From Collegiate Racing to the WorldTour in Three Years, with Sepp Kuss

Sepp Kuss former rider for the University of Colorado team, now a member of Jumbo Visma shares his experience of transitioning from an amateur rider to a WorldTour athlete. There's some great advice about training, raising your level, and the value of persistence.

Sepp Kuss cycling physiology testing
Photo: Brad Kaminski | VeloNews.com

Last fall, Trevor and I conducted a not-so-controlled study on climbing, and we had the help of a young, talented Colorado rider. His name? Sepp Kuss. At the time of our little experiment, Kuss was about to head to Europe for a training camp with his new WorldTour team, Lotto-NL Jumbo. Curiously, Kuss almost didn’t do the study because he was worried his times up the climbs would be embarrassingly slow. Then, on a brisk November day, he proceeded to set the second fastest Strava time up the famous Flagstaff climb in Boulder. (He’s since been bumped down to third by Lachlan Morton.)

We knew then there was something special about Kuss. It didn’t take him much longer to dramatically prove that point to the rest of the world. Last week at the Tour of Utah, Sepp made the competition look like a bunch of amateurs, dominating the race like never before, winning three stages on his way to the overall title. Now, he’s off to the Vuelta to make his grand tour debut.

This spring we recorded a podcast with Sepp about what it was like going from domestic U.S. racing to the WorldTour. The theme we tried to bring out was the struggle of jumping to the highest level and the need to persist when your first year is such a grind. So much for that theme… Yet, despite his meteoric rise, there’s really one word we would use to describe this interview: humble.

There’s also some great advice about training, raising your level, and the value of persistence. So, in honor of Kuss’s Tour of Utah win, we present this interview. In it, we talk with him about:

  • His career so far, and since Kuss did his first road race just three years ago, this part will be short
  • What his spring was like in Europe, and surviving his first big race: the Tour of the Basque Country
  • The mental side of stepping up to a higher level and getting beat up over and over again
  • A comparison of training in the WorldTour versus the domestic peloton
  • Finally, we have a long discussion with Kuss about something that may surprise you: his focus on the process rather than the results

We’ll also hear from Joe Dombrowski, a leader of the EF Education First-Drapac WorldTour team. Dombrowski was one of Kuss’s chief rivals at the Tour of Utah this year and won the race himself back in 2015. The discussion will serve as a good comparison of how the two riders train.

So, get some popcorn, pull up the highlight reel of the Tour of Utah, smile along as Sepp dances away from the competition. Let’s make you fast!

Primary Guests
Sepp Kuss: Pro cyclist with Jumbo-Visma

Episode Transcript

 

00:00

Welcome to Fast Talk, develop news podcast everything you need to know to run.

 

Chris Case  00:16

Hello and welcome to Fast Talk. I’m Chris case managing editor of Bell news, joined by my old ish pro ish co host coach Connor. Last fall, Trevor and I conducted a not so controlled study on climbing, and we had the help of a young talented Colorado writer. His name Seth coos, at the time of our little experiment set was about to head to Europe for a training camp with his new world tour team. lotto and Odhiambo curiously set almost didn’t want to do the study because he was worried his times of the climbs would be embarrassingly slow. Then, and this is in November, mind you, he proceeded to set the second fastest travel time of the famous Flagstaff climb here in Boulder. We knew then there was something special about set didn’t take him long to dramatically prove that point to the rest of the world. Last week of the tour of Utah set made the competition look somewhat like a bunch of amateurs, he dominated the race, like it’s never been dominated before winning three stages on his way to the overall title. Now he’s off to the Vuelta to make his grand tour debut. This spring, we recorded a podcast with Seth about what it was like going from domestic us racing to World Tour racing. The theme we tried to bring out was the struggle of jumping to the highest level and the need to persist when you’re first year is such a grind so much for that thing. Well, yet despite his meteoric rise, there’s really one word we would use to describe this interview, humble. There’s also some great advice about training, raising your level and the value of persistence. So in honor of seps tour of Utah when we present our interview with him, we’ll talk with him about first his career so far. And since CIP did his first road race just three years ago, this part is going to be pretty short. Next, we’ll talk about what his spring was like in Europe in subprime, surviving his first big race to the Basque Country. Next, we’ll talk about the mental side of stepping up to a higher level and getting beat up over and over again. Then we’ll talk about what training is like in Europe compared to what it’s like in the domestic peloton. And finally, we have a long discussion with Seth about something that may surprise you. His focus on the process rather than the results. We’ll also hear in this podcast from Joe Dombrowski, a leader of the EF education first drapac World Tour team. Joe is one of seps chief rivals at the tour of Utah this year, and won the race himself back in 2015. This discussion will serve as a good comparison of how the two riders train. So pop some popcorn, pull up the highlight reel of the tour of Utah. Smile along as CEP dances away from the competition. Let’s make you fast.

 

Chris Case  03:07

This episode of fast Talk is brought to you by normatec. dial in the most advanced recovery for your body with Norma Tech’s patented compression massage technology. Riders like Taylor Finney, Tom Spooner, and the BMC racing team all rely on normatec to get them through the daily grind of professional cycling. normatec increases circulation, rejuvenates muscles, and reduces soreness so you can train harder and race faster. Stop by the normatec 10 at the Colorado classic to try for yourself and feel what everyone is talking about.

 

Chris Case  03:47

It’s been a it’s been a rapid transition that you’ve made between collegiate racing pretty quickly to the top of the domestic racing field. And then pretty quickly after that, jumping straight into the world tour. So we want to sit down we want to discuss all of that we want to discuss how your training has changed what things you need to work on the mental aspects of that transition, the tricks that you’ve maybe employed, the things you’ve quickly realized that you need to work on all of that. Why don’t you start by giving us a sense of how long you’ve actually been writing? Just that rapid progression that you’ve made?

 

04:30

Yeah, I mean, writing in general, since I was, you know, very young, but you know, never at a really serious level, like, like, a lot of juniors or even younger kids are these days, but uh, yeah, I mean, I think seriously racing. I started in 2013, where I was fully focused on at the time mountain biking only. And then yeah, 2015 did a couple road races to supplement the mountain biking I believe

 

Chris Case  05:02

I laughed. I laughed. Sorry to interrupt. I laughed because you’re that’s three years ago. And now you’re in the world tour. Yeah,

 

05:07

yeah. So you just spoke about the the collegiate scene and I think my first race on a road bike was in the Denver city park for collegiate race crit. Yeah. It was like I’d never written in the, in the drops so much, you know, and I started the first 20 minutes or 30 minutes, I was only in the hoods, and then one of my teammates, except you need to get on the drops. And then you can corner and then you can be arrow. Yeah, do all these things that I just never really never thought about. But right. And

 

Chris Case  05:41

that was probably literally three years ago. Yeah. Because that was probably in the spring. Yeah, of 2015. And here we are 20 2018. And you’ve gone from not knowing to really ride in the drops in a crit to racing against the world’s best riders. So that’s a great way to encapsulate your rapid progression in the sport. Yeah, I’m

 

Trevor Connor  06:04

still getting over the fact that your first road race was a race that I did after I had retired from racing full time. And I did it five years before. Oh, man. For my last

 

06:19

throwback.

