Giant-Shimano WorldTour and development team riders recently spent two days working on their technique and skills with Giant's downhill expert Oscar Saiz.
Team trainer Adriaan Helmantel, who was on hand for the practice sessions, spoke about what went on. "Oscar came to train with the team at our new training base in Cambrills, Spain to work on the riders' descending and cornering skills. Even though some of our riders are already very good at this, they all found it to be a very helpful and interesting few days, doing some different training than what they are used to."
Cambrills proved perfect for the team's training, with a good mixture of quiet, flat, hilly and mountainous roads, good strength and conditioning facilities and comfortable weather.
"The first day, the riders did some easy cornering exercises that Oscar assessed in order to see what level each of the riders was at," said Helmantel. "In the evening, Oscar then gave a presentation to the riders highlighting exactly the benefits of being better at descending were - saving time and energy being the key, but also reducing stress."
The following day, the riders went out onto the road to work on some practical drills. "Oscar got the guys to come down a 1km descent with several corners and hairpin bents, and coached them through how best to attack the descent - what lines to take, where to brake and where to let the bike take you," said Helmantel. "Some guys did some one-on-one training here with Oscar talking them through the descent through an ear piece. The experienced gained by the riders is invaluable and will only serve to help them in race situations and this kind of technical training is something we will regularly integrate into our training."
Dutch rider Tom Dumoulin, one of the participating riders, said, "It's always good to learn from someone like Oscar with the experience he has. He made everything specific to how we can get better out on the road and it's great that the team are looking for new ways of making us better riders."
Slovenian Luka Mezgec shared his experience. "The technique training was really efficient. Oscar is a professional guy and he knows what he's doing on a tricky, fast descent. We all got a lot of benefit out of the training, and I can already feel the difference on today's ride. I can't wait for the races to start now."