[SPORTS] Allen Lim - Ffloyd Landis' (Tour de France Winner) Sports Physiologist
- ALLEN LIM, PH.D.
(720) 470-9454 / (303) 642-3776
Allen received his Ph.D. in Integrative Physiology at the University
of Colorado at Boulder. Prior to obtaining his doctorate, Allen did
his undergraduate training in Exercise Science at the University of
California at Davis and completed his master's degree in Exercise
Allen's coaching experience is extensive. He guided the UC Davis
Cycling Team to its first national championship and coached the
resident national cycling team at the US Olympic Training Center. He
has also coached numerous amateur, professional, and Olympic
athletes. He founded and acted as the full-time director of the
Celestial Seasonings Professional Cycling Team and served as a guest
director of the 7Up Professional Cycling Team.
At the University of Colorado at Boulder, Allen in conjunction with
his peers in the Applied Exercise Science Laboratory completed much
of the groundbreaking research in the use of power and heart rate
monitoring in optimizing cycling performance. He continues to be
actively involved in medical and exercise performance research.
In addition to working at Thrive HFM, he is currently the Director
of Development for the Boulder Life Performance Center as well as
the Director of Education for the Saris Cycling Group, a
manufacturer of performance training products located in Madison WI.
Allen is passionate and philosophical about sports training,
speaking regularly across the country on the topic as an
enthusiastic and innovative educator.
Allen Lim, Ph.D. Bio
Dr. Lim received his Ph.D. in Integrative Physiology at the
University of Colorado at Boulder. Prior to obtaining his doctorate,
Dr. Lim did his undergraduate training in Exercise Science at the
University of California at Davis and completed his master's degree
in Exercise Physiology.
Dr. Lim has extensive coaching experience. He guided the UC Davis
Cycling Team to its first national championship and coached the
resident national cycling team at the US Olympic Training Center. He
has also coached numerous amateur, professional, and Olympic
athletes. He founded and acted as the full-time director of the
Celestial Seasonings Professional Cycling Team and served as a guest
director of the 7Up Professional Cycling Team.
At the University of Colorado at Boulder, Dr. Lim in conjunction
with his peers in the Applied Exercise Science Laboratory completed
much of the groundbreaking research in the user of power and heart
rate monitoring in optimizing cycling performance. He continues to
be actively involved in medical and exercise performance research.
In addition to his role as the Director of Education for the Saris
Cycling Group, Dr. Lim is also a partner of ThriveHFM, a health and
fitness management consulting group, as well as the Director of
Development for the Boulder Life Performance Center. Dr. Lim is
passionate and philosophical about sports training, speaking
regularly across the country on the topic as an enthusiastic and
Q&A: Creating America's Next Cycling Icon, with Allen Lim
An exclusive conversation with Floyd Landis's training adviser
By Aaron Gulley
Lance Armstrong's seventh and final triumphant parade down Paris's
Champs-Élysées last July 24 marked the end of one competition and
the beginning of a new one: the race to see which American pro
cyclist will inherit the Texan's mantle. Native Pennsylvanian and
Mennonite-turned-badass Floyd Landis bolstered his claim to the
inheritance by racking up some imposing early-season results this
spring, including two individual time-trial stage wins and first
overall at three prestigious weeklong stage races: the Tour of
California, Paris-Nice, and the Tour de Georgia.
Credit part of Landis's success to Allen Lim, a 33-year-old
physiology-and-biomechanics Ph.D. from the University of Colorado at
Boulder who met the cyclist at a training camp in January 2005 and
immediately took on the role of number cruncher on his training
team. "Floyd impressed me that week because he didn't have the
pretense of so many athletes out there," says Lim, whose work with
Landis and U.S. pro team TIAA-CREF is fast earning him a reputation
among the cycling elite. "I became really invested in helping him
AARON GULLEY sat down with Lim to ask him about his power-meter-
based training methodologiesand why that research might just put
Floyd Landis in yellow at the finish of the 2006 Tour de France.
Outside: Floyd has had an impressive spring. Have you been surprised
by how successful he's been?
Lim: Not at all. What people don't realize is that these results are
a product of the intelligent decisions Floyd made last season and
all the hard work he's donelast year, in the off-season, and over
the last decade. He pulled out of last year's Vuelta [a España]
before burying himself, which gave him more time to recover in the
fall, allowed him to have a productive winter, and has brought him
some good results this spring.
I'm sure you hear the inevitable grumble that Floyd is peaking too
early. How do you respond?
That's ridiculous. People haven't seen Floyd at even 90 percent yet
this year. Based on how he feels and the numbers he produces in
training, Floyd is going to shock everyone when he hits his peak.
People have no idea what's coming.
Do you think it's partly a mental thing, a question of momentumonce
you start winning, you're more likely to win?
Definitely. Floyd has so much more confidence this year. He's a
different rider. Like on Brasstown Bald [the decisive climbing stage
in the Tour de Georgia], you could just see it in his eyes: There
was no way that Tom [Danielson] was going to drop him. Floyd had
just decided in his mind that he wouldn't let it happen. And once
you believe, once you learn to win, you become really hard to beat.
How are you training Floyd?
My relationship with Floyd is that of a resource, a training
adviser. If he has a question about some aspect of his training or
performance, I'll do the research and hopefully give him a practical
answer. My primary role right now is to help monitor his pre-Tour
buildup and his performance at the Tour. A lot of what I do is
document and evaluate his training and racing numbers. Last year, he
used a CycleOps PowerTap every time he was on the bike, so we have a
complete numeric record of everything he did. That creates an
advantage for the future, because we can look at those results, weed
out the static, and give him feedback about his specific strengths
and weaknesses, which helps him optimize his training.
How do you go about that?
We evaluated specific stages from the Tour de France last year, like
Stage 10, where Floyd got dropped by Lance. Since Floyd was riding
with the power meter, we know his exact output. And using Lance's
finish time, we can quantify exactly how much more power Floyd would
have needed to stay with Lance. That differential gives Floyd a
reference point and specific power goals in his training. As an
example, in some of the Tour stages, like Stage 10, Floyd needed to
be able to generate more top-end, anaerobic power. Knowing that, he
can create workouts to mimic that kind of output.
On paper, how does Floyd compare with Lance?
Last year, Lance won the Tour, and Floyd came in ninththat's the
only paper that matters. You can only make comparisons relative to
actual finishing times on specific performances. Let's say Floyd
went up a hill in 15 minutes, while Lance went up it in 14 minutes.
After the race, we can watch the tape and figure out how that
difference occurred by studying the moments when Lance accelerated
away from Floyd and the rest of the group. If he put, say, 20 meters
on the field in five seconds, then we could do the math relative to
what Floyd was producing and calculate that Lance did maybe 300 more
watts than Floyd during those five seconds. Last year a lot of the
difference between Floyd and Lance occurred due to those top-end
accelerations, so Floyd has worked on that.