 

Chris Case  06:20

Yeah. Well, is there something you can share with us about how those transitions have taken place? Let’s take the first one from mountain bike, collegiate mountain biker to being a member of a rally and stepping up we did the Colorado classic last year, I remember. So that’s in itself a pretty big transition of a rapid progression. Can you walk us through how that went?

 

06:50

Yeah, for me in the especially in the early stages, it was all pretty, pretty natural, and just going with what I thought was most appealing or fun at the time. So I mean, for me, riding my road bike was always something that I would supplement my mountain biking with. So it’s not like I was a total stranger to riding my road bike, but I would never really do any races on it. So. And I thought, Yeah, I like watching road bike races, and it seems cool. And it seems a lot different than than mountain biking, and certainly a lot different than than mountain biking is now in the more modern form. So I have nothing to lose by trying. And at that time, I think the big catalyst for making that choice was I was just kind of not really burnt out on mountain biking, but I was I just felt like I was stalling. You know, I wasn’t really getting results, to write home about it at World Cups or anything. And yeah, I just wanted to see what I was capable of, because I felt like I could didn’t really have any more room to grow, or maybe not even more potential on the mountain bike. So I thought, yeah, there’s absolutely nothing to lose by trying out road racing.

 

Trevor Connor  08:03

That’s fair. You’re 16 you’ve been at it a long time. Explore new avenues in life.

 

Chris Case  08:10

Can you give us a sense of what your training was like when you were a collegiate mountain biker?

 

08:15

Yeah, when I was collegiate, I was. I would pretty much just go on a couple over the weekend. Yeah, just as long as I could ride, basically, and do as many clients as I could do until I was dead. And then I would go home and go back to the cafeteria and stuff. My face have a couple cokes. And so

 

Chris Case  08:35

so basically, not a lot of thought went into it. It was right. As much as I couldn’t have fun with it. Yeah, it

 

08:41

was definitely the more train harder, not smarter. I mean, it was really fun at the time, and I don’t think I paid any price for it. Or you know, it didn’t stunt any development or anything. I think he was just

 

Chris Case  08:56

it’s probably what would it keeps you fresh to like you don’t want a lot of structure, perhaps when you’re progressing that quickly through the sport or just getting into it. Yeah, I assume you weren’t using a power meter much or looking at that data? No, at that time. No, I

 

09:12

think I had a power meter. Starting in 2014. Okay, yeah. Before that. I just go on epic mountain bike rides are

 

09:21

which is all fun and feel.

 

09:23

Yeah, just fun in that. Yeah. I never really thought much of it. And I was never like, Oh, I need to make this choice. And this is just Yeah,

 

Chris Case  09:32

whatever. You probably at that time didn’t think that you were going to become a professional cyclist either.

 

09:37

No, definitely not. I thought yeah, just, I mean, I obviously loved riding my bike, but I’d never thought that I would be post college that I would be doing this for a living or anything like that. I just thought yeah, do it to the best of my ability but never was I I never had a plan for myself like I have to do X and Y to be a world tour. By Year 2000 whatever so right? Right, right. Never had that idea.

 

Trevor Connor  10:04

So you transition from mountain biking to collegiate so you start doing collegiate roadside. What was it like for you when you started doing your first NRC? So I’ve seen a lot of guys who are racing locally and then they go to an NRC for the first time. And it’s a bit of a Yeah, a shell shock reaction. What was it like for you? Yeah, I

 

10:22

think 2015 the only NRC race I did was Hema. And I was on amateur team at the time team out of Utah under Mount lovewell. And yeah, did he lie? And I thought, yeah, I’m pretty good at climbing. I think like, I can do the the Strava k ones in Boulder. I’m probably all right. And then off, man, I just got totally shattered at that race. So it was it was pretty fun. I thought, Man, I guess I’ll never make it as a road racer. That’s hilarious. It’s just like, I can’t I can’t climb with the top 30 guys in this race. And but I, you know, I wasn’t like crushed because of it. I just thought, well, man, these guys are really fast. And then But yeah, I think that just shows how much in roadracing how much of it is experience and knowing how to race rather than just putting your head down and going hard, which you see a lot in your because in your view, you see people racing with people that are that actually know how to race. It’s not that they I mean, they do but nobody’s head and shoulders physiologically above. Everybody else. It’s right. You’re

 

Chris Case  11:33

all humans. Yes. The intelligence sometimes.

 

11:36

Yeah, sometimes experience and the ability to a lot of different things. But yeah, it’s

 

Trevor Connor  11:42

Yeah, so it’s gonna ask you that first time Akilah? Was it deer just that much stronger? Or was it much as much experience and knowing where to be at the right time? And

 

11:51

yeah, I think for me, it was a lot of it was experienced, because I was just using so much energy when I didn’t need to. And then by the time the clients came, I was completely empty. And I think it was a bit of that and bit of just physically maturing and you were 21 at the time. 20. Yeah, 20 or 21? Yeah, this is my sophomore year of college.

 

Trevor Connor  12:17

So how to progress from there? It was, it was at the point where you said, I want to try to make a go at this, or did you just yeah, I

 

12:23

mean, even even though I didn’t in 2015, I think I did, I only did he law and cascade. And I didn’t really have like any big results or anything that indicated that I could do while there. But even then I was much more intrigued by the racing than I was with a mountain bike racing, as I said, Well, now now this is the new project to be good at that road racing. And so then yeah, 2016 I said, Okay, I’m not gonna mount bike anymore. I’ll just focus on this. And my best shot

 

Chris Case  12:57

in you use the word project Do you at this might take us down are off on a tangent. But do you consider this like an experiment? I know you in the past, you haven’t had a coach, and we’ve talked about that are your I assume that you use that word, because you’re always learning, you’re always sort of tweaking things and trying to prs?

 

13:20

Yeah, I think it’d be silly to say that racing in the world tour is like a project for me, because it’s like, I can’t, you know, there’s there’s not much room, you know, for, for error or for saying, Yeah, I don’t feel like doing it, you know? Yeah, it’s, yeah, that’s probably the, the pinnacle of what I could do. So I think that’s pretty exciting. But well, so

 

Trevor Connor  13:40

taking a step back, you said you didn’t really have any results in 2015. That said anything, but this now became your project?

