Stars shooting fast in February.
Pro bike racers are super fit and these days they are super fit right from the gun.
Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) pointed that out just the other day after he won the Vuelta a Andalucia. The Green Bullet is firing on all cylinders and it’s February, folks.
Fewer riders seem to ease into the season and Valverde put it this way: “It’s true that the top guns are getting used to winning early in the season. This is not as it used to be anymore. We all want to find sensations early. It’s a matter of getting your season goals in good condition but not ruling out other chances in important races. You can’t leave it all to the Giro of the Tour.”
That quote reminds us of what Garmin-Sharp’s Jonathan Vaughters said about his riders coming into January camp last season too hot, already in top fitness. “Riders were producing some of their highest power numbers of the year at the January training camp,” said Vaughters. “We were thinking, ‘Wouldn’t it be a good idea to push that back a little bit?’” This season Garmin bucked the time-honored training schedule and pushed their camp to February.
Though we’ve barely gotten the season underway, star rider like Valverde, Cadel Evans, Chris Froome, Rigoberto Uran, Tom Boonen, Taylor Phinney, Marcel Kittel, Alberto Contador, Tejay van Garderen and Joaquim Rodriguez have all produced wins or podium placings.
Contador’s pistol fire victory salute was getting rusty but after his win on stage 4 of the Tour of Algarve, his aim is improving.
These days nobody gets too many days off and the question is nearly always “What have you done for me lately?” Mark Cavendish may have two books to his credit but he needs to keep the wins coming and catch back up to Kittel. The Manxman and Peter Sagan finally got their first wins of the season and it wasn’t a moment too soon.
We can always count on a few guys to stick with the old school, race myself into form but increasingly the methodology is win early, never stop training and land a few psychological blows in February.
After all, for every Chris Froome and Alejandro Valverde, there’s Andy Schleck, slowly and steadily working his build. Schleck the Younger was 72nd in the Tour of Oman and nobody is accusing him of flying too fast, too soon.