Was that ability specific to Lance?
That top-end power? Based on how he won the last seven Tours, I
would say so. But Lance had it all: He was a really complete rider
and a dominant one. If you look at the final time trial of the Tour
last year [Stage 20, at Saint-Etienne], Lance and Jan [Ullrich] were
within a percentage of each other, and then there was a
statistically significant gap (around 3 or 4 percent) to the rest of
the guys in the top ten. This makes Jan a real threat at this year's
Tour: If he can put it all together like that this year, he is going
to be formidable. But even Jan doesn't seem to have Lance's ability
to accelerate. So who knows what will happen this yearit's wide
What single aspect of Floyd's new training gives him the biggest
Floyd has started doing more top-end training in the anaerobic zone.
He has focused on that a lot, doing five-to-ten-minute intervals on
really steep stuff, the 18-percent-grade, Brasstown Bald-type
climbing. And judging by his performance in Georgia, that specific
training really paid off. Last year Floyd lost over a minute to
Danielson on that climb; this year Tom couldn't shake him.
Do you train athletes in breath holding?
There is some interesting scientific and anecdotal evidence about
hypoxic interval trainingessentially holding your breath or
limiting oxygen intake while doing an all-out interval. There's
still a lot of mystery about how the body adapts. Remember, at this
top level we're often trying novel things. Some will remain
theories; others might catch on as serious training technique. This
type of training is definitely dangerous, and nobody should attempt
it without the supervision of a coach and/or doctor.
There's research that shows that when an athlete is up close to max,
near the point when they're about to quit, there's a drop in
cerebral blood flow. It's like a self-preservation switch: The brain
forces the body to stop working to preserve blood flow to the brain.
So the idea behind breath holding is to train your body to maintain
that cerebral blood flow even when you're not getting enough oxygen.
Basically, an athlete holds his breath during intervals to become
accustomed to the mind-popping efforts produced while racing. For
cycling, a rider would do an all-out effort between 30 seconds and
two minutes, trying not to take a breath during the interval. It's
close to impossible, and it will really hurt. If the rider doesn't
pass out, crash, or kill himself, maybe the training will make him
Will Floyd use this technique?
No, probably not. When we're training this spring in Europe, I'll
suggest it. But he'll probably just look at me like I'm insane.
Floyd is very open about his power numbers, posting them on the
Internet for anyone to see. Aren't you worried about giving away his
strengths or weaknesses?
Some people were worried that we were giving away too much, but I
don't think Floyd lost much sleep over it. The numbers are specific
to Floyd and to a specific ride, including tactics, terrain, and
weather. Even if [Ivan] Basso looks at these numbers and sees a
supposed weakness, it doesn't help him. What a lot of people don't
get is that it's not always the guy who produces the most power that
wins. If Floyd's competitors are that concerned with matching
Floyd's numbers, then they're not working on their own weaknesses.
Ultimately, the performance is the definitive judge. We can study
the power meter, analyze the numbers, and craft the perfect regimen,
but at the end of the day the question is where and how you finish a
race. Your power numbers can look great, but if you finish way back
in the pack, then we haven't done our job.
Will you be at the Tour with Floyd?
Starting in late May, I'll be with him all the way through the end
of the Tour. That's the critical time. At the race, my specific job
is to take the computers off the bicycles, download the information,
and then think about it and give Floyd feedback. It's my job to
catch the subtle details of his output and give him information
based on that output. During a race like the Tour, we mainly just
sit around and talk, but we're talking about one thing: how to win
the bike race. There's an intangible side, too. Trying to achieve
something on that levellike winning the Touris a lonely and tough
experience, so having people around for support and motivation is
Any highlights from the races you've attended?
The night before Floyd finished the Tour of California, I went out
with him and Dave Zabriskie [Landis's roommate, who rides for CSC]
to the In-N-Out Burger right near LAX. It was so funny to be sitting
there eating burgers and drinking milkshakes with these two skinny,
scrawny dudes who were number one and two in one of the biggest bike
races in America. Floyd seemed just as stoked to be eating that
burger as he was to be winning the Tour of California. And yet that
afternoon, he had been this vicious competitor, intent on doing
anything necessary to win that race.
What motivates Floyd
I think Floyd is like anyone else: He wants to do his best, wants to
quiet the critics. Most important, he just wants to take care of his
family and friends. Also, like most bike racers, he's a survivor. I
think that's why he's so close to Dave Zabriskiethey both have hard
backgrounds, and they're both left of center. Floyd was one of those
guys who didn't quite fit in, like Napoleon Dynamite up there on
stage dancing to hip-hop. That's funny: Floyd, Napoleon Dynamite-
Do you think Floyd will win the Tour de France this year?
Absolutely. There's nothing else to believe.
5 minutes with Doc Lim somewhere in France
How has the first week of the Tour been for Floyd?
Doc Lim: Physically the first week of the Tour has been easy for
Floyd, for once he gets to sit in and rest. He's never felt this
fresh coming into the Tour, for obvious reasons he's always been
doing alot of work. On the other hand, he is a ways down on
Discovery, we'd like things to be different, but Floyd like the
other GC contenders are in the boat they're in.
What will it take to turn things around?
Doc Lim: Patience, this is a long bike race. Everything can change
in a heart beat. Stay focused and positive. There are some hard
stages up ahead where he can really go for it. He can't let the
Lance phenomena get in his head. We're racing at a point now where
there isn't any holding back, that's the way it is in the mountains.
That's tough too, because we have to pace ourselves. The Tour de
France isn't won from the front but from the back. It's who has the
most at the end.
You"ve said before "that the gloves are off". What does that mean?
Doc Lim: That's a phrase we've used in Floyd's training and racing
as well as throughout the Phonak team. You may have noticed the
little boxing gloves hanging from the rear view mirrors of the
Phonak cars and bus. It reminds us all of this everyday.
Tour Tech Talk: Zabriskie's mental prep; Landis's physical prep; and
why Armstrong unclipped
By Lennard Zinn
VeloNews technical writer
After David Zabriskie's first day in the yellow jersey, I ran into
Allen Lim, Floyd Landis's personal coach, who described some of
Zabriskie's mental preparation leading up to the Tour.
According to Lim, Landis repeatedly told Zabriskie that the yellow
jersey was his for the taking.
"Floyd lives with Zabriskie in Girona, and ever since the Giro,
Floyd's been telling David, `Dude, you've gotta aim for winning that
prologue at the Tour.' David was nervous about doing the Giro and
the Tour back to back, but that helped ease his concerns. Floyd told
him that if he won the prologue and got the yellow jersey, the rest
of the Tour would be easy."
