Belgium Team Prepares for Beijing
Belgian candidates for the Olympic cycling team were tested this week in Luvain
to prepare for the weather conditions expected in China. Photo Journal by Yoni
By Yoni Peeters
All of the Belgian athletes who are candidates for a selection for the
Olympics were required to go to the University of Louvain for a tests to
see how they responded to the extreme heat and humidity of Bejing. The weather
conditions at the Olympic events will be one factor that most riders will find
demanding along with the air pollution. I have to admit being in the simulated
environment with the heat and humidity was down right uncomfortable; I could
only stand about half an hour while taking the photos before running out and
cooling down for a bit.
Philippe Gilbert the winner of Omloop het Volk warms up and chats with Dirk De
Wolf. Jelle Vanendert is in the background riding. Photo © Yoni Peeters
On Wednesday last week, exactly 100 days before the start of the Olympic
Games it was Philippe Gilbert, Jelle Vanendert (Française des Jeux) and Maxime
Montfort's (Cofidis) turn to participate in the testing. Earlier in the day,
Frederik Willems (Liquigas) and Maarten Wynants (Quickstep) did there training
Montfort and a technician watch the computer readings on Gilberts computer.
Photo © Yoni Peeters
Click on picture for a larger image.
Maxime Monfort looks a bit flushed from the heat. - Philippe Gilbert gets hooked
up for the tests Photo © Yoni Peeters
In a climate-controlled room they simulated the parcours on bikes. After the
warming-up, the test was subdivided into three parts of 20 minutes each in which
the cyclists did the three climbs of the race.
The technicians watch as the riders suffer in the heat and humidity. From left
to right Montfort, Gilbert and Vanendert. Why don't they turn the fans on? Photo © Yoni Peeters
Not only was the parcours simulated in the test; perhaps more importantly the
expected heat and humidity in the Chinese capital on the day of the race later
this summer. The temperature was set at 35°C (98 F) and a miserable 70%
Maxime keeps his cool. Photo © Yoni Peeters
The riders efforts were measured in the training drill at a max 5.5
After 1.5 hours they had lost 1.6 liters of sweat (2 kilos). At the Olympics,
this showed the riders would have to consume 2 bottles of fluid for each circuit
of the race to keep up with the loss and not dehydrate.
The effort of a climb begins to show as the Gilbert and Vanendert's concentrate
and their skin glistens with sweat. Photo © Yoni Peeters
During these efforts, several measurements were recorded and then analyzed.
The doctors tracked the riders temperature, urine, production of lactic acid,
concentration of salt in the sweat. Each of these was then analyzed to see what
could be done to mitigate the weather conditions at the Olympics. For example:
the higher the concentration of salt in their perspiration (sodium loss) would
help to determine the level of supplementation for the riders in their water
during the race.
A technician takes a blood sample from Gilbert to measure lactic acid. Photo © Yoni Peeters
Philippe Gilbert takes the test in stride and gives a cheerful smile.
Photo © Yoni Peeters
Before heading to the Tour, Philippe Gilbert will race in Picardie, Lorraine,
Venendaal and Tour du Suisse. Montfort's next races will be Catalonië and the
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