 

13:47

Yeah.

 

Trevor Connor  13:48

What were the steps in that project? How did you say I’m going to go from what it was in 2015? to a guy who’s winning these races? Was there a methodology to it? Or was it just

 

Chris Case  13:59

ride riding? or? Yeah,

 

14:01

I think most of it was just the mindset, really, because when I was mountain biking, I just, I didn’t have that like winning mindset, because I knew like, Oh, I’m starting fifth row in this race. It’s not feasible for me to get a top 10. I mean, you know, there, there are guys that do that. And they’re incredible writers, but I was being honest with myself. And I said, That’s not, not for me. So I think when I when I fully, at least mentally when I fully went to the road, I said, Okay, this is a sport where you don’t always have to be the, the freak of nature or whatever to win the race. And you know, there’s a lot of things that go into actually getting the results. So I said, well, it’s, it’s not just black and white. So there’s a lot of things that I could improve on. And then the racing was so exciting to me. So I said, Well, I have so much room to improve and the positioning and tactics that that was a big, big aspect of it not just the, the physical side, because I don’t think my training changed too much, really.

 

Trevor Connor  15:06

So how did you figure it out? You didn’t have a coach to teach you this stuff. Were you talking to people or just go to races? And

 

15:12

yeah, talk to people? And yeah, I mean, there’s so many people in Boulder that that have, you know, get information. Yeah, just the technique of not just writing a race, but of like, pedaling being smooth on the bike, all those things that yeah, that I think still a lot of people don’t fully notice or understanding themselves. And, yeah, it’s hard to say what exactly clicked, but I really do think is just the mentality. I think my body I was suited more towards road racing. But mentally, I was just more fresh for road cycling.

 

Trevor Connor  15:48

Fair enough. So there was never that shell shock of Oh, my God, I’m out of my league.

 

15:53

I mean, now there is Yeah.

 

15:57

We’re aware. We’re anxiously awaiting your answers on that. Yeah.

 

Trevor Connor  16:02

But certainly. So in the in the domestic scene, you never had that it was just more this is something that I want to do. You were excited. And

 

16:08

yeah, I mean, there’s so much that you can look into and like nowadays, you can look up any pro on Strava. And 60% of them have their power number, you can say, Oh, that’s a cool interval. Like my try that today or things like that, or you see the numbers they do in races, and you say, Okay, well, like that might be attainable for me with certain amount of training and things like that. So yeah, I think nowadays, there’s so much that’s transparent. Like for me, a guy who likes to, yeah, study on that sort of thing. It seemed more realistic.

 

Trevor Connor  16:43

your mindset fascinates me, because they’re you. And this is full compliment. We kind of suspected this beforehand. And we talked about how you progress then you just kind of were very methodical about it and said, Okay, I’m here. I want to get here. And I’m going to figure out how to do that. Yeah, just found your ways of doing it. And does it sound like certainly at the domestic scene there was ever a doubt of, can I do this? It was just, let’s let’s figure it out. Mm. I think back to a race I did a long time ago. So this is before your time that so the big race back in the old days was torta tuna. And I went with this composite squad and we had two guys on it. One guy who he was a really good regional writer where he was from, he was getting a lot of races and they The idea was the whole team was going to work for him. And then there was this kid on the team. He was 19. He was at his first big race. And it was fascinating watching because the guy who was the really good regional writer, he was used to just I can just break away right away from the fields and when the races when he tried this in an NRC, he was out there for 10 minutes to field Cod, dropped him. Yeah. And at the hotel that night, he just said I’m never doing an NRC again, never did never never left where he was from. The kid was out of his league. He was struggling. He was having a tough time. barely made it through the race. But completely different response. He just went, I want to figure this out. This is the coolest thing in the world. Like I am definitely not good enough for this right now. But boy, I want to get there. And he ended up going pro. Oh, that’s awesome. Yeah. And so I was kind of I had a feeling you were more like he was even if you struggled, it was just not I’m gonna figure this out.

 

18:25

Yeah, yeah, absolutely. Like, I mean, this year, I’m in a totally different situation and even further out of my comfort zone. But I think even if you’re just getting your head kicked in all the time, it’s for me, it’s it’s demoralizing, but it’s, you know, you have to start somewhere. And some guys, they’re they’re Neo pro year. They’re like Bernal he’s almost winning world to races. So yeah, but I think those guys are the exception and being realistic with myself. It’s, you know, I have to start at a at a lower level or expectations. And yeah, I think if you immediately say, Ah, this isn’t for me, it’s not in my my wheelhouse. Never again, then already losing but

 

Chris Case  19:09

I think it says something about ego to, you know, like a regional writer that doesn’t NRC and gets his butt kicked, says I’m never doing one again, because he probably wants to win regional races because he wants that feeling of winning the 19 year old that says, You know, I want to figure this out and turns pro and with you said, it’s like, I want to figure this house because ego isn’t a barrier for you to progress and you are willing to get your head kicked in to hopefully one day, figure it out. And whatever that means for you. You’re never going to win the Tour de France, right? No. And you’re accepted. You accept that, but but a result here or there is is that’s what keeps you going.

 

19:49

Yeah,

 

Trevor Connor  19:50

yeah, absolutely. Well, that story that I just told you, I tell that to athletes, somewhat regularly and I use that story as as a explaining why failure is important, simply because it’s exactly that there was an ego thing the regional rider, he did not like to fail, he did not like to lose. And when he competed at a level where he necessarily was going to lose for a while, no, I want to go back to where I can win. Where the the kid had progressed much further and calling him a kid. I’m not giving you the name, because I’ve know you’ve heard of him, and you’re gonna go Wait, he’s you think he’s a kid?

 

Chris Case  20:26

kid anymore?

 

Trevor Connor  20:27

Got a kid Eddie. Well, you know, you were Rob Britain’s teammate. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, Rob, and I were training out of the same center when he was just starting out. Yeah, that’s awesome. What I’m interested in asking you and what this kid was willing to accept is if you really want to hit higher levels, failure is a big part of the game. And it seems like that just doesn’t bug you at all.

 

20:49

No, not too much. I mean, I think I’m pretty pretty optimist. Not like delusionally optimistic. Yeah, there’s there’s definitely people that are, I think, delusionally optimistic that wow, that’s kind of rude, I guess. But no, no. Especially in cycling, you know, when when it’s so accessible to be like a pro, you know, there’s people that are just forcing it too much, you know, but, uh, for me, I’m just pretty, pretty optimistic. And I, I know, I know what my limitations are. But, you know, you can always surprise yourself.