Focusing on the first stage rather than the entire three weeks
helped Zabriskie become less apprehensive and more psyched about the
As for training, Lim said Zabriskie did the same workouts as Ivan
Basso at the post-Giro CSC training camp until the last two weeks,
and then he trained very hard specifically for the time trial.
The lowdown on Landis
Lim grabbed Landis's PowerTap computer head right after stage two
and was very pleased to see that his average power output for the
stage was 200 watts.
"Floyd can do six-hour training rides averaging 260 watts, so I'm
really pleased to see him stay below that for the whole stage," he
said. "Our goal is to have Floyd do as little work as possible."
Lim sat down with two separate computers immediately after the stage
to analyze the data graphically and in table form. He found that
Landis spent 16 percent of his time in the stage - some 40 minutes -
not pedaling at all, just coasting! And with only 150 meters of
elevation gain during the stage, it's not as though there were a
bunch of descents to freewheel down.
Landis told Lim that he guessed he had expended 2772 calories during
the stage. Downloading the PowerTap showed that he actually expended
2885 calories, indicating that Landis had a good feel for how hard
his body was working.
"We take a ratio of what he felt versus what the actual numbers
show. On a perfect day, the ratio will be 1.0. Today was 0.97;
yesterday was 1.13. It's important to find out what happened but
also what the rider felt. So on hard days, the rider will say it was
a harder effort than it actually was (making the ratio greater than
It's a bad sign if the rider says it was hard when he actually did
very little wrk, Lim added. "Then it is showing that perhaps he is
getting sick or is overtrained. It is a very good sign when he feels
that he is going just as hard as he actually is, as was the case
Landis has Zipp 202, 303 and 404 rims laced to extralight PowerTap
hubs, and all of his bikes are wired for the PowerTap. "The beauty
of the new BMC road bike is that it is so light that, despite the
additional 250 grams added for the PowerTap, we are still right on
the UCI weight limit for the bike," Lim said.
Before coming to the Tour, Lim built mathematical models of all the
stages so he could determine what would be demanded of Landis.
"There are three basic principles of training," he said. One,
specificity; you have to train for the exact conditions you will be
racing in. That's why I make those models. Two, individuality;
everybody is different, and the training has to be tailored to the
individual. And three, progression; you want to ease into the energy
demands as slowly as possible.
"Say he was fourth or fifth the year before, and we know exactly
what his power demands were. Then we can predict what it would have
taken to win. So if we know what the demands are going to be in
July, then we work backward from there and can ease into it slowly
to lift him to that level."
For the past few months, Landis has been averaging 80-150 miles per
day, with 7000-15,000 vertical feet of elevation gain per day. He
and Lim rented an apartment in the Pyrenees so Landis could focus on
his climbing and time trailing; he would ride his road bike on the
ascents and switch to his time-trial bike in the valleys.
"Some people say you have to train hard, others say you have to
train long. Floyd's philosophy is to train hard and long," Lim said.
As for the demands of being a team leader, Lim said that Landis
feels less pressure than he did as a domestique on U.S. Postal, and
is getting plenty of support from the team and BMC, his Swiss bike
"The team and BMC support him so well," Lim said. "He has four bikes
here, and they supply him with a time-trial bike to train on. He
asked for that from Postal as well, but they never gave him one."
Landis brings the time trial bike along on his mountain training
days and rides it in the valleys between climbs."
Lim feels that Landis has a real shot at winning the Tour and is not
disappointed by yesterday's prologue result. "He's like a diesel
engine, like (Jan) Ullrich, and he can't start out that fast. But in
the second half of the race, he lost nothing on those guys
(Armstrong and Zabriskie) and had the same average pace."
However Landis does in the Tour, it is clear that he is taking it
seriously and preparing as well as he can. "He is so intense," said
Lim. "When he is at home with his wife and daughter, he is just with
them and is not talking about bike racing. But when he is on the
bike, he is nowhere else; he is just totally focused on riding."
I spoke with Discovery Team mechanic Alan Buttler about Armstrong's
brief bobble at the start during the opening time trial, and Buttler
said simply, "There was nothing wrong - he just has too much power!"
As I wrote Saturday, the pedal appeared to be tightened down quite
tightly, since it was with considerable difficulty that Armstrong
clipped into the left pedal while being held atop the start ramp.
Buttler confirmed that the pedal was not adjusted too loosely,
adding that Armstrong uses the Shimano fixed cleats, rather than
floating cleats, so his shoe cannot "float" a few degrees before
hitting the pedal release point. This gives the system less
flexibility to retain the foot under hard, twisting motions.
When a rider is accelerating in a big gear, as Armstrong was in his
first few pedal strokes off the starting ramp, the bike rocks back
and forth more, the front wheel turns back and forth more, and the
feet twist relative to the pedals more than they would when
accelerating out of the saddle at higher speeds.
This could explain why Armstrong unclipped both here and in the
Dauphiné, and could also explain what happened when he popped out of
his right pedal chasing the lead group on Luz Ardiden two years ago
after crashing when he hooked his handlebar on a spectator's musette
In that case, Iban Mayo crashed into him and broke his right
chainstay (unbeknownst to anyone until after the end of the stage).
As Armstrong was accelerating out of the saddle to catch back up,
the bike was twisting laterally even more than usual under such a
hard, low-speed effort due to the extra frame flex because of the
Last week, Landis kept talking about "staying conservative" with
Phonak's team tactics. His plan of action Thursday was anything but
conservative, as he made a suicidal attack on the first climb of the
Landis' Phonak team went to the front of the peloton and whipped up
the pace early in the race to close the gap to an earlier breakaway
within 8 minutes. Then, as the yellow jersey group reached the first
climb about 45 miles into the 124-mile Stage 17, Landis attacked,
taking the race leaders with him.
They couldn't hang on, though, and Landis charged ahead over the Col
des Saisies. He had caught the 11-man breakaway by the slopes of the
next mountain, Col des Aravis. He splintered that group and
continued up the road, chasing the lone leader with only Patrik
Sinkewitz of T-Mobile on his wheel, struggling to hang on.
Although Landis' doctor, Allen Lim, said the cyclist didn't bonk or
dehydrate on Wednesday, Landis repeatedly took water bottles from
the team car throughout the race, drinking them and pouring them
over his head.
Meanwhile, the group of cyclists with the yellow jersey looked like
a herd of deer caught in the headlights. They rode slack-jawed as
Landis kept putting minutes on them; at one point he led the yellow
jersey by 9 minutes.
Finally, after Landis had caught all the breakaways, dropped
Sinkewitz and was the virtual Tour leader, CSC's Jens Voigt and
Christian Vandevelde took over the pace-setting for Pereiro's Caisse
d'Epargne team and tried to close the gap.
