Date: June 12-19
Location: Whitwick, Leicestershire
Matt Bottrill is well known on the domestic time trial scene, but no one would have predicted he’d be beating pros and coming second to Grand Tour stage winner Alex Dowsett at the National TT Championships. Bottrill’s result was all the more impressive given that he is not even a domestic pro but works 40-hour weeks as a postman and helps look after his three young children.
The run-up to the championships was far from smooth for Bottrill, after he crashed less than a week before the event. He had to change his planned training at the last minute to ensure he was fighting fit to race. We caught up with him after his success had sunk in and found out how his training went in the lead-up to the big event.
I swapped my normal time trial bike to the UCI-legal bike, to get used to the position and did a one-hour ride with a high-cadence section at level three.
As CTT rules are less strict than UCI rules, Bottrill had to use a different bike for the National Championships. Getting used to the position on it was important in the build-up to the event. Doing this initially on a steady ride is often best, as it eases riders into a different position as opposed to going straight into efforts.
Went out on my road bike, as the weather was really poor and did a 90-minute level-two ride. This included two four-minute efforts at level five, which is above 10-mile time trial pace. In the evening, I had a massage from my sports therapist, Jason Lavine.
Back on my normal time trial bike, I did a one-hour ride at level two including two five-minute efforts at level five and then two one-minute maximal efforts.
It is important for testers to include efforts of varying intensity, some above time trial pace, in their training. Doing shorter efforts at above time trial pace helps increase riders’ ability to sustain the pace at which they want to ride in time trials. On these two days, Bottrill did efforts above race pace to help prepare his legs before the time trial on Saturday.
I raced the Hemel Hempstead 10-mile time trial. Before the race, I did a 40-minute warm-up. Unfortunately, I crashed out after hitting a pothole at 34mph, puncturing both tubs and cracking my front wheel. I also sustained bad gravel rash on the right-hand side of my body. However, being picked up by Sean Yates was a bit of a highlight! Once I had cleaned myself up, I used ice, ibuprofen and iodine spray to reduce the swelling and heal the cuts. Once home, I had an ice bath to further reduce the swelling.
Completing a race-pace effort less than a week before a big event is perfect preparation for a rider, as it ensures they are feeling fit and gets them into the ‘race’ frame of mind. However, for Bottrill this did not end well, with a big crash. The swift action he took to reduce swelling and speed healing clearly paid dividends.
The training set was 90mins with 40mins at high level three. Due to crashing, I only went out on the TT bike to turn my legs over, making sure there were no further injuries. Once home, I had another ice bath, then the shock of everything happening seemed to hit me and I went to bed for two hours during the day to help recover.
Training set was 90mins at level three, but I still felt very tired so I rested in the evening and had a full-body massage to check I had not done any damage to my hips and legs. As I was struggling to hold my shoulder properly, I used Kinesio tape to help.
For any rider who has problems before a major goal, ensuring they are fit to ride the event is the top priority. Any training done this close to a major goal will not improve performance; it’s purely about keeping fresh ready for the event.
It’s understandable that Bottrill didn’t go ahead with his planned training efforts on Monday and Sunday but instead focused on recovering from the injuries sustained in his crash. Seeing his sports therapist helped Bottrill to check there was no major damage. He rested, took anti-inflammatory medication and iced his injuries regularly to reduce swelling and promote a faster recovery.
With the National Time Trial Championships just two days away, my coach Bob Tobin said we needed to make a decision: was it worth making the journey? I tested myself to see if the trip would be worth making. Using my UCI-legal TT bike, I did a 10-minute warm-up followed by a 25-mile time trial at sweet-spot, averaging 26mph, and felt good, so I decided to go up to Glasgow.
Ensuring race fitness after a big crash is vital for riders, as racing while injured could have a detrimental impact on the rest of the season, or longer. Bottrill needed to check he was capable of riding and ensure it would be worth his while making the long journey up to Glasgow.
Doing a ride of similar length and pace as the intended race on the bike he would be using, enabled him to see if he would be able to hold his position for the entire event and check he was healthy enough to ride again.
I had taken a few days off work, so in the morning I did 50mins at level two, with two five-minute, level-five intervals (above 10-mile TT pace) on the UCI-legal bike and produced some really good numbers. I then made the six-hour trip up to the race.
With a long drive to Glasgow in the afternoon, Bottrill did his training before setting off. Again, he included two higher intensity efforts during an otherwise steady paced ride. This would fully race-prep his legs the day before the Nationals.
Bottrill uses a power meter for all his training. This is a great method for any rider, especially a time triallist, as it allows them to track in detail how they are riding. Producing good numbers this close to a big event is a great psychological boost as it shows you are in good form – after which, it’s just down to getting it all out on the day.
This article was first published in the July 18 issue of Cycling Weekly. Read Cycling Weekly magazine on the day of release where ever you are in the world International digital edition, UK digital edition. And if you like us, rate us!