 

Chris Case  21:24

Let’s jump into that a little bit. You have had several DNS this year. Yeah. You’re you stepped into the big leagues. Yeah. You’ve been in the breakaway at startup Yankee. You had some some highs and some probably more lows, though. Yeah. And you’ve had your head kicked in as as, as you’ve said, How do you cope with that?

 

21:46

It’s hard to say cuz it’s for those races, like, for example, like, Basque Country, I’ve never done anything. That’s that hard. And I’ve never done that race before. Even so it’s I don’t know what to go off of, for a lot of those races. You know, like, I don’t know if, what, what kind of improvement I can shoot for, like, next year, or in the next month? Because I don’t know what, you know, it’s completely foreign. trained to me, you know.

 

Trevor Connor  22:13

So what was do you say, it’s the hardest thing you’ve ever done? What was different comparing it to like a cascades or even a tour of California,

 

22:20

for Basque Country is just yeah, harder all day. And, like, for me, I felt like I was like, maybe probably was like one of the heavier guys. You know. So if you get dropped on a, on a climb, there’s literally no one to get dropped with.

 

Chris Case  22:36

Can you? Can you take us through one of the stages, like, just give us give us the dirty, despairing tale of Sep at the tour of the Basque Country? Yeah, I

 

22:47

think, let’s see the first stage it was, it was hard, but it was normal. But the second stage is, I mean, all the gaps are still pretty close on GC. So it was probably like a two hour fight for the breakaway. And we started just on a standard coastal road kind of head when and then we got to the top of the climb, it was still beautiful weather and then all of a sudden the clouds came in and just started raining mysteriously on this super fast ascent. So then the the group split, I think right at the bottom of the descent, and somehow I was in the first part of it, just recovering moves and everything like that I ended up being but half of our team was in the second one half of us were in the first so and then from there, after the big split, we went into this crazy road I wrote 1000 turns or something

 

23:36

sounds great. Racing. Yeah,

 

23:38

like every every turn full sprint, every straightaway was one position one visit you know, I just try to hang on and then I look back. Last we’ll go hang on, I think and then at that point, it was I was completely completely dead. And then then we go up the first actual climb. Wow, categorised climb, which is steep go path. Yeah, so then I’m still last wheel just coming out of these little, you know, nasty corner flat, uphill kind of road. And then. Yeah, and then I got dropped from the first group, I think, Oh, no, I’m just a no man’s land. Like, why couldn’t I just stayed with the first group. And then, as I’m just kind of there, trying to save energy, but not really. And then the second group catches me. And then we still have to come back to the first group. So then I’m pulling again with with my teammates that are back there to get up to promos again in the first group. And then right when we make contact, then then we’re writing the front again. And which I’m happy to do because I’d rather do my work and be dead last by 30 minutes then just surviving.

 

Chris Case  24:49

Right. You feel like you have a purpose. Yeah. Yeah. That that probably helps mentally.

 

24:54

Yeah, definitely. And then after that, I think after 30 minutes of pulling, then ways started this really heinous climb in the middle of the race. I think it was like 12 15% for it seemed like it was 10 K, but it’s probably only two K. And then got dropped on that. And then I think I had there may be three guys with me, it just shows the level that race though, like no one really write that. But for me that was that was the limit, you know. And then for the next I think 50 K, it was just us in the cars, you know, trying to get back. And then right when I get back, I think I’ll take some bottles, you know, you know, a good, good teammate and then and then rise, I take the bottles started another I think just kept tree climb. But at that time, you know, felt like a cat one climb to me and I have like, five bottles on me and I think I can make it

 

Trevor Connor  25:47

to the top. I could

 

25:50

just get rid of the bottles. You’re not gonna make it out of the sky. Get rid of the bottles again. blindly, they get to the group over the top, and I think okay, now now I just have to survive. Like, there’s nothing more I can do. And that was stage one, one step forward, two steps backwards. Yeah. But uh, yeah.

 

Trevor Connor  26:08

So what was your feeling after that to do? What did you just go back and go, what did I get myself? Excited, or I was pretty

 

26:15

excited when I finished. And then I get on the bus and everyone looks at me, oh.

 

Chris Case  26:22

We didn’t kill the American.

 

26:25

But yeah, after that stage, I actually felt a lot better. Physically, I think, for some reason I just was improving from then on. But I mean, it was still really hard. Right? every stage was.

 

Trevor Connor  26:37

Yeah. So here’s a question I have for you. And I have a definite bias. In terms of the answer for this question. Yeah, but I’m interested in your response. Do you think any amount of training could have prepared you for that race? Or do you feel you need to do races at that level before you can actually do races at that level?

 

26:58

Yeah, I think in my case, I think that is my opinion. But I personally think I could have trained a lot more leading into that race, because what was it I think, a couple days before we did a one day race to Limburg. And, and before that, I was just feeling really, really bad and training and just I get what I was supposed to do a power test. I couldn’t even do the power test. I mean, there’s I got five minutes in and couldn’t even hold anything worth. worth while.

 

Trevor Connor  27:27

Only what you and I

 

Chris Case  27:28

  1. Yeah. Probably 100 watts

 

27:31

more than what you guys are machines. Yeah. So I think I think mentally for me, it’s, it’s harder for me to be in a good mental place. If I know that I’m not, like, at my best physically leading into a race for I mean, for me, it just in general, it’s an adjustment being with like, you know, team, team trainers and everything. Not not in a bad way. It’s just, you know, I’m used to having being very autonomous. And for me, I don’t need people like checking in to see how I’m doing training. I just do the work and confident in what I do. And then it usually works out. But yeah, it before that race, I was in a bad place physically. And I think maybe mentally to it just because I knew that this is gonna be a hard race. Like, I’m not anywhere near my best shape. And even in my best shape, it would still be a, you know, really hard race to get through. So.

 

Trevor Connor  28:23

So it wasn’t a shock to the system of Oh, my God, I had no idea it was gonna be this hard. It was just more. You’re aware you were going in firing on all cylinders? Yeah,

 

28:32

yeah. And yeah, I mean, personally, I have lower expectations. And then when I started improving later in the race, it was probably a better better sign. But yeah, going into it. I was just ready to

 

Chris Case  28:45

do you know, you going back to your story about the tour of the healer, the first time you did that you think, you know, I can climb and you go there and you get crushed? Yeah, now you’ve stepped up. So then you go to the, to the Basque Country. And a similar thing sort of to that toward the healing experience happens to you get your head kicked in. It’s really hard. You’re like, holy crap. So where do you go from here? How do you get to the point where next year or two years from now, the tour of the Basque Country, you’re not fighting to hang on to the, the just the, with your fingertips to the backs of the group? You’re contesting. You’re contending or you’re just able to do more work, and it’s just a more pleasant experience.