On the base of the Col de Joux-Plane, a 7-mile ascent at 8.5%, CSC's
Carlos Sastre launched an attack to keep himself in contention. He
got within 5 minutes, but Landis gained time on him again on the
descent to the finish at Morzine.
Pereiro survived in a group that finished 7:08 behind Landis. With a
time bonus for winning, Landis is now 30 seconds behind Pereiro.
Landis' learning curve takes off
Success has forced the U.S. cyclist to figure out how to deal with a
sheltered past, a bad hip and Lance Armstrong
MONTELIMAR, France -- The bright, hot searchlight that tracks the
Tour de France leader hit Floyd Landis squarely in the face last
week. He didn't blink, but he has a few other people rubbing their
Fans and media members here don't quite know what to make of le
nouveau Americain with the scruffy auburn goatee, the bum hip and
the Mennonite upbringing. He fielded a range of questions before and
during his 48 hours in the race leader's yellow jersey, which he
gave up voluntarily Saturday in a tactical move.
Why reveal your impending hip replacement surgery in midrace? (He
thought it was practical, with all the cycling media assembled in
one place, and he was tired of keeping it secret.) Does your mother
have a television? Will she watch you? (She doesn't care to have one
in the house, but he's sure she'll find a way.)
And always, the endless questions about and comparisons to his
former mentor, Lance Armstrong. (Landis hopes Armstrong is happy for
Landis burns visibly on the bike. He's impulsive and occasionally
irreverant, as evidenced by his encounter with Sen. John Kerry when
the former Democratic presidential candidate visited the Tour last
"We've got something in common," Landis informed Kerry. "We both got
our butts beat by a Texan."
Yet Landis has been judicious in his public comments during this
race, exuding the aura of an athlete who has a lot to say but
doesn't need to say it all at once.
"I know the truth about myself," he said during a typically brief
appearance outside the team bus before the start of a Tour stage
last week. "Now I just have to show it to everyone else."
He looked around, nodded and smiled.
Landis, 30, was raised in Lancaster County, Pa., in a Mennonite
community that dictated a non-materialistic lifestyle and
conservative clothing. He attended public school but grew up without
a television or radio at home. Because of that background, and
because he is so plain-spoken, people sometimes mistakenly assume
that Landis has a simplistic approach to life. Quite the opposite,
said his trainer, Allen Lim.
"He realizes how complicated and confusing life can be," said Lim, a
sports physiologist who has been working with Landis for nearly two
years. "He grapples with his own beliefs. The hardest thing for
Floyd as an athlete is to turn his brain off. He's always thinking."
Landis' rejection of his childhood faith may have been the defining
act of his life, but he always speaks with respect of and fondness
for his parents and five siblings.
He portrays himself as a chronically restless boy unable to accept
the constraints of his family's religion, but his wanderlust was as
much mental as physical. Riding a bike offered independence -- "I
needed it to go to the river to go fishing," he said -- and led to a
thirst for competition. Landis began entering mountain bike races as
a young teenager, still wearing the long pants his religion
At 17, he boarded an airplane for the first time and traveled to
France for the junior world mountain bike championships. It might as
well have been an interstellar voyage for the sheltered Landis.
"I didn't know what was going on," he said in a one-on-one interview
in 2003. "I couldn't even race. I finished, but barely. I went home
just traumatized. I didn't ever want to ride a bicycle again."
Landis soon lowered his stubborn head into the wind again, however.
At 19, he moved to California and eventually swapped his fat tires
for a road bike. He joined the U.S. Postal Service squad in 2002 and
rode on three of Armstrong's Tour-winning teams.
Unlike most of the other U.S. riders in the European peloton,
Landis, who is married and has a 9-year-old daughter, keeps his main
residence in the United States. He lives in Murietta, Calif.,
outside San Diego, and shares a flat parttime in Girona, Spain, with
free-spirited time trial specialist David Zabriskie of Team CSC.
The drive, resolute self-knowledge and natural curiosity that
enabled Landis to alter his life so radically has helped him in his
"I had to adapt from the way I grew up to living in what you could
call normal society," Landis said last year. "I think racing in
Europe was easier for me because I was more adaptable and open-
minded about things."
Yet he does retain elements of his upbringing: frugality, a high-rpm
work ethic and a pointed disregard for status symbols. Landis lives
in a T-shirt, jeans and worn flip-flops or sneakers, and had to
borrow the dress shirt and blazer he wore last week when he
announced he would have potentially career-ending surgery.
Landis signed with Switzerland-based Phonak in late 2004, triggering
a spat with Armstrong that only recently gave way to professional
cordiality, then was abruptly promoted to team leader when Tyler
Hamilton was busted for a banned blood transfusion.
The team nearly lost its racing license. At the same time, Landis
underwent surgery to try to restore the blood flow to the hip he
broke in early 2003. The pain stabilized for a while but worsened
again this season.
Landis' former team director Johan Bruyneel of the Discovery Channel
team has suggested that the timing of the announcement was bizarre
and contrived, words that made Phonak director John Lelangue's eyes
"We didn't need to pull any marketing stunts," Lelangue said. "We
pulled the best marketing stunt when Floyd finished second in the
Only a few confidants such as Zabriskie were aware of the extent of
Landis' degenerative hip condition, which often robs him of sleep
and makes routine weight-bearing activities difficult. But most of
the peloton was well aware of his high pain threshold and will to
"He's a really hard guy," said Christian Vande Velde of Team CSC,
Landis' friend and former U.S. Postal Service teammate. "Floyd has a
lot of talent, but he still loves to train 10 hours a day. He grew
up in a different scenario. He's done everything himself. He's a
Interview With Phonak's Floyd Landis
provided by Allen Lim/www.floydlandis.com
Currently a professional cyclist with the Phonak Cycling Team, Floyd
Landis began cycling as a teenager in Pennsylvania. He completed the
Tour De France three times, contributing significantly to the
success of Lance Armstrong and the US Postal Service Team. Now
poised to ride for a top finish in this year's Tour, I've come to
believe that there is no athlete or person more capable. On that
strong sense of faith and a
great time earlier in the year at the Power Tap training camp, I
returned to Marietta, California along with Robbie Ventura of Vision
Quest to help Floyd organize his pre-Tour Training.
In only a few days of brainstorming, testing, training diary
analysis, and planning I've come to realize that there are few
people who understand the Tour and professional racing like Floyd.
He has some incredibly innovative ideas about training and the Tour
that I am certain will bring him to new levels this season.
(In between all the planning, Floyd's coach, Allen Lim, took some
time off for this interview with Floyd to talk about life, racing,
Allen: How did you get into bike racing?
