Reckon you’ve got interval sessions nailed? Think you’re working hard? Peiper’s preparation for the 1987 Tour of Flanders may just force a rethink...

Allan Peiper’s pre-Classic intervals were done as part of a four-hour ride. He would warm up for an hour then ride up a five-minute climb at maximum intensity. OK so far?

But the five minutes maximum effort wasn’t followed by a rest interval; instead Peiper went straight into a 15-minute lap, riding really hard back to the bottom of the same climb then launching into the maximum five minutes again. This was repeated six times.

It’s a hard session, but one that a lot of fit racers could do, so long as they had an easy day before and after. But Peiper’s intervals should be set in the context of his two-week build up to the Tour of Flanders.

This started off with a day off after 280km of Milan-San Remo. That was Sunday.On Monday Peiper did five hours steady. Then the intervals were done on Tuesday and Wednesday, that’s 
two gruelling sessions 
back-to-back. But then Peiper raced the semi-Classic Dwars door Vlaanderen on the Thursday, with the idea of simply finishing the event, “Even if it meant finishing on my knees,” he says.

He then had an easy day on Friday, raced the GP E3 on Saturday, and did motor-paced training on Sunday. After that Peiper had an easy day on Monday then raced the Three Days of De Panne on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. That left two days to Flanders, which were spent doing little rides and lots of rest.

It worked though. Peiper finished 10th in the 1987 Tour of Flanders: “My best at that stage, and I reckon the training helped me move up to the next level, from just missing the important break to being in it, but I was so tired during my two-week build-up that I woke one night to go to the bathroom and walked into the wall, because I didn’t know where I was.”