Tanned and grinning, Davide Martinelli is back from his Tour Of Oman, a stage race with rather varied terrain and a mountain finish on the Green Mountain. Six stages in total, boasting distances of up to 179 kilometres (110 miles). Definitely a very good experience training-wise, enough to provide Davide – who went from strength to strength, till the last day of the Arabic competition- with some solid understanding. Let’s try to follow up with the rider from Lombardy to get to know his personal emotions and his progress in terms of fitness.
“Season’s debut feels good, always, but especially when it takes place at a temperature of 30°C and in prime conditions: you get used to that climate right away and you start thinking that you’d love to race in that kind of weather all year round. After a few stages the peloton moved inland and over there the temperature rose up to 35°C. During the first days I had to protect the skin with sunscreen cream SPF 100 to avoid sunburn; then I brought it down to a sun protection factor of 50. Quite a meticulous work, as you have to be careful with the slits on the helmet: sun rays get through them and onto the forehead ”.
The race always provides for a severe judge and it is able to make things plain to the athletes. “As a matter of fact, I was racing with riders from Australia and Argentina. During the first part of the race they definitely seem to have something more in their legs. When you train at home, mostly motor pacing, you just can’t fully replicate the race pace and a pedal stroke that can be kept consistent all day long . Almost a week in the race, the situation was quite different. As expected, I finished the race stronger. And this is a good sign”.
As always, managing the training workload and taking some precautions are crucial: “Beyond question that once you are back to Italy, you have to be careful not to get sick. There is a temperature drop of almost 30°C. The human body gets used to the warm climate right away, and relaxes. For this reason, back to Lombardy and to a temperature of 5°C, you have to stay on guard. To prevent any possible health condition, I wrap up warm before going out for a training session, far more than I would normally do ”.
What happens to your body during a stage race early in the season is easily explained.
“There is no doubt that, as I was in pretty good shape, I managed to bring my fitness level close to last year’s best, that was around 390 watts. This means that I keep growing from the point of view of the physical development. I think that the performance can be increased on the order of 2% year on year, until reaching the full potential at 28-30 years of age. How am I better than in 2017? Clearly a Grand Tour and 2 seasons as a pro in the legs. Try to think what an expert athlete like Valverde has in store, with his wealth of experience”.
Let’s go back to your last performance and to your improvement in terms of conditioning. “In Oman I have been able to sustain hard efforts alternated with very intense and prolonged efforts. Once, I recorded a session during which we kept riding at a pace of 450 watts, for several minutes. This is a kind of effort that is difficult to replicate while training. Also, add the fact that it is prolonged, it lasts hours during a race. As I keep saying, the level of the World Tour is very high and you must be ready for it”.
Where are you now in terms of physical condition? “The fitness indicators show that I am in good shape; I think I am around 85-90% of my peak condition and I will try to keep it going for a good period of time. Then, when we will be close to important events, as per team’s plans, we will crank our training up with 15-20 days of hard workouts, longer and more intense, to be 100% ready. This could happen before Giro, if I am selected for it. Up to now, the team has not yet decided whether I will participate or not.
The absolute value of the indicators can hardly grow any further because if we consider the graph of average watt output, we find that as a marker it has remained pretty much constant, perhaps even in a slight decrease. But this is a value that needs to be interpreted with care. As a matter of fact, even if it is true that during three hours the wattage has been steady, it should be taken into account that during the last hour we sustain some all-out bursts that are what will make the difference . Now, as a consequence, I know I have done another step forward, compared to when I joined the race in Oman. The real skill now lies in knowing how to manage yourself. As soon as I came back, I had a couple of days of active rest.
I preferred turbo training for rainy days and then I added a hard training session on Wednesday, as there was really no time to fit a ‘two-on-one-off’ or ‘three-on-one-off’ [two days or three days of hard workout followed by a rest day – Ed.] because last Saturday and Sunday I went to France for a race in the worst cold ever, and tomorrow I will be at the start line in Belgium, at Le Samyn: the forecast says the temperature will be something like -2/-5 C, even -10C! Good being back to Europe!”