Floyd: I started mountain biking when I was about 15 years old. A
friend of mine and I got these mountain bikes just to ride around
town with go fishing and hang out. Then the bike shop where we
bought the bikes put on a race called the "Big Timber." So my friend
and I did the race in our sweat pants, cause it wasn't cool to wear
spandex in high school. I did the beginner junior race and I won. I
thought it was the world championships but there were only like 15
or 16 guys in the race. Anyway, I got hooked. I did maybe 10 races
the next year and pretty much decided then that I wanted to be a
professional mountain bike racer. But that didn't really work out.
Allen: You were still a Mennonite then, right? How did that work
Floyd: Well, I could only do races on Saturday, until I was 18 and
then I stopped worrying about missing church and started going to
Allen: So that was your new religion, bike racing.
Floyd: Ya, pretty much. At least that's what my parents thought.
Allen: What did your parents think?
Floyd: They weren't too happy about it. They weren't too supportive
of pro sports in general. But after a few years they stopped trying
to convince me to stop.
Allen: How did you train back when you were a junior?
Floyd: I just rode my mountain bike as hard as I could whenever I
could. Between school, and what my parents wanted me to do, church
and work, there wasn't a lot of time. So I rode at night a lot
between 9 pm and 11 pm after I got off work at my job at the grocery
store. Fortunately I never got hit.
Allen: So when did you move to California?
Floyd: When I was 20 I left home and moved to Irvine for a few years
and lived with some friends who owned a mountain bike company.
Allen: Did you train full time then?
Floyd: Ya, [my friends] sponsored me and I trained full time. For 2 -
3 more years I tried to be a mountain bike racer. Then I moved to
San Diego when I was 23 and switched to road racing.
Allen: How did you train when you started road racing?
Floyd: Ten hours a day or whatever I could handle until I cracked.
Allen: Really? So how long did it take to crack?
Floyd: Precisely 2 months.
Allen: So what did you do after the 2 months?
Floyd: Quit cycling. I didn't even have a team. This was before
Mercury picked me up.
Allen: So you literally didn't have a job or anything going on?
Floyd: No. I was actually planning on racing mountain bikes again,
but I did some road races in the spring in Northern California and
impressed the Mercury team and got picked up.
Allen: What would you have done if you didn't get picked up?
Floyd: I really didn't have a plan. That's what I was trying to
figure out during those 10-hour rides.
Allen: How was MTB racing different from road racing?
Floyd: Totally different. In mountain bike racing you have to be
very good at the start for positioning and then just hold it. Road
racing starts out hard and ends harder. Road racing is a crescendo.
Mountain bike racing is more of a decrescendo.
Allen: When did you start using a power meter?
Floyd: About three years ago.
Allen: First impressions?
Floyd: It took a while to get a reference point so that the
information was useful. When you first start using it, it's hard to
know what the numbers mean. For the first six months I was on an SRM
and then I switched to a Power tap and have been using that
Allen: Why did you switch?
Floyd: It was more practical, less expensive, and just as accurate
and reliable. For the same price I had three power taps.
Allen: What kind of numbers could you hold say for 30 minutes or for
an hour three years ago?
Floyd: For 30 minutes, when I was really fit, somewhere between 390
to 400 watts. For an hour a little less - maybe 380. But I'd rarely
do 1-hour efforts.
Allen: That's interesting that your 30-minute and 1-hour power
outputs aren't that different.
Floyd: No they aren't far off. I'm more of an aerobic guy. That's
why I suffer in short prologues. The fast guys put four or five
seconds on me at the start with a hard acceleration, and then four
or five seconds on me at the finish with a strong sprint and that's
10 seconds I just can't make up. But if it's 45 minutes long I'll
make it up.
Allen: What did you look for in the numbers when you first started
using your Power Tap?
Floyd: In the beginning I was just trying to figure out what I could
do. I was just measuring what was happening. And then once I figured
out what I could do, I just started looking for improvement and ways
to improve. You really can't ask for more than that.
Allen: In that way, the tool is just a measuring device for you? A
way to raise the bar?
Floyd: Ya. But it's become a measuring device for everyone and it's
the common language people are using now to compare training and
performance. It makes sense in any language and it helps you set
Allen: Did it change the nature of training for you?
Floyd: Yes it did. Cause now I go less by just feel and more by a
combination of how I feel and power. Before I just had feel and the
problem is as you get tired your perception of effort changes for a
given power. So before I just went hard and over the course of a
day, or a couple of days, I was doing less work. I can focus more on
keeping my training load up and knowing when I'm tired.
Allen: How much will your power drop when you're tired?
Floyd: That depends on how tired I am. It can drop a lot. I guess,
it drops to zero when I'm really tired cause I'm not riding. You
could ride until you couldn't ride anymore - that would be a funny
test. What if you rode until you couldn't ride anymore? What would
that graph look like? Let's do that. You can be the subject and I'll
record. You're allowed to eat and drink but you have to go until the
power goes to zero.
Allen: Well, there is actually a type of test called a "Time to
Exhaustion Test", but they're not really reliable because motivation
plays a big role. If someone isn't motivated they just quit.
Floyd: We'll have to think of a bonus system.
Allen: How much money do you make?
Floyd: Not enough to do that test. I did do a 24-hour mountain bike
relay race once, but I wouldn't recommend it.
Floyd: I felt miserable for about a week after. Not enough time to
sleep. The breaks are just enough to relax and then you have to get
back on the bike. Most of it is fun, but between 3 [am] and 7 [am]
in the morning, it really hurts. Then it gets better again.
Allen: Speaking of long days, what is your biggest Kjoule day?
Floyd: On a ride, by myself, I once did 6,000 Kjoules. Not bad for a
7-hour ride. The 10-hour days weren't much more cause I went a lot
Allen: How fast would you go for 10 hours?
Floyd: 14 to 15 mph. That's not many watts - about 150 watts. But I
don't do any of those rides anymore. That was back when I didn't
have a job, or a family, or anything else. If you have a family and
you do ride for 10 hours you won't have one for long.
Allen: That's like Alex Candelario style 15 mph, 9 to 5, industrial
strength, trucker speed. He mentioned that slow volume base also. Do
you think that helps?
Floyd: It's a different kind of strength. I don't know. I'm guessing
you become more efficient. I think it's a brain thing. It could just
be a neural adaptation. The more you do something, the less you have
to think about it to do it. If you ride that much, it just becomes
subconscious. Your brain thinks, "this guy is never going to stop
pedaling" and it figures a way to deal with it. But isn't that what
some people think? That fatigue is in your brain?
