This is a bit late, but I think we’ve all got an excuse… so big announcement – I’ve been accepted as part of Team Alpecin for 2020.
I will endeavour to blog about my experiences over the course of the year. In this post I will introduce the team, the project and some of the effects of coronavirus.
What is Team Alpecin
If you follow cycling, you might have come across Katusha-Alpecin, a former World Tour cycling team, or Alpecin-Fenix, a new Pro-Continental team containing cycling biggest star (Mathieu van der Poel), or the adverts for Alpecin shampoo – “German Engineering for your hair”. Alpecin are a brand that have been deeply intertwined with cycling for a number of years.
One of the most interesting projects is their ‘Jedermann’ team of amateurs. The basic idea is provide normal people with professional standard kit, training and support, and see what the effect is over the course of a year.
What does that mean for the year?
The plan for 2020’s cohort was an initial team meeting in Bielefeld (Alpecin’s HQ in Germany) in March to meet our team-mates, undertake a range of fitness tests and bike equipment fittings, and workshops.
A few weeks later, we were meant to head to northern Italy for a week long training camp in the Italian Alps. Professional coaches would guide us through on- and off-bike exercises, nutrition, recovery and team bonding.
We would then be given an individual training plans to prepare ourselves for a range of events, culminating in L’Etape de Tour, this year from Nice.
Other events include the Frankfurt Radmarathon and Otztaler Cycle Marathon.
How does COVID-19 affect the year?
As with all best-laid plans, circumstances can take over. That meant no team meeting in Germany, no training camp in Italy, and lots of ambiguity about the events that might actually run.
I’ve booked lots of flights, and then cancelled a lot of flights… not helped by Flybe going into administration. There’s been a lot of watching for news, waiting for government announcements and trawling websites for information.
However, the guys who run the Team have been amazing. The whole year has been adapted to training and team-building online. When lockdown was at its most strict, we had group Zwift rides. We have also received regular ‘care packages’ of some amazing kit.
More recently, we’ve been having weekly team meetings on Microsoft Teams (stupid name, btw) with sponsors, coaches or just to have a chat.
We also have an active WhatsApp group where the whole team chat, share amusing stuff, ask questions and generally bond.
There is no point getting upset about a lost opportunity though, especially in the face of a virus that is devastating our society. Thousands of people have died, with many more severely affected. The world as we know it has changed, and cycling is not the most important thing right now, but it can also be an opportunity to change the world we are living in. Cycling might be one way…
What to expect
Over the next few months, I will be blogging about my training, the equipment I have been given/loaned, and my thoughts and feelings about the whole experience.
Hopefully, depending on what decisions are made about lockdown, there may be some event reports too.