An interview with Chris Carmichael, May 11, 2004
High performance is the name of the game for Chris Carmichael of Carmichael Training Systems, whether it's designing a training program for Lance Armstrong, coaching the Tour Of Hope Team Of Twenty for their cross-country odyssey this fall or helping any cyclist or runner get the most out of their experience. While in Georgia recently to work with Armstrong in his Tour de Georgia win, Carmichael spoke to Cyclingnews European Editor Tim Maloney about Lance Armstrong's chances in this year's Tour de France, and his new CTS Performance Center in Philadelphia, PA.
Nicknamed "The Kid" at the beginning of his cycling career, Carmichael still has the friendly, open face and articulate enthusiasm we remember when we met him two decades ago when he was on the 7-Eleven cycling team.
Cyclingnews: After winning the Tour de Georgia, how does Lance Armstrong look to you as he prepares for his attempt to win his sixth straight Tour de France in July?
Chris Carmichael: Lance is looking good in Georgia. He was strong there and is on the right track to be ready for the Tour in July. The next two months will be full of hard, specific preparation for Lance. To win the Tour is never easy.
CN: What will LA be doing in the next month leading up to the Dauphine Libere to prepare for the Tour?
CC: Lance will ride the Tour du Languedoc-Rousillon [formerly the Midi Libre] along with the Dauphine Libere to prepare for the Tour. This will be the core of his final preparation but his training will focus on climbing at specific training intensities and pedal cadences to increases his repeatable climbing power while reducing the muscle stress (watts per-pedal stroke) at this specific power output.
CN: Can you talk about Lance's specific preparation for the ITT on l'Alpe d'Huez?
CC: Lance will be testing new technology in preparation for this Tour stage. He will also be focusing on the landscape, each turn, change in grade, and sustainable power for specific time periods, pedal cadence. The duration of sustainable power is critical for the ITT up l'Alpe d'Huez, meaning it is not simply a "flat line" of average power the entire time trial. It will vary given the grade and duration of each section of the TT.
CN: So what is your view of LA's chances of winning his sixth consecutive Tour this July?
CC: Of course, I am not completely objective on this issue but I don't think it will be close so long as the next 8 weeks go as expected.
CN: Besides the obviously difficult physical challenges it takes to win a sixth consecutive Tour de France, how will Armstrong handle the psychological pressure to win that is sure to be there for him?
CC: This is where Lance is most powerful; I have never seen another athlete with this capability from a psychological stand point. Lance is the master of psychological warfare before and during the Tour. Lance knows that to win he must attack, take the risks necessary to be successful; few athletes have the willingness to do this. It is because he isn't afraid to lose that makes him so successful. Most athletes fear to attack, to take risks to achieve greatness because they are afraid of the "what if... it doesn't work then I may not be second, third or fourth" Lance cares only about winning; second, third will not work for him. Lance is willing to risk losing in order to win. Pretty simple strategy that can be applied to many aspects of anyone's life. True greatness only comes with real risks..
CN: Moving on to your new CTS Performance Center - how did you get started with the concept?
CC: We already have one PC in the Aspen Club and when Jay Snider approached me about his new Cadence Performance and Cycling Center, I thought it would be a great fit .
The idea is to combine a top-end bicycle shop with our Performance Center, where we perform athlete testing, biomechanical analysis and fitting as well as coaching. If you buy a $5000 bicycle, this can help you use it more effectively. If you buy a Ferrari, the dealer will help you learn to drive it... we're not aiming to be health clubs, but to help anyone, from elite athletes to MS 150 riders get more out of cycling.
CN: Do you see your CTS Performance Centers as a development of your current on-line coaching business?
CC: We believe that out CTS brand is strong and well positioned and our Performance Centers are a natural extension of our Internet coaching business. We can combine this with hands-on coaching and testing, augmented with internet sessions.
At this point, Jay Snider joined the discussion. with Carmichael. Snider is a partner in a venture capital firm and a cycling fanatic who has ridden most of the major passes in Europe. Snider wanted to know whether Cyclingnews was going to be at the Giro d'Italia, which this year includes his favorite climb, the Mortirolo.
CN: How did you and Chris develop the idea to include his Performance Centers in your new Cadence Performance and Cycling Center?
Jay Snider: We invited Chris to become involved because we wanted to create more than a bike shop. Cadence is a cycling culture center and we have a shared vision with CTS on this. We've created a strategic alliance to bring the Performance Center to Philadelphia. You know, it's not like a family bike shop at all; Cadence is for serious riders.
CC: We hope to open about 15 of these CTS Performance Centers in the next five years. That's our goal.
JS: We've brought in top people to run our Cadence Performance and Cycling Center operation, with Matt Heitmann as managing partner, while experienced pro riders Brian Walton and Ryan Oelkers will manage the CTS Performance Center.
CN: Chris, tell us a bit about your new book.
CC: My new book will come out in late July; it's called "Food For Fitness". I've tried to take the confusion out of sports nutrition with a new eating program. I've put a lot of work into this book and hope readers will get a lot out of it.
After our interview with Chris Carmichael, he headed off to the grand opening of Cadence Performance and Cycling Center to sign copies of his current book "The Ultimate Ride".
Other Talking Cycling Interviews
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