Allen: I think the distinction is one of peripheral vs. central
fatigue. There are interesting studies that show that after someone
has fatigued, skeletal muscle can still produce the same force
through an external electrical stimulation, showing that the fatigue
is due to some neural mechanism (i.e., an inability for the nervous
system to create the contraction) and not a central mechanism (i.e.,
some inherent problem with the muscle itself such as a lack of fuel
or build up of harmful metabolites). Certainly, there could be a
central mechanism within the brain that regulates everything. As an
example, some researchers down at the University of Colorado Health
Sciences Center have some data that shows that at VO2 max subjects
stop exercise after a sudden drop in cerebral blood flow. Anyway, do
you do that kind of base preparation for the Tour now?
Floyd: Just long miles? No. It's more like long and hard now. What
do you think? Do you think I should do more of that mileage? Does it
have any value? You tell me. I mean we don't do any long slow rides
in the Tour so there's no sense in training like that is there? I
guess my reasoning is that if you can do long and hard, why do long
and easy. There are only so many hours and days for training. And
sometimes an extra hour riding the bike is one less hour of recovery.
Allen: I guess specificity rules. But who knows, I'll think about
it. So are you're saying less is more?
Floyd: No, I'm just saying training needs to be efficient. At the
very least I'm not in a position to waste time anymore.
Allen: What kind of training do you do to prepare for the Tour?
Floyd: The real hard training is the racing. So it's more about a
race program now and less about a training program. In training now,
it's not so much about the high intensity. It's more about the long
and steady climbs. We get plenty of intensity in the races and often
in training we have to make up for the lack of time at threshold.
(Note: This year Floyd's racing preparation for the Tour de France
included Paris Nice, the Criterium Internationale, the Tour of
Cataluyna, and the Dauphine)
Allen: Compared to when you first started using a power meter, what
power output can you produce now? Has it changed much?
Floyd: It hasn't really changed a whole lot. The difference now, is
that I can do more time at a given power and do that power more days
in a row. So before I could only do 400 watts for 30 minutes once,
and now I can do that four times in a single ride. The difference is
just how much total work I can do now at higher intensities. My top-
end or threshold hasn't changed that much. But I guess in the races
I do, it's the guy who rides the hardest the most who is the best
bike racer, not the guy who rides the hardest or the most. Riding
180 hours a month doesn't make you a good bike racer, and riding so
hard one day so that you lose five training days doesn't work either.
Allen: Are you surprised by that improvement?
Floyd: I am surprised, but that was the objective in the first place
to improve. Improvement is always the goal.
Allen: Do you use heart rate monitor to train?
Floyd: No. Never.
Floyd: Originally, I did when I first started riding but all it did
was confuse me, so I stopped.
Allen: Hardest race?
Floyd: The Tour de France is the hardest race in the world.
Allen: Most overrated race?
Floyd: That might offend someone.
Allen: Most underrated race?
Floyd: No idea. I don't know how they're rated.
Allen: How much does altitude change your power?
Floyd: 5% at 6,000 feet.
Allen: What do you do to taper into a big race?
Floyd: I don't do much of that anymore. I guess it depends on the
race. Before a stage race a week easy is important. Shorter races I
just train through.
Allen: What do you eat during a stage in the Tour.
Floyd: I eat a lot of food. I have no idea how to answer that or
where to begin. It's just a lot of food.
Allen: Don't worry, I'll figure it out. Anyway, what would you do if
weren't a pro cyclist?
Floyd: I don't know. I guess that makes me pretty lucky or unlucky.
Allen: Well how about this. What would you do if you knew you could
Floyd: Succeed? I don't know. What do you mean? You mean anything?
kind of question is that?
Allen: I mean create your own reality, your own meaning. If you
could make it mean anything what would you want it to mean. But I
guess what I hear you are saying is that it doesn't really mean
anything anyway, so everything is all kind of arbitrary, including
this particular question. You know, "Waiting for Godot."
Floyd: That sounds about right.
Allen: What is Power?
Floyd: You mean like Power Tap power or rule the world power? Cause
they say power is money and money is power. Is that right? I guess
money is a combination of time and intensity and that equals work,
so ya power for some is money.
Allen: What is a Kcal?
Floyd: The amount of heat needed to raise the temperature of water 1
Allen: Nice. You know how many people don't know that? Specifically,
a Kcal is a thermal representation of energy and is the amount of
heat needed to raise the temperature of 1 kilogram of water 1 degree
Celsius from 14.5 degrees Celsius to 15.5 degrees Celsius.
Dede's Diary: Cooling off and a chat with Allen Lim
By Dede Demet Barry
Vuelta Stage 7
The countryside today's stage passed through had long somewhat-
shallow grade hills with wide-open and windy terrain, much like the
foothills of Colorado.
Michael said that the stage started at a quick pace and the field
immediately splintered. The riders had to climb out of Teruel, which
is situated in a valley. They raced over a four Category 3 climbs in
the first 100km of the 200km stage, which some of the guys in the
bunch said felt like more like Cat. 2's, with some of the guys
telling Michael that they felt like the Vuelta race organization was
gypping them with the categorization. There is nothing worse than
preparing yourself for a fairly easy day and then suffering like a
dog over climbs for hours on end.
Discovery was elated with Max Van Heeswijk's stage win today,
especially considering that he had a flat tire with 15 kilometers to
go and he started sprinting really early. Michael and Stijn Devolder
dropped back to help Max back on when he flatted, but at 10
kilometers to go, when Paolo Bettini (Quickstep) launched his fierce
attack they were still 150 guys back in the bunch and the chase
after Paolo was splitting the peloton.
Max had super legs today, though, and he made it to the front and
put himself in the wind early to sprint and still held off his
rivals. It was impressive. The team came here to win stages and
having one in their pocket will definitely take some of the pressure
The weather today was a little cooler than it has been all week. In
fact, the peloton even rode through a 15- or 20-minute rain shower.
It's still warm, though. The minute the rain stopped, Michael said
he felt like he was pedaling in a sauna, as it heated right up. Bike
riders are never happy!
The first week of the Vuelta is now complete and the heat has taken
its toll on the field. Today, I had an opportunity to catch up with
Dr. Allen Lim, an exercise physiologist who has been analyzing power
data of Floyd Landis and other Phonak Team members at the Tour de
France and the Vuelta España this season.
Dr. Lim is an expert on the physiological demands of cycling, so I
asked him to discuss the impact of the heat on the peloton in the
first week of the Vuelta and compare the demands of this race to
those of the Tour de France. Here's what he said.
Dede Barry: After analyzing power files from first week of the
Vuelta, how do you think the extreme heat has affected the riders in
Allen Lim: Compared to a typical day of racing the average power
outputs have been lower here, but the difference isn't significant.
Over the course of the races, however, the power has been
significantly steadier and peak power outputs are nowhere near where
they could be.