 

29:36

Yeah. So you’re asking what it what do you think I need to do or

 

Chris Case  29:40

Yeah, I mean, you you maybe didn’t have an exact roadmap of how you went from getting your butt kicked at the top of the hill to where you are now, but you made it there. And I would assume that you want to have better experiences the next time you do a tour of the Basque Country. So do you have a plan in your mind of how you get there.

 

30:00

Yeah, that’s a good thing to bring up with the with healer because yeah, there’s a similar feeling like, Oh, I think I’m okay. But I just did this race and I’m, you know not not okay, so it’s the same thing with Yeah, those crazy climbing World Tour races where you think yeah, maybe I’ll get like top 20 on one stage. And but so I think, yeah, I think it’s the same thing though just just doing it once. Mm hmm, is better than just going into it for the first time. So I think Yeah, after one one time of being at the back, I think, yeah, there’s no reason that just from an experience standpoint, that it won’t be 10 times better than that. You know, maybe that’s optimistic. But I but just in my observations of how I’ve progressed in road races, a lot of it is just so much experience for me and then been if I’m in a similar physical shape. I’m a lot better the second time around once I write down a race or experience a certain situation. So

 

Trevor Connor  31:03

that was certainly what I was getting out with my bias. I’m a big believer that we we rise or lower to the level of the competition. Yeah, you just kind of naturally start to understand, here’s the level that’s expected of me. And we’re actually somewhat it’s difficult for us to really exceed that level. So you need to kind of get hit by that higher level and go oh, my god. Yeah. And then reset your expectations in your head of what’s normal?

 

31:27

Yeah, yeah, definitely. Yeah. Yeah, I think my usually, if I’m going to raise my expectations are usually pretty, pretty accurate. So it’s not like I get super, super frustrated, you know, after race, I can move on. Pretty quick, which is I, for me, it’s a strength because, you know, there’s always always another day, always another race. And it’s not the end of the world, you know, but yeah, I think where, where maybe some guys struggle, especially in their first years, not that I’ve been through it yet, or anything, but if you just dig yourself in a mental hole, then you’re never gonna have different expectations, or you’re always have expectations that are too high, and then you’re you’re never satisfied or you are a true optimist.

 

Trevor Connor  32:12

So the big question I want to ask you, and please take your time with this, you know, one thing you’ve demonstrated is you’ve been somebody who’s able to jump up a level, get kicked around a little bit and stay centered, stay focused, and figure it out and learn to be successful at that next level. And it’s kind of exciting to have you in here while you’re in the process of it now. But certainly everybody and I’m gonna say most of our listeners here at some point another are going to take on a race that’s going to be above any the level they’re used to, and they’re going to have to confront being a little out of their league. What advice do you have for the listeners for dealing with those situations?

 

32:51

That’s a good question. Yeah, I mean, I guess first, first bullet point. And that would be just know that if you’ve done the preparation, and you’ve obviously earned that through just being like starting in this race, you know, whether, whether it’s because you’re in that category of your cat, too, and you just upgraded and now you’re in a cat to race or, or you’re, you know, you’re a pro and you’re in a pro race, you’ve obviously earned that. So it’s not like you, you shouldn’t be there. So that’s, you know, the first mental Roadblock, and then just know that when it’s when it’s really hard, and you think, oh, man, I might let go, this is really, this is really hard. It’s hard for everybody else. You know, that’s, I think that’s what you notice in Europe. It’s like when it’s hard everywhere, everyone’s suffering, but they’re also really good at suffering. And some guys are good at hiding it too. So it’s, you think oh, man, like, this is this is mentally and physically really hard, but you just have to, you just have to hang on, sometimes you just don’t have a choice. But to hang on. That was the view. That’s what you think of in your head? Think? No, there’s no, no option I need to hang on to this group, then. What does it mean to be really good at suffering? I

 

Chris Case  34:04

think people out there Don’t you know that that’s a bit vague. Do you use any particular strategy to help you cope with the pain, the suffering and the Is it a mental thing? Is it a boy, do you have a mantra? Do you play play a specific song in your head? Is there anything like that? Or is it just germination?

 

34:28

No mantra, but I think just from experience, like when you let go, and you have like go for what 10 seconds or five minutes you think and you know yeah, it’s almost a worse feeling than hanging on and, and and being in that other dark place. So you always at least for me, I think back to that i think it’s it’s worse when when you not give up but when you can’t go anymore and in regret,

 

Trevor Connor  34:56

the mental outweighs the the physical of it. And I work with with athletes who struggle with that, one of the things I have them do is when they line up on the start line, they have to finish the race. Hmm. The reason being when I get to that point where they’re really hurting, and and let go, it’s usually with the idea. Well, I’ll just pull out of the race. Yeah. All you have to do is have one race where you sit there behind chasing me on the field by yourself for an hour with everybody on the sideline going way to go. Just kind of go. I’m never doing that again. Yeah, yeah, I will go to that other dark place. And Hang on. Yep. So I don’t have to be behind the fields. Yeah. Yeah.

 

35:35

Cuz Yeah. Then you always, you know, when you’re when you’re decompress from the race or whatever, you always look back and think, yeah, I probably could probably could have just dug a little deeper. Yeah, I won’t. I won’t let it happen next time. It takes a while to, to know that. But I think that’s what I, I think of it’s just disappointing yourself.

 

35:55

So guilt or regret or whatever. Yeah.

 

Trevor Connor  35:59

Yeah. So continuing with that question. Let’s take that cat to this guy’s you have a rider. They’ve just upgraded to cat two, they’ve gotten into a race and they just got, you know, kicked around, dropped out of the group finished way back? What do they do, then? What What do you do to get yourself back? on course? Do you reevaluate your training? Is it just mental and tell yourself eventually, I’m gonna figure it out? Or how do you keep yourself from getting demoralized? And

 

36:24

it’s definitely helpful to evaluate, but I don’t think it’s necessarily good to evaluate the whole whole training, because a lot of it is just just trust. Yeah, sometimes it’s just just a luck thing, or, you know, and there’s so many so many factors and road races, like you got killed in this crit. But these three guys were is their peak peak event of the year and, and for you, it was your build up or whatever. And others, there’s so many people in the race and so many different outcomes that you can’t just be set on that end result. Because there’s so many, so many variables that are out of control, you know, so if you did your best, I don’t see why you can’t go into the next race and think, Okay, well, maybe the whatever variables there are going to work in my favor, maybe. Maybe I’m good at cross wins. And, you know, the next race has cross wins, maybe then those guys that beat me in this race will be behind or that’s keep in perspective. Yeah,

 

Trevor Connor  37:24

that is a bad race. So I suck and I should

 

37:28

quit. Yes. Yeah, I know. You should never get to take it personally, I don’t think Yeah.

