With the OVO Energy Women’s Tour right around the corner, Coffee Stop caught up with Rebecca Charlton on what to expect from this year’s events and some pro-tips for us all to benefit from…
Rebecca Charlton is an ambassador for OVO Energy, the UK’s largest independent energy technology company and proud sponsor of the OVO Energy Women’s Tour: http://www.ovoenergy.com/
When the Women’s Tour launched its inaugural event in 2014 it fast secured its spot on the calendar as the stage race in which the best of the professional peloton wanted to compete.
With the 2018 edition just days away now and new title sponsor OVO Energy confirming the news that there will be complete parity in prize money between the Women’s Tour and the men’s Tour of Britain this year, the race has further cemented itself as a leader in the Women’s World Tour.
I’ll be bringing you highlights of all the action on ITV4 each evening at 9pm from the 13th to the 17th June, starting in Framlingham for Stage 1 before the riders battle it out on the roads of Daventry, Royal Leamington Spa and Worcester, finishing up in Colwyn Bay for the conclusion of this always hard-fought five-day race.
Previous editions have been won by multi-discipline talent Marianne Vos, TT specialist Lisa Brannauer, Olympic Silver medallist Lizzie Deignan and most recently the double Polish National Champion Katarzyna Niewiadoma.
Fourteen of the world’s best teams will be fielding this race meaning yet again we can expect fireworks, fast bunch gallops and break-aways but what can we learn from the women at peak form that race day-after-day to tactical perfection?
If you’ve ever followed the routine of the pro-peloton on race day you’ll notice that the riders will be sat on rollers or a turbo trainer pre- and post-stage. This isn’t just a bit of extra panic training but a vital part of their warm up and down during an important stage race. After crossing the line you’ll see the riders complete media duties with the likes of me, including winners’ interviews, before hopping back on their bikes to turn the legs, keeping them fresh for the next day.
Contesting a bunch sprint, then stopping completely isn’t conducive to a good performance on the following stage so a static routine allows that recovery process to start effectively. It’s also crucial to replenish the fuel burned on the stage and re-hydrate.
While the rest of us may not have another day of racing to focus on, we do need to place a priority on recovery in order to improve on the bike and maximise training gains. This can be achieved by gently building up the pace in training rather than sprinting out of the front door and equally allowing yourself at least ten minutes at the end of your ride to spin your legs out.
When you arrive home, a recovery drink such as my favourite go to, SiS Strawberry Rego, is a quick and easy way to replenish protein, salts and carbohydrates. Another simple one for me is a banana and a glass of milk. It all helps in the immediate period after a ride and should be followed up by a balanced meal. A pro’s common saying is “if you can sit, don’t stand, if you can lie down, don’t sit…” and so forth, so put your feet up where you can!
Ask any of the teams at this year’s OVO Energy Women’s Tour if you can be at the top of your game all year round and you’ll get a unanimous “no”. It’s important to recognise when your body needs a rest and when it’s the time to push hard. There will be times when a rider’s race schedule will be heavy but they will still peak for their big season objectives and have times when their bodies can recover. When you’re on an upwards trajectory in fitness it’s tempting to want to build on that intensity, even when you’re tired, ill, or in need of a break. Looking at your calendar, planning long-term goals and accepting fluctuations in your form is healthy.
Any pro rider will tell you how important it is that you feel good in your clothing and one of the most crucial items of cycling kit you need to get right is your shorts. Everyone is different and what works for your club mates may not work for you, so it’s really important to find that perfect chamois and performance cut and have tried it out in training before you ride a significant event. Many of the professionals we’ll see in this year’s OVO Energy Women’s Tour have worked with brands to develop the ultimate race fit in their team’s kit, which happily we can benefit from. If your lycra is too big you can run into all sorts of problems. If your Lycra has folds, slipping bibs or any movement you could experience sores, rubbing or even minor cuts in your skin which is the last thing you want when you’re focusing on pushing yourself on the bike or simply enjoying the ride! Not only is it a matter of comfort in the shorts department but when your bike apparel fits well, feels good and looks great it will significantly up your confidence and improve your overall cycling experience.
During the OVO Energy Women’s Tour we’ll see the riders spend five days in the saddle in an often aggressive position but they will have got that position absolutely nailed in training over the winter so they don’t spend any time in discomfort. Simply looking at the size of your derrière will not necessarily determine the type of saddle you need. The width of your sit-bones and the unique position you adopt on the saddle will offer a better indication. The saddle that came with your bike may well fit you perfectly but if you find you’re constantly shifting yourself back and forward, or experiencing any pain or numbness, don’t ignore it! You may benefit from adjusting the angle of your saddle or moving it back or forward along the rails and if this doesn’t help you may want to replace the saddle with one that feels more suited to you.
Ultimately, there’s a lot we can learn from the women’s pro peloton when it comes to style and being completely at one with the bike. They’re had many seasons under their belts, often as juniors, neo-pros and senior elite years before being selected for the OVO Energy Women’s Tour and we can benefit from watching their flawlessly efficient pedal-strokes, descending grace and smooth climbing to the point we often can’t quite fathom the true gradients being scaled from the view on our TV screens. Strong cores, relaxed shoulders, the ability to eat and drink well on the bike and absolute power transfer. It’s a beautiful sport and we’ll see the best it has to offer on June 13th – see you there!