So from the power files, I would say that the heat has had a really
oppressive effect on at least Floyd if not all the riders,
especially with respect to their ability or desire to surge,
accelerate and in general perform above threshold.
That said, it's important to note that the heat, as an external
environmental stressor, not only impairs a cyclist's ability to
produce power but also makes them feel terrible at any given power
output. So in assessing the impact of the heat on the riders,
examining how they feel - the signs and symptoms of heat stress - is
perhaps more important than the power alone. But knowing both is
For example, we've got a good idea of how much sweat is required to
keep Floyd cool on a normal day of racing (1 liter per hour for
every 100 watt average) and in this last week, for the same power,
he's about 30 percent higher. For nine riders at the Tour, the
soigneurs would typically prepare 200 to 250 bottles per day. This
last week, we used between 350-400 bottles in a day.
DB: After analyzing Floyd Landis' power files from the Tour de
France and the beginning of the Vuelta Espana, do you see much
difference in the demands of these two grand tours? Or are they even
comparable because of the different environmental and tactical
AL: It's not really possible to compare. Tactics, the course profile
and the environment play such a big role in what a rider chooses to
do. At both the Tour and the Vuelta, the choice was to conserve in
the first week. In terms of the strain on the riders, my observation
is that the first few days of racing here in Spain have been much
harder due to the heat than the first week of the Tour de France. On
the flip side, this race isn't the media circus that the Tour de
France is and so the psychological stress level has been lower.
DB: Stage 6 was the first big mountain day, finishing at the
Valdelinares ski station. Do you think there was any difference in
power necessary to win on the final climb versus on Courchevel, the
first mountain top finish in the Tour de France?
AL: I haven't taken a close look at what Roberto's rate of ascent on
Valdelinares was, so I can't really say. With the absence of many of
the top Tour de France contenders - all of whom were peaking at the
Tour - my guess is that you'd need more power to win on Courchevel
at the Tour de France. I could be wrong, but Courchevel was longer,
steeper and it came at the end of a harder day of racing. Plus the
time differentials on Courchevel were a lot larger. In the end, it's
not so much about the course or race, it's more about who's there,
how fit they are, and how motivated they are to put the hurt on
themselves and each other.
DB: Was Floyd less powerful here at the Vuelta than he was in the
Tour or is the competition better?
AL: Unfortunately, he's less powerful than at the Tour. It's been a
long season. It's time for some rest.
Tomorrow should be another day for the sprinters to battle it out,
as they pedal from Tarragona north to Lloret de Mar. I'll be there,
too, pushing the pram with my little buddy Liam, waiting for Michael
Dr Allen Lim interview
Backing Floyd in the campaign for yellow
The saying 'behind every great man there is a great woman,' is well
known, but when it comes to Tour de France contenders, it's equally
accurate to say that behind every serious yellow jersey candidate is
a very important support crew. Dr Allen Lim is one of those who is
helping Floyd Landis' challenge. The University of Colorado
Integrative Physiology graduate is acting as a training advisor to
the Phonak rider. In the first part of a two-part interview
Cyclingnews' Shane Stokes spoke to Lim in the lead up to the Tour
and after Saturday's time trial. Lim provides an interesting insight
into the behind-the-scenes work that helps mount a serious Tour
challenge, as well as giving a broader understanding of Landis'
character, qualities and prospects in the race. The second part of
the interview concerns his work with the up-and -coming TIAA-CREF
Cyclingnews: Floyd was second in the time trial on Saturday and is
currently second overall. What is your reaction to that TT
Allen Lim: Well, he had a little bit of a mishap, breaking his time
trial bars and having to change his bike, but he is on track. If we
factor in the time lost in the stop and if we also consider the
aerodynamic changes that occurred with the bicycles [the angle of
the bars were required to be set lower by the UCI prior to the TT],
he is exactly where he should be. In fact, had he not had those
mishaps, I think he would only have been 22 or 23 seconds down on
first place. That is, within plus or minus three watts of where we
thought he should have been, so everything is great.
That said, it is still bike racing and just because the engine is
good, everything is good. It doesn't mean that it [winning the Tour]
is going to be plain sailing. It is going to be very tactical race,
it is still going to be a lot about luck and consistency. So I guess
we will just play it day by day.
CN: He took time out of all the other GC contenders but now another
rider, Gonchar, is in yellow, with his T-Mobile team having to
defend that jersey. People don't necessarily see him as a possible
winner of the Tour, so is it the ideal situation for Floyd?
AL: Yes. Now that we are sitting in this position, it is a great
position to be in. You never go into it planning that will happen
you don't ever going to a race planning on giving up time. I think
that if Floyd could have won, he would have gone for the win. But
this is certainly an excellent scenario.
CN: Floyd did the Dauphiné as preparation, posting an excellent time
trial there, but then performing below expectations in the
mountains. What happened in that race?
AL: Well, Santiago Botero was originally going to be the team's GC
guy there. Floyd had been training very hard beforehand and, not
only that, he was coming out of the mountains and it had been very
cold up there. He wasn't ready for the heat on Ventoux it was like
a furnace there. So rather than just slaughter himself for a top 10,
he decided to use the rest of the week as training. His legs just
weren't good in that level of heat so he couldn't perform.
That is not always good for the head, but I think he did the wise
thing holding back. I believe he will be good in the mountains in
the Tour, though.
CN: You do a lot of work with PowerTap and so are getting continuous
readings about Floyd's condition. How does his output look compared
to last year?
AL: I will say this. It looks very similar to how it looked at the
Tour of California and Tour de Georgia, the other strong
performances he has done this year. This time round, it is a little
better than last year's Tour, but the big caveat is that it is very,
very hard to say right now, even with the power data, because this
race has been so easy for the riders this first week. Outside of the
prologue and the time trial, there really hasn't been any critical
moments in the race and so the guys are literally sitting in,
relaxing, trying not to do a lot of work.
As a result, in the first week we don't necessarily look to see how
much power he can produce; we are looking to see how little he can
produce. It is a total shift in mindset there. Based on the time
trial information and what we modelled for the time trial, he is on
track, but we are not going to know until after we get out of the
CN: Who do you see as being the other danger men at this point?
AL: It is hard to say. You look down the GC and it is like, holy
cow, this is such a different race. I had expected George [Hincapie]
and Levi [Leipheimer] to be closer to the front. I think Cadel Evans
is still right in there still. I guess we will see. I don't know how
Klöden is going to be climbing, if he has good legs at all I don't
think Gonchar is going to do it, I don't know much about Sebastien
Lang but I don't think he is going to do it and I don't think
Michael Rogers is going to be climbing. I don't know much about
Gustav Larsson from Francaise des Jeux.
