Hello! Thanks for checking in to read my new blog on Cyclingnews.
As many of you already know, I've started the 2015 season with my new team - Trek Factory Racing. I'm very happy with the new team, of course, it's a good change and a very professional team, and I like the way we work together.
It was nice to start the season at the races in Mallorca a few weeks ago, and then in Murcia. It's always nice when you go with a new team and grab some good results at the beginning of a new season. In Mallorca, I was fourth during one of the days and in Murcia I was so close to the win with a second place, so that was OK.
Unfortunately, I got sick at the Ruta del Sol and had to go home, and that was a disappointment. I think that I was mostly upset because I had ridden well in Murcia, where I felt really good, and I also felt strong during my training rides that week, so I was expecting to do a really good result at the Ruta del Sol. That's how it is though… sometimes the body doesn't do what you want it to do.
It's OK because I ended up recovering really quickly and I was starting to feel good again on the Monday after I returned home from Ruta. I've been able to train normally this week and I'm back to concentrating on my next set of races.
As riders, I think it's important for us to find a good balance between our top form and not getting sick. We train hard everyday, it's common to ride for four or five hours, and sometimes six or seven hours too, even during these winter months where we train and race in the cold weather. There's also bad weather sometimes in the races and so our resistance to becoming sick can become low, and if you have bad luck you can get really sick.
Especially for me, as a climber, I have a naturally very low fat percentage. In December, for example, we did a check with the team doctors and my fat percentage was only 4.2 per cent. I think it was the lowest on the team. I didn't do anything to achieve a low percentage of body fat. I've always been skinny. I remember during the holidays when I was a kid, my friend's mum approached my parents to ask if they thought I was too skinny. She could almost count my ribs. I have never had to watch what I eat at Christmas!
It's also maybe an advantage. The reason why I'm a climber is because I don't have to take so much weight up the climbs. It's also the reason that I get sick maybe a little bit more because I don't have too much fat, so sometimes my resistance for getting sick is a little bit lower.
It's really important for all professional riders to find a balance between the right amount of training, staying healthy and feeling good, and riding your bike. I think riding your bike is really healthy and a good thing, but being a professional bike racer… I don't think it's really that healthy. I think we are really looking for our limits, we're living on the edge sometimes between training so hard and racing so hard in the rain and the cold, especially at this time of the season when we have a lot of changes in the weather conditions. We travel from Australia and Qatar, where it's very warm, to Europe in the rain and the cold. That's all really hard on our bodies. And I'm not even talking about all the crashes, so professional cycling is not really that healthy.
It's also hard to stay healthy for long stretches of time during the season. For example, right now it's only February but the main goal is in July. In the winter we don't train with too much intensity, of course, now we start racing in January more and more, but generally the wintertime is good for building the foundation for the whole season. We train for a lot of hours during the winter and so it's very important that we listen to our bodies. If you feel like you are weak and have a cold then it's always better to take it easy for a few days instead of training for a few hours more because then you can get really sick and lose a whole week of training.
So, now that I'm back to being healthy again, I'm excited to look ahead to my upcoming races. The Tour de France is the biggest goal of the year, of course, but we have a lot more races to do between now and July.
I leave for France today to race in the Classic Sud Ardèche on Saturday and La Drôme Classic on Sunday. They weren't originally on my calendar but because I ended up being sick at the Ruta del Sol, we decided that it would be a good place to gain some rhythm and get some speed back in the legs.
An important race coming up soon will be Tirreno-Adriatico in March, which is an important goal for our team and for myself. It's a big WorldTour race and a lot of GC riders are going to be there. Especially this year, the event will host a lot of big names like Alberto Contador, Chris Froome, Nairo Quintana and Vincenzo Nibali. As far as I know right now, they will all be there.
It's a good goal for me to work toward. It's nice to have so many good riders there because you can see where you are compared to them and it's also an important race for our team. I think it has a good parcours and it's really balanced with a team time trial, an individual time trail, an uphill finish and one stage with some shorter but steeper climbs. There is everything in that race and that's what makes it a good goal.
Wish me luck!