Wloszczowska and Szafraniec complete World Cup preparations

With the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup coming up quickly, CCC Polkowice riders Maja Wloszczowska and Anna Szafraniec wrapped up their early season training in Spain.

Wloszczowska spent two weeks at the centre for Olympic preparations C.A.R. (Centro de Alto Rendimiento) in Sierra Nevada while her teammate Szafraniec chose a lower altitude venue in Benidorm.

"Here you can feel the atmosphere of hard work, strong motivation and the hope for good results during the season," said 2010 cross country world champion Wloszczowska of the C.A.R. "The centre offers everything a rider needs for training and recuperation,"

"There's no room and time for entertainment. Everybody trains, rests... and likewise day by day. As usual I had brought here books to read and learn as well as films for moments of relaxation, but I haven't touched any of it."

Wloszczowska won silver in Beijing at the Olympic Games and hopes for another strong performance at the London Olympics. She was second last year at the world championship, not helped by a flat tire that cost her some valuable time.

The C.A.R. facilities include an Olympic-size swimming pool, a fully equipped gym, a room for aerobic exercises, basketball and volleyball courts, handball and indoor football court. There is a room for pole-vaulting, wrestling mats, a boxing ring and - an outdoor one, though - running track and sports field. There are places for recuperation - giant freezing rooms for cooling down muscles after trainings, rooms for massage, saunas and jacuzzis.

Daily medical monitoring was part her camp as the facility is at altitude - 2300m. While there, the Polish rider was surrounded by athletes from different sports from a variety of nations, including Sweden, Slovenia, Russia, Spain, Belgium and Australia.

"I especially liked the atmosphere at the gym, where everybody was performing their training tasks with concentration. Everybody knew what they are supposed to do and did it with maximal commitment. There was music in the background, but there was no talking, pauses, only hard work. Its effects will - I hope - serve me during the whole season."

Teammate Anna Szafraniec was also training in Spain, but not in the Sierra Nevada mountains with Wloszczowska. Instead she was with the road cycling riders from Polkowice in Benidorm in Spain.

"I don't feel that well in the mountains," she said, noting that altitude training has historically raised her pulse and blood pressure and causes nosebleeds and sleeping disturbances. "I recuperate really badly and, in fact, after a hard training, I have to rest a few days. There is no way, thus, for me to do the hard work I can do down here."

Her own training approach seemed to suit her well. She said, "I like it a lot. Such a change is a great thing. To be honest, during the training camp I would not feel it even if I were to stay here for a month."

Szafraniec has mostly been on her road bike so she could use her power meter to guide her efforts.

Szafraniec is hoping to go to the Olympic Games in August along with Wloszczowska, but the selections are not definite yet. "I think that the two best riders should go to London, and who that is going to be will turn out at the end of May. The conditions are equal for everybody, there are many races you can show your skills. I think that the conditions of the qualifiers are cleverly arranged, which I cannot say about the qualifiers before the Beijing event." She did not get to go to the Beijing Olympics.

When asked about her thoughts on the eve of the South African World Cup opener, Szafraniec said, "I always feel nervous before the first races of the season. They are like an unknown, after the period of preparations. Besides this year is an exceptional one, an Olympic one, so there will be nerves for sure."

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