We were lucky to spend some time with BMC Racing Team members Simon Gerrans and Richie Porte recently, to get the lowdown on race preparation, their favourite races and their thoughts on their Australian fans. Here’s what they had to say.
Simon and Richie, it’s great to meet you and thanks for stopping by today. Let’s start at the beginning: can you talk us through your training program for a race and tell us how you prepare?
Simon: The team prepares differently for different races throughout the season – for example, during the European spring we have a lot one-day racing and the team is often already together because there’s a series of races quite close together. So, during that part of the year, the team will be basically recovering, training, doing short specific training, a lot of reconnaissance type of work, getting familiar with the profile of the races coming up. Then, later in the year, they’re coming to a few more stage races, things like the Tour De France or Tour De Suisse. During that period, we’ll do a lot of our own preparation and training, then then get together just before the racing starts.
Richie: Off the bike, we do so much work on flexibility, core stability, fast reactions and concentration - I think that’s a side of it that people don’t necessarily see. It’s about those important areas where you can gain “little percentage” advantages and it’s vital that we focus on and invest in those one percenters to keep our edge.
Simon: You need to plan to be at your peak fitness at key points throughout the year. Training is important, but wellness play a huge part. Making sure that you’re fit and healthy, but also in a good state of mind and ready to go.
What’s your favourite race?
Simon: I have favourite races at different points of the year. I love starting out my season here in Australia, racing on the sort of roads I grew up riding around is a huge, huge buzz. I love the northern spring classics as well, so the races in the Ardennes region in Belgium and Holland. And then the Tour de France is the biggest and most talked about race in the calendar, so it’s always good to be a part of the tour as well.
What does health and happiness mean to you?
Richie: Health and happiness for me is definitely riding my bike. There’s a reason we are professional cyclists and we are all fortunate enough to call this our job. Not many people have the privilege of being able to do a job that actively promotes health and happiness and I really see the connection between bike riding and living a healthy lifestyle regardless of if you are a professional or someone who just likes to ride their bike.
Simon: Health and happiness are obviously very important for general wellbeing but being a professional athlete, health and happiness have a massive influence on performance. Really, they are two of the things you need to have right in your life before you think about anything else.
What do you think about the Australian fans?
Richie: Firstly, I that Australian fans are some of the most respectful fans, as they give you space. Also, another reason why I think they’re such great fans is because we spend a lot of time over in Europe racing, which means that Aussie fans have to get up at midnight to watch the tour, so I think they are hard-core! I think cycling is getting a much bigger following here in Australia, which is great to see.
Finally, any message for your fans?
Keep on cycling and remember to celebrate life every day!