I do think T-Mobile is going to be definitely strong. But I don't
know, it is such a crazy race. It is hard to know where Basso and
Ullrich would have finished. It is going to be so open in the
mountains, it is ridiculous.
Gonchar's ride was amazing, a superb time. It was a real cottage of
wattage. At best, if Floyd was as fit as he has ever been and
everything went perfectly, he was perhaps have got a 1.01'40" or a
1.01'38". So Gonchar's ride [1.01'43"] was pretty cool.
CN: Floyd and the team had a press conference on Monday's rest day,
talking about what was to most people a previously unknown hip
problem. How significant is that issue for him as an athlete?
AL: It is everything. The hip rules the day. If the hip is good, he
can go well but if it is not so good, then it affects him. But I
will say is that he is one tough dude. The one thing that injury has
given him is a whole lot of mental toughness the pain of cycling is
nothing. He is one strong character.
CN: Will that impact on his chances for the Tour or can he get
through it ok?
AL: Yes, he will get through it he has been through worse. This is
CN: Does it affect his power output?
AL: It can affect his power output. If it is not good, then his
power is not good. But when he fights through it, man, he is so
strong that it is no problem. I think that he did really smart
things in the off season in terms of recovering and resting and that
is a lot of the reason for his success. Nursing it. That is why I
believe people haven't seen what he is capable of. He has got a lot
of great people around him, helping him with this problem and I
think that once he gets it fixed, then holy cow He will be going so
CN: Looking at his physiology, how is he different from other
AL: I don't know if he is that different. There is certainly a point
in every athlete's career when they hit their peak, their prime. He
is definitely hitting that point. But when you look at things
overall, aerobically and anaerobically, he is quite similar to the
other top athletes. I would say that physiologically speaking, if
you compare him to Ullrich, Basso, Lance, they are all very close to
each other on a given day. They are all really the same beast. The
beauty of the sport is that once you get that engine, once you are
dealing with physiology at that level, it is really about the
driver; it is no longer about the car.
I think it is about the skill of the bike racer, about the tactical
awareness and the mental strength. Floyd is the kind of guy who is
razor, razor sharp. He knows everything that is going on around him,
he is an exceptional bike handler and racer. He is very, very smart
he knows what his body can handle and how to dish that out. He is
good tactically and good day to day, in terms of the living, the
travelling and the recovery. He is exceptionally good with eating on
the bicycle he can take in a lot of food on the bicycle, whereas a
lot of people may have stomach problems. So one of the differences
is that he has a rock solid gut. That intake of energy during a long
stage race is really, really crucial.
He is exceptionally aerodynamic on his bicycle. He has got a great
position which optimises his ability to produce power as well as his
aerodynamic factor. He also has a bit of a survival mentality,
having done a lot to get to where he is now.
CN: What did you do in the run up to the Tour, as regards your role
at the Dauphiné and with his training?
AL: Well, he had a lot of people around him at the Dauphiné, it was
largely a team deal. What I was doing was largely related to my work
with PowerTap testing things out and making sure that all of the
equipment was working right. For me and PowerTap, this week was a
bit of a dress rehearsal for the actual Tour de France.
After that, the goal was primarily to just check out courses and
ride bikes. The plan was to check out all the major courses that we
think will play an important role in this year's Tour, in order to
have a good idea of what is going on there. It was last-minute
preparation at that point. There is not so much else you can do in
the last couple of weeks. You need to take it easy beforehand to
make sure that you are fresh and healthy. The Tour is such a long
race that it is not like you want to be going full steam ahead
heading into it.
At that point, I think the most important thing for me is just being
there for morale and support; there is not too much rocket science
involved. It is really more just about maintaining the belief that
anything is possible, keeping morale high and going into the race
with a really positive and enthusiastic attitude.
CN: Looking at your records of his power output readings, what kind
of improvement has he made since last year?
AL: It is so different, it is like night and day. He made huge gains
over the off-season. I think people don't realise that between 2004
and 2005, the off-season was a very difficult one for him for a
number of reasons. He got really, really sick in the 2004 Vuelta and
that ended up destroying most of his off-season. It took many months
to recover from that, so he didn't come into the 2005 season with
the same amount of base or conditioning as before. Then in 2005
itself he really brought up his training load significantly, and
that was a big adjustment for his body as a whole.
But that higher base of training in 2005 ultimately paid off, and so
too [was] the fact that he dropped out of the Vuelta before he got
worn out. He had the hindsight that he didn't want to destroy
himself at the race because it is so hard to recover from that kind
of effort. He pulled out early from the Vuelta and was able to have
a very, very consistent off-season.
That was an off-season where he was able to maintain much of the
momentum he had created in the 2005 training year. We saw the fruits
of that labour as a result. If you take the perspective of comparing
one year to another year, there is a big, big difference in the
power he can generate. But if you take it day by day and just graph
it out from 2005 to this point in time, there has been a pretty
solid incremental progression. The important thing is that that
those little gains have adopted quite a bit over the course of a
year or two years.
CN: You said in the past that perhaps he overcooked it a little bit
just before last year's Tour
AL: Exactly, exactly. But in a sense, that is also what is
contributing to his good form this year. He did more training last
year than he had done in the past; undoubted he properly came into
the Tour a little too hot, but if you look at it, he survived it, he
got stronger from it and now we are seeing a lot of the benefits
from perhaps coming into last year's race a little bit cooked.
That said, in order to really optimise somebody's training, you need
to experiment with overstepping the boundaries at times and knowing
exactly what that limit is. His training is definitely not as hard
as it was last year, but he is in better condition and in better
shape. For a given duration he is generating a significantly higher
amount of power. Part of that is down to him not going off and
demolishing himself in the same way as perhaps he did last year.
That is not to say that last year is wrong, it is just to say it is
all part of a long-term process.
CN: I know they are really different athletes, but if you compare
Floyd's pre-Tour preparation to Lance Armstrong's, it is clear there
is a very difference approach. He was going extremely well at the
start of the year and took victories in three big stage races. Did
he back off from that and then build back up again?
AL: Well, I think that winning those early-season races was really
quite special, and he was quite fortunate to have those
opportunities. But if you look at those races, he primarily won
Georgia and California based on his time trial performance, and
having a strong team. Examining the power outputs he generated in
those races, for a short period of time he could certainly handle a
higher intensity than before, which is critical for performances.
But overall I don't think that the training loads were any more
difficult than the loads he did in previous years.
In fact, if anything, the training and the race preparation were
probably lighter and easier than in past seasons. Just because you
are winning races, it doesn't mean that your training is all-out at
the time. And that is what I think a lot of people misread, in terms
of his performance<br/><br/>(Message over 64 KB, truncated)