 

Trevor Connor  37:38

dial in the most advanced recovery for your body with Norma tech patented compression massage technology. Riders like Taylor, Finney, Toms scotch, and the BMC racing team all rely on normatec to get them through the daily grind to professional cycling. normatec increases circulation, rejuvenates muscles and reduces soreness so you can train harder and race faster. Stop by the normatec 10 to the Colorado classic, try for yourself and feel what everybody is talking about.

 

Chris Case  38:12

We have this sort of unique opportunity. Because last November, all three of us sitting here, work on this science of climbing project and it’s November you go out and do a time trial up Flagstaff mountain in Boulder, which is sort of famous climb, everybody uses it to test their form. You’re wearing lots of clothes, it’s 30 degrees Fahrenheit out it was cold that day. Yeah. And you set time that until yesterday, was was second on the list. Laughlin went up there. And vestiges was worthy. Yeah. And now we’re talking to you and it’s well into your first season on the World Tour. It brings up a number of questions in my mind. At the time you said oh, you know, I’m not. I’m not going too fast. Now for for being in November. I’m not overtraining. Because I’m getting ready for the World Tour. I’m not I’m not doing anything differently than I would otherwise. And trevena are like, Well, I know if I were him, I’d be like, Man, I’m stepping up. I’ve got a maybe do a little bit more. Looking back on that time. Did you do too much were you over? Did you come in a little bit over not overcooked, but with a little bit too much in you.

 

39:30

It’s hard to say cuz comparing it to like 2016 I was training a lot more at that time into that, you know, and I was Yeah, maybe comparing 2016 the beginning of 2017 November 2017. I was in much better shape 2016 at that time, but you can’t really compare like, I guess I was so used to taking like four months off the bike for for cc And you know, and then start writing again in May, and then, you know, start skiing again when when the snow falls. So, so now it’s like, oh, I’m, I, I’m a cyclist, like, I like to ride my bike. If I if I take like four weeks off completely, or just running or whatever, then I come back and I have like knee injuries and all this stuff. So I just prefer to, to ride more in the offseason. But uh, yeah, so this season was pretty, that’s a pretty relaxed relative to season before in terms of writing or training during the offseason. But uh, yeah, I don’t know, I think, maybe a bit more rest, just knowing how hard the races are in the spring and just being a little a little fresher. But

 

Chris Case  40:43

you’re saying that that is what you did? Or that what you will be doing next year? Or both?

 

40:51

I was kind of like, half in half out? Because I said, Oh, yes, yeah, maybe good to have a bit more rest. But for the same time, you know, I want to not just be surviving in the spring races. So maybe I should, you know, really, really go all in now and then take a good break mill the season, but which has usually worked for me. But yeah, maybe I underestimated the the amount of rest that you need, leading into a huge season and more races and everything. Because I think in the past, at least on the US scene. I was Yeah, training a lot more a lot more intensity. Yeah, just just more in general. And maybe maybe training at a higher level in terms of numbers that I was putting up in training, but but I wasn’t racing nearly as much as I am now.

 

Trevor Connor  41:42

So So now you’re getting more of it through racing?

 

41:46

Yeah, I think I mean, yeah, the group out is still

 

Trevor Connor  41:53

not that big a time.

 

Chris Case  41:55

And I’m curious also to know, if I don’t think you’re adamantly opposed to having a coach. You didn’t have a coach, when we were working with you in November? I assume that they’re the lotto nL yumbo has some coaches that you’re working with? Do you think that? Have you reassessed whether you need a personal coach to work with you to get you to the next level to be able to compete more in these races that you’re now dealing?

 

42:26

Yeah, I think just from the team standpoint, yeah, you definitely need coaches that are internal just to make sure everyone’s doing the work and because it’s, it’s very formulaic, you’re not in a bad way, it’s just they have this certain race where they need these writers to be ready and this writer to be the leader. So I think for them, it makes it easier to, to manage everybody from a coaching standpoint, so I can totally understand that. But I think for me, like I mentioned earlier, at least mentally, I, I work better just do my own thing. Not. I think something I can improve on is like leaving comments on my, you know, my training files, because I think, well, if, if it wasn’t good, I don’t have anything, anything to say if if something goes bad, you’ll you’ll hear from me, but usually it’s pretty, pretty even keel in terms of what I what I have to say. But but obviously communications is really important. But yeah, it’s hard to say if I would be be better in this in this like World Tour situation if I would be better doing my own thing or, or with a Yeah, more managed? Yes,

 

Chris Case  43:36

Trevor, I think you probably have some some things to say.

 

Trevor Connor  43:40

I really don’t know, I’m quite interested. I mean, as we’ve talked about, every athlete is different and some really neat guidance. For everything I’ve seen of you. You’re not somebody who just trains haphazardly or randomly you’re very thoughtful about it. And my guess is we looked at your your training routine, we’d say that’s, that’s very structured, that’s Yeah, well coached. And you figure that out on your own, and you also have to be comfortable with your training. And every time we talk about this with you, I kind of hear in your voice this. I like my freedom. I like to be making my own choices. And you don’t like the idea of somebody coming in and telling you what you should be doing every day.

 

44:19

Yeah, it’s not that I don’t like the idea but if after example, if I have a general trading day, then I think oh, what should I do? And then I and then a lot of the times I’ll just end up doing something stupid like writing 270 watts for you know, whatever and then is not really gonna do too much for you. But yeah,

 

Trevor Connor  44:43

I own 1%

 

44:46

for me, that’s that’s hard. But it’s Yeah. Yeah, it for me. If it’s open ended with with someone telling you that it’s open ended, then I’ll always strive to do something. Yeah, maybe still. But yeah, something that you look back on two days later and say, Oh, I shouldn’t have done that. And that’s why I’m tired today. But before it was more more methodical, because I had just this plan, right? And yeah, now it’s a different plan, because you have different roles. And, you know, you may not know if you’re gonna be subbing in for a race that weekend or something like that. So it’s just different different training philosophies, which is, which is not not a bad thing, just

 

Trevor Connor  45:33

just just figuring it out. Yeah. So the question I’m interested in asking you is, you obviously figured out a very good training routine to make yourself very successful in the North American circuit. So you’re now just now getting over to Europe, you’ve talked to us about fast country and what some of these races are like, now that you’re getting a sense for it over there. What elements would you change about your training? Is there anything you look back and say that was good for North American style racing, but boy, I need to do it differently now?

