From winter training in Europe to starting the season in the southern hemisphere - a shock to the system?
The Vuelta San Juan is currently underway in Argentina, the Tour Down Under is already finished in Australia and the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race is on BORA – hansgrohe’s program this Sunday. The journey from the Central European winter to Argentina and Australia is a trip into summer in the southern hemisphere. In addition to the stress of travelling and the time zone differences, the summer temperatures can be a particular challenge for professional cyclists. How do the riders deal with it, how long does the adaptation take and what are the options for preparation: Dan Lorang, Sam Bennett and Marco Haller talk about the first races of the season in the southern hemisphere, as well as their associated challenges and advantages.
"Time change, heat and travel stress are the biggest challenges." - Dan Lorang
Dan Lorang is the sports science mastermind at BORA - hansgrohe as Head of Performance.
Dan, where do you see the biggest challenge to riders when they travel from the European winter to the southern hemisphere summer and start the season there?
Time change: In the case of the Tour Down Under, it’s 9.5 hours.
Suddenly summer: Winter training at 10°C and the start of the season at 40°C, as is currently the case in Argentina, is definitely a big challenge.
Travel stress: A very long total travel time of up to 30 hours is exhausting and remains in the body for several days.
Time and temperature change: How many days do you plan for adaptation?
For the time change, we plan on one day of adaptation per hour of time change. For the Tour Down Under, that would be about 10 days until one can overcome jet lag. For quicker adaptation, it makes sense to adjust one’s sleeping rhythm at home before the trip.
Heat adaptation takes a little longer, 14 days are expected for the best possible adaptation to a new climate.
How can riders prepare for the temperature change at home?
We have several options: After normal training outside, they can keep the warm clothing on and continue to ride indoors on the roller for 30-60 minutes at a relaxed pace. The body's core temperature rises slightly and, if the method is repeated regularly, the first adaptation to warmer temperatures can take place at home. In addition, sauna sessions and hot baths help to cope with the temperatures in Australia and Argentina faster and better.
What are the risks of returning to the European winter?
The vulnerability of the immune system is definitely the biggest risk when returning. New time zone changes, stress from the race and suddenly being thrown into winter again. Here we have to make sure with respect to load management that the riders get enough time to recover before the next race or training block.
"The first ride in Argentina feels like your head is already here and your legs are still in Europe!" - Sam Bennett
Sam Bennett won the first stage of the Vuelta a San Juan in 40°C plus temperatures.
Summer season start in the southern hemisphere: a shock to the system?
Definitely a shock to the system! The funny thing is that I know the situation and am mentally prepared for it. However, the body needs a little longer to adjust after the journey and so on the first trip it feels as if my head is already in Argentina and my legs are still in Europe.
How do you deal with the heat?
When I'm in good shape, it's much easier for me to adapt. So for me, good winter training is the first step to successful adaptation.
How happy are you about getting two weeks of summer in January?
A few weeks of summer and at the same time the first race kilometres, for me that’s a perfect start to the season. The only important thing for me is that I don't lose too much training time due to travel and jet lag and that I stay in rhythm.
"Early to bed, early to rise, in order to have a few hours less jet lag in Australia." - Marco Haller
Marco Haller has already started the season for the fourth time at the Tour Down Under and loves the Australian summer.
What is the biggest challenge for you at the start of the season in Australia?
I don't find the temperature adjustment particularly difficult, but the time change is definitely the bigger challenge for me.
How did you prepare for the trip at home?
I went early to bed, and was early to rise, in order to have a few hours less jetlag in Australia.
Happy to escape the Austrian winter?
Even though I really like the winter at home, Adelaide in January is just fantastic for a professional rider. The hills, the weather, the atmosphere at the Tour Down Under. This is my fourth time and I really enjoy starting my season in Australia.
Sweaty, salty, thristy - Florian Lipowitz after stage 2 at the Vuelta a San Juan in Argentina