haga (USA) headed to Tenerife, Spain for nearly a three-week period of training at high altitude.
Team Sunweb’s Trainer Adriaan Helmantel (NED) explained the motivation behind the addition to the team’s training schedule: “After a period spent at altitude, an athletes red blood cell count is higher meaning that there is more oxygen in their blood. When returning to sea level where there is more oxygen, their body can use the oxygen it consumes much more efficiently – this is hugely beneficial in preparing for races with such elevation as the Giro d’Italia. With our GC ambitions this year, we decided it would strengthen our team to add this familiar preparative method to our training schedule.”
Following a few days of acclimatization riders began training to be in the best shape ahead of their fight for pink. The team’s focus was to up their climbing kilometres and work on their time trial capacities whilst at elevation. Alongside training, there was plenty of time allocated for the riders to rest and give their body the time it needs to recover from the intensity of training at altitude.
“Training at altitude at the same level as an athlete trains at sea level is much more difficult, so whilst in Tenerife the riders spent a lot of time resting and consuming all of the right nutrients we have proven to aid with recovery,” explained Helmantel.
As well as physical benefits, training at altitude also has multiple mental advantages to help prepare for the Giro d’Italia. Being on top of a mountain for three weeks gives a great opportunity for Team Sunweb’s athletes to focus solely on training and recovering. In this way, the riders can prepare in a relaxed, quiet and scenic mountain area for the hectic period that lays ahead.
“It’s not easy for everyone to be on top of a mountain for three weeks and it can be quite isolated at times. It’s a great opportunity for our riders to get into the right mentality ahead of one of the toughest, most intense races of the year. After the camp, the team is ready and extra motivated for a great 100th edition of the Giro d’Italia.”