 

46:06

Yeah, it’s interesting, because like I said, the team has a general coaching philosophy. So you can say, Oh, look at look at promos, we’re doing similar training, but he’s already won two World Tour races this year. Right. You know, so obviously, it’s really good training. So yeah, I can take confidence in that. But I think, for the for the North American stuff, I guess I was training in a way that was where I could win win the race, you know, it was all about making that, like a winning acceleration or being able to attack Yeah, being able to attack or being able to clear the lactate when, when it’s, you know, a kilometer to go. And now it’s different roles. So maybe, yeah, more low, low threshold training. And yeah, just to make it through the longer races, and in the US, it’s really high power at the end, but everything preceding that is not.

 

Trevor Connor  47:03

So it’s really us is really working that high intensity work in that Yeah, power rear up is much more about. You need to hang on for five hours.

 

47:12

Yeah, definitely. Definitely. Yeah, you need to be extremely, extremely efficient. Yeah, be able to produce that 20 minute power that you did in the US after writing 150 watts, but you need to do that in Europe after writing on more than 150 watts,

 

Chris Case  47:30

it’s also I mean, you’re hinting at the fact or not even hinting, but saying it has a lot to do with the role that you play. It used to be when you’re on rally, you are going for stage wins. Yeah. Now you’re bottle guy, huh? So your role is completely different. You don’t necessarily need to function in the same way your training has has evolved because of that.

 

47:53

Mm hmm. Yeah. Yeah. I would agree with that.

 

Trevor Connor  47:56

So for the guys over in Europe who are trying to win, is it Are they training similar to the guys trying to win in the US or is it still different? Hmm.

 

48:06

I yeah. I think they train a lot easier than guys in the US. Really? Oh, yeah. I mean, that’s that’s my, yeah. Not not easier. Just just different.

 

Chris Case  48:16

Is it more intelligent?

 

Trevor Connor  48:20

A lot more low intensity?

 

48:21

Yeah, I’d say that. Yeah. More.

 

Chris Case  48:25

Try hard days are really hard in the easy days. I really easy.

 

48:29

Yeah, yeah,

 

Chris Case  48:30

it’s more polarized.

 

48:32

Yeah, just a lot more a lot more mild. You know, just just a lot more just riding I guess. Okay. Oh, at least that’s what I’ve noticed in my own training, too. It’s a lot of just just riding. Okay. Just riding Yeah. All right. no secret that no secret formula is just

 

Chris Case  48:49

are there numbers attached to those those easy rides? Are they just like, Go easy? Or do they say stay below?

 

48:56

This? Yeah, for me is ride less than 210 watts? Yeah, just ride.

 

Trevor Connor  49:02

Okay. So 210 watts. So we measured when he was just coming off of a break seps threshold power at right about 330. I’m guessing you’re significantly higher than that now. So you’re when you’re saying 210 watts, we’re probably talking 60 65% of your threshold power.

 

Chris Case  49:23

about that.

 

49:24

I can’t do that. Two thirds. Yeah. Yeah. So easy. Yeah. Okay.

 

Chris Case  49:34

And let’s disregard your results. Let’s throw that. I mean, it’s hard to do, but throw out all the other things that have to do with bike racing. How do you actually feel physically do you feel stronger than you’ve ever been?

 

49:48

No, no, no, but yeah, it’s just such a different situation. You know, like, if I if I compare it to a lactate test, I did. After California last year to now it would be probably much better last year but but yeah, I think there’s Yeah, there’s so much going into that, you know, the fact that I’ve already done probably like three fourths of the race days that I did last year and all the rest that’s associated with that and heavier than I was last year just for whatever reason, you know, just just think things like that.

 

Trevor Connor  50:24

Joe de broski, one of the leaders of EF education first drapac, presented by canadel was the 2015 winner of the tour of Utah. This year Dombroski and the EF education squad we’re what a seps top rivals for the yellow jersey. The second to last day the Queen stage of the tour EF education took control before the finishing Snowbird climb and relentlessly attacks at trying to take the jersey off his back. When dobrowski attacks separate with them quickly wilting the group down to just a few writers that ultimately CEP dropped, all of them went on to win a second to three stages in a row. We bring this up because we recorded an interview with Dombroski, about his training for our episode and polarized training. But unfortunately, didn’t have the space for it. Thankfully, we hung on to the interview knowing we’d be able to use it in a future episode. So now we have this incredible opportunity to compare the training of two of the biggest contenders at this year’s tour of Utah without offering any opinion. Let’s hear what Dombrowski has to say about his training since 2015.

 

Chris Case  51:26

Do you take a polarized approach to your training?

 

51:31

I would say that for me, it depends on the time of year, the last few years, I’ve in the winter gone to actually a really low volume, highly anaerobic focus. If, for example, in December a week, I might only do 14 to 16 hours on the bike in a week. But which for you is Oh, which for? Yeah, for a world tour rider that would be a pretty light week. Yep. So I’ve gone to this sort of winter plan of doing these low volume weeks where maybe I’ll have one and a half to two hours a day and then one long ride per week. And but with that I’ve been doing typically three days in the gym per week, mostly focusing on major compound movements. So squatting deadlifting, I used to leg press, and then the rest is more like sort of core stability type type work. And then on the bike, a lot of focus on maximal efforts from five seconds to two minutes. And also this year actually, I did quite a bit of riding probably twice a week on fixed gear, which you know, I didn’t have a power meter on it, I just go by heart rate. But it’s similar in that, you know, if you go do a ride on rolling hilly terrain and a fixed gear, you’re going to be stomping up some climbs at 600 watts, and then you’re going to be spinning at 130 RPM downhill sometimes. So you have a lot of variability in cadence, but also power. And then later in the year, you know now sort of getting into this like pre Jarrow first grantor or the year time period, I go more to more sustained efforts, a lot more volume. And I this is the third winter I’ve done this and I started it when the winter after the 2015 season. Jonathan Vaughters who’s obviously our team manager, started writing my training plans. And we, we did this focus, you know, on this really anaerobic stuff, mostly because I’m already so I do well with, you know, these longer efforts at altitude, really steady state stuff. But often the, you know, the hardest part of the race for me is just jumping out of corners or coming into the bottom of climbs that sort of stuff. And the first year, so 2016 it worked really well. 2017 we started throwing a lot of this, like fatmax like steady state type efforts in the winter as well. So it’d be like, you know, maybe two day blocks with like an anaerobic focus. And in the second day, we built up to even like, it was a bit crazy, but like, I would do like a six hour ride with three times 90 minutes, like 320 watts. And it didn’t work at all like I was, I was uh, I just really most of the year I didn’t ride very well and I probably just Trying to bit too hard in the winter. And I don’t know if I really, I mean, there were times I was like kind of close to where i knew i, where i knew i can be. But it wasn’t a great year. And this year, this winter, we went back to Canada, anaerobic focus over the winter, but stayed away from that sort of middle. If you just, I guess, middle power, if you want to call it that. And now, I’ve gotten into, you know, I’ve been at altitude, been doing more longer sustained efforts. So I guess, to go back to your question, there are times of the year where there’s really polarized training in the sense that this winter, I’d go out and do maybe two hours in the morning, and ride it 200 watts, and then do a one minute, maximal efforts, and then in the evening, go to the gym and be squatting in the gym, like five by five, sort of reps.

