Louis Delahaye is a trainer with the 'Belkin' cycling team. Louis, how do you plan all the height internships in your schedule?
In the run-up to a new season, first of all the season goals are determined. Then it is determined whether the rider in question is a responder or non-responder (does he or she respond well to altitude training).
If a rider is a responder, we will see if we can apply altitude. We can do this by living and sleeping at altitude like in an altitude training or using a high altitude tent. We always go for at least 2 weeks. Optimal is actually 3 weeks but this is sometimes not always feasible because of our program and then we make it sometimes a combination with the height tent.
We ensure that we always come back a week before the peak race. We have sorted this out for each rider. Some riders have their best level after 10 days and sometimes it takes a little longer. Sometimes the peak is also 3 weeks after the internship. This year we choose to come back a week before the tour. Then the peak is in the difficult last week. For example, Pieter Weening returned 3 weeks before the Girostart. It is individual and is adapted to the program and person.
We usually go to the Spanish Sierra Nevada because this has an ideal height of 2300 m. We sleep there but also try to complete part of the training sessions above 2000 m. With altitude-inexperienced riders, a slightly lower altitude of 1850 m. Such as the Swiss St. Moritz and the French Font Romeu is a good place for a traditional altitude training.
A height internship is also suitable for all types of riders, whether they are leaders or servants or other types, provided they are more responsive. For classification riders it is so good because you have to get fit and have a quick recovery in a stage race. This goes well with the relatively long and calm training sessions you do at height. For the classic cyclists you use the height training to lay a good foundation. Then you can train the necessary sharpness at sea level with specific training.