The Science and Practice of Training Elite Road Cyclists

May 13, 2019

Sports Physiologist and Performance Nutritionist David Bailey, PhD is the Head of Performance for the Bahrain-Merida Pro Cycling Team. He manages and delivers scientific support to elite athletes competing at the highest level in international cycling. He also coaches, providing training prescription, nutritional support and performance interventions. He has worked with World Champions and Olympic medalists for the past 15 years.

In this podcast, Sports Psychologist Simon Marshall, PhD talks with David about his role supporting a team of elite road cyclists. They discuss what it takes to prepare athletes for the Tour de France, and some of the subtle aspects of training and physical development that lead to improved performance. David weighs in on doping controversies, and also offers tips for amateur cyclists and “weekend warriors”.

Here’s the outline of this interview with David Bailey:

[00:00:11] Previous podcasts featuring Simon Marshall, PhD: 1, 2, 3, 4

[00:00:26] Head of Performance for the Bahrain Merida Professional Cycling Team.

[00:02:28] The Brownlee brothers.

[00:03:36] Some of David’s previous research; Studies: Thompson, D., et al. "Prolonged vitamin C supplementation and recovery from eccentric exercise." European journal of applied physiology 92.1-2 (2004): 133-138; and Bailey, D. M., et al. "Influence of cold-water immersion on indices of muscle damage following prolonged intermittent shuttle running." Journal of sports sciences 25.11 (2007): 1163-1170.

[00:06:29] Anatomy of a road cycling team; Olympic sport vs. professional sport.

[00:09:54] Friction between science and practice.

[00:12:20] Mistakes made along the way.

[00:14:17] Changing your relationship with failure and defining success.

[00:17:55] Marginal gains.

[00:18:18] Dave Brailsford.

[00:23:22] Preparing a team for the Tour de France.

[00:29:59] The physical demands and support needed for competing cyclists.

[00:35:59] Richie Porte.

[00:36:44] Body types that tend to be successful.

[00:38:30] Identifying new up-and-coming riders.

[00:41:00] A typical day for the head of performance.

[00:45:33] Training regimens.

[00:50:11] Simon Yates and Adam Yates; Aaron Thomas.

[00:51:32] Chris Froome; Lance Armstrong.

[00:52:10] Technologies for measuring performance and adaptation.

[00:58:38] Partnering with McLaren Formula One team.

[01:00:45] Effects of cycling order and time in a drafted position on overall performance.

[01:02:56] Chris Boardman has set up a wind tunnel in the UK for amateurs to rent.

[01:05:01] Advice for amateur cyclists and weekend warriors.

[01:08:43] Functional threshold power (FTP) test.

[01:12:29] MAF training.

[01:13:52] Tools for the amateur cyclist.

[01:14:04] Study: Sanders, Dajo, et al. "Analysing a cycling grand tour: Can we monitor fatigue with intensity or load ratios?." Journal of sports sciences 36.12 (2018): 1385-1391.

[01:15:46] Performance enhancing drugs; How to define doping?

[01:17:46] Geraint Thomas.

[01:22:02] Therapeutic Use Exemptions (TUE).

[01:25:14] Vincenzo Nibali.

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