It’s the last of the cycling season’s big 3 – Viva La Vuelta!
The 2022 Vuelta a España spins into action on the 19th of August. So, get your Lycra shirts on and join us for more thrilling action with some of the world’s top riders battling for glory and the coveted red jersey.
Can Primož Roglič do it again? Or will a new king of the hills emerge to take his crown? There are certainly plenty of contenders hungry for a taste of victory. And with question marks over his fitness following his Tour de France misfortune, his closest rivals might be more hopeful of snatching the red jersey.
The La Vuelta gets underway in Utrecht, Netherlands before passing through Belgium and finishing in Madrid. Riders from twenty-three teams will try to keep a cool head as they do battle in the unforgiving Spanish heat.
Along the way, some of the most talented pro riders on the planet will shed blood, sweat and maybe a few tears, as they hunt for wins in the final major road race of the season.
So far the 2022 cycling season has delivered some upsets and surprises, thrilled to a rising Scandinavian star, and exposed the unexpected hazards of the celebratory prosecco on the stage winners podium.
And what of hot-favorite Roglič’s fitness? After sustaining a back injury during the Tour de France, the Slovenian superstar, a man who actually takes early morning runs before getting into the saddle, will no-doubt have his sights on an historic 4th win. His Jumbo Visma teammates will certainly be hoping he is back to his best, and ready to help him power the team to a fantastic 2022 grand tour finale.
Team UAE’s Tadej Pogačar will not be taking part, depriving fans of a potentially thrilling showdown. But Richard Carapaz, Jai Hindley and local hero Enric Mas will be among the top contenders hoping to upset the Jumbo Visma game plan.
The challenges of the Vuelta a España will push competition-weary riders to the limit. And even the elite cycle pros have their limits. Of course, they will have trained hard and prepared physically and mentally for the third and final grand tour of the year. But what are the training techniques and tricks that keep these athletes at the top of their game? And how can the average cycling enthusiast raise their game?
1. Train smart
Work out a clear training plan with a coach. If you can’t afford the luxury of expert coaching, at least get pointed in the right direction and work out a plan, with help from experienced riders, or by following some pro training tips.
Of course, different strokes for different folks – some riders like to train with the lightest bike possible, while others might choose to fill water bottles with lead! There’s no one size fits all, but educating yourself about training zones, HIIT, VO2 max and breathing techniques will pay dividends and allow you to get the most out of your training.
2. Eat well
Eat a balanced, nutritious diet, they tell us, and go easy on the junk food. Not always so easy in practice, especially for busy working people who have to make time for long training sessions. Not all of us have access to a professional nutritionist, but there are plenty of free resources online to help you plan your meals and get the balance right. And with all the helpful online delivery and meal planning services nowadays, it’s easier to eat right, without becoming a Gordon Ramsay.
3. Breathe right!
Learning to breathe right is important in any sporting activity. Breathwork techniques have caught on in a big way in recent times, helping athletes to perform better and recover faster. While the elite riders prepare for events with altitude training, there are more down to earth methods available for those of us without access to mountains.
Vo2 max is a measure of the maximum amount of oxygen your body can utilize during exercise. By using interval training (HIIT) to mix periods of high intensity work into your routine, you can optimize your Vo2 max and cardiovascular fitness.
Respiratory muscle training – RMT – uses resistance to train your breathing muscles, just as with any other muscle. Performing ten minutes of RMT each day can increase your accessible lung volume and reduce breathing rate and heart rate during exercise.
4. Relax… and sleep
Breathwork techniques like 4-step box breathing are used by Navy Seals and others whose work puts them in high stress situations. So, it’s no surprise this has caught on as a method for stress-busting and improved sleep.
And a good night’s sleep, so often the victim of modern lifestyles, is crucial to proper recovery for athletes and anyone who pushes themselves to their physical limits.
By learning some basic meditation, relaxation and breathing techniques, it becomes easier to let go of stress and allow your mind and body the time to rest and repair.
We hope this year’s Vuelta a España will deliver all the thrills and drama of another classic grand tour event. It has been a great cycling season for Australia’s Jai Hindley and Denmark’s Jonas Vingegaard. We can hardly wait to see who will join them on this, the 77th edition of a classic cycling event. Viva La Vuelta!