Tom Pidcock‘s decision to skip the Cyclocross World Championships, as the holder of the rainbow jersey, raised a few eyebrows, but it appears to have paid off as the Ineos Grenadiers rider hit the 2023 season running at the Volta ao Algarve. And it’s going to be a busy one, as his coach Kurt Bogaerts explained to Cyclingnews.
“We do a lot,” noted the Belgian. “It’s crucial that when you have this kind of programme that you work in steps and you take one step at a time and try to achieve one goal at a time.”
While his old ‘cross rivals Mathieu Van der Poel and Wout van Aert were preparing for – and then battling for – the world title in Hoogerheid, Pidcock was camped up in southeast Spain. He caught the end of the race in a hotel lobby full of Van der Poel’s teammates, but his mind was already on other things.
“We wanted to first have some rest then do a big block of training to make a good base to build on in the next weeks,” Bogaerts said.
Pidcock was the latest in a growing list of pro riders to check into the Syncrosfera hotel run by Alexandr Kolobnev. Although located at sea level in the peloton’s most popular winter training destination, the hotel features rooms in which air pressure can be adjusted to simulate various levels of altitude.
Despite being banned by some nations, with Italians unable to use them anywhere in the world, it’s a relatively common practice – usually done using a physical tent – for riders to achieve the blood-boosting effects of low-oxygenated altitudes without going to traditional training locations like Mount Teide.
“We tried to find a place where you can also train in good weather on roads that are suitable to prepare the Classics. He didn’t sleep massively high – I don’t think that’s the goal this time of the year,” Bogaerts said, confirming that Pidcock slept around 2000 metres for the duration of his stay.
“It wasn’t specifically for the Classics. It was more to use this later, building up so that if we go back to altitude later in the year it’s less of a shock to the body. When he goes back home to Andorra he will adapt easier and be able to train quicker.”
Pidcock won’t be back home all that much, with a packed spring schedule in Northern Europe. He’ll race the ‘Opening Weekend’ of Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne this weekend, before going on to ride the main Flemish Classics period in late March. But then he’s also going on to the hillier Ardennes Classics and through to Liège-Bastogne-Liège…
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