 

56:04

Whereas now that we’re getting closer to my big objectives for the year, we kind of get away from that. And personally, I found it, that sort of model works well, for me, kind of developing that real peak power. And then as we get more into the season, adding in more volume, and sometimes I come into the season, a bit maybe undercooked, you know, like some of the races in February or March, you haven’t really done much volume yet. And in maybe it’s not all quite there, but I feel like that model works pretty well for me. How have

 

Chris Case  56:44

you and Jonathan arrived at this point? Is he is he reading journal articles? Is he picking up things from other coaches? Or is he Are you NT working together to sort of experiment with things a little bit because you know, what, you’re good at, you know, some of your weaknesses, and you’re trying to just bring everything up to the next level? Yeah,

 

57:10

I mean, I think he’s well informed. But also some of it is, you know, there’s value to experience as a, as a writer. You know, I think you can, for example, you could go to school, and learn all about training and physiology, and really have the, you know, academic side of it down. But I think there’s a lot of value to having raised at a high level, and you have that experience. So I think it’s a bit of that, and there is probably some degree of experimentation, because you don’t always know how someone is going to respond individually to to a given type of training, right. But at the same time, you know, from my end, while obviously, sometimes mistakes are going to be made, you have to be a little bit careful about that. Because, you know, this is this is my career, and you can’t, you can’t afford to make it a big experiment. So, I think too, you have to kind of keep your wits about you and sort of, you know, not I wouldn’t drift too far off

 

Trevor Connor  58:28

this board to be the top pro that just trading, let’s get back to set up and talk about nutrition and living in Europe.

 

Chris Case  58:35

This often comes up when people go to Europe, particularly in cyclocross riders that might go over for a brief period of time, and they struggle with the lack of familiarity with everything from the surroundings, but particularly to their food. And all of that. Is that has that been a struggle at all finding the things that you perform best on in terms of your nutrition?

 

59:01

I’m not too bad. I mean, I think in the US, you have just a lot of variety. So you can either eat absolute garbage or you can read, you know, really, really good food. So, but that’s on you to you can walk into King soopers or whatever. And you have you take the blue pill or the red, you know, yeah, yeah. Yeah. The G rated, but yeah, in Europe, I think, yeah, you’re definitely limited but out. I literally do anything, so I don’t, I’m not picky at all. But I do really like to eat. Yeah, for me in Europe, I say, Oh, that’s a cool food I’ve never seen before. It’s a nice cured meat. And I don’t know if it’s good or bad for me, but I want to try it. So then yeah, there’s much more experimentation, where in the US it’s like, okay, I’ll get some rice for dinner and some, some meat and and I’m happy with that, but over there. So it’s this fun, fun topic to Right.

 

Chris Case  1:00:01

Yeah, I think I think one thing too, and correct me if I’m wrong, but you’re living in adventure right now a little bit too, which is, which is sort of envelops everything that we’re talking about this is you’re a kid, if I do say so myself, you’re a kid living in Europe with another kid, Nielsen palace. He has a roommate, living in Europe, racing bikes, and it’s an adventure, and you’re trying this, and you’re trying that, and you’re going to Basque Country, and you just described this heinous story of a stage. And Trevor asked, and how did you feel after that? And you’re like, Well, I was pretty excited about that. You know, this is, I mean, the other part of this big story is that you’re living a dream.

 

1:00:41

Yeah, definitely. I mean, it goes, it goes both ways. Because you have to embrace everything that you are, you know, take everything in that you can when you’re on this journey, but at the same time, you’re, you know, it is a job and you have to be, you have to be good. It’s here, you know, you gotta you gotta show up on the race and know that you’ve rested, properly eaten properly trained properly, because there’s no margin for for that kind of stuff. Like where it would be on the US you think I you know, Taco Bell before the before the credit, you know, it’s not gonna hurt me. But you know, you can’t over there, you can’t have talked about before the time trial at that somewhere else. It’s just not gonna it’s just not the same margin. So yeah, I think that’s been an interesting challenge for me, because pretty easygoing, I think, I function best when I’m not worried about all the little, like, when I’m on the bike, I’m very focused, and I do what I need to do. But off the bike, I can be maybe not not as focused as I as I should be. But for me, it’s finding a balance, because if I went totally monk mode, I would have burnt out, I would not be a happy happy camper. And the but on the other side, if I, if I’m drinking beer and eating chips every day, it’s probably not the ideal situation for me or anybody else.

 

Chris Case  1:02:01

Right? might not last very long, either.

 

1:02:04

Yeah, yeah. So yeah, just just to two extremes. And I’ve never been at any one of those extremes, I think I’ve had a really good good balance. And that’s, I think I credit that a lot to how I’ve been able to progress like I did, is because nothing was ever super forced.

 

Chris Case  1:02:23

I think it goes back to your point to it wasn’t even a point it was a statement about how you just carry yourself, which is setting reasonable and not delusional expectations of yourself. And that means sometimes setting your ego aside, just understanding the situation, considering all the other players, the course, whether it suits you where you are, in your season, taking all that information in, whether it’s literally writing, you know, like doing going through a checklist, or just having this innate sense, like you probably do at this point, and setting a reasonable expectation. And therefore, if you go into a race and you get your butt kicked, and you’ve got your expectations really high, you can get yourself into trouble that way.

 

1:03:08

Yeah, definitely. And, and I don’t think the expectations should ever be like, like a number or anything like like, last year, when I was like before tour of Utah, I said, Okay, I’m in I’m in good shape for Utah is coming up, I think I can do well, but I never said Oh, yeah, I’m gonna I need to get top 10 or top three or whatever. Because then then it’s just one more thing that’s like, nagging at you mentally if you don’t accomplish that thing, which is just a just a number. So yeah, for me, it’s just the the process goals like now for me, it’s like contribute to the chasing or get to this point in the in the race instead of this point where you got dropped earlier. Like, let’s let’s make it to two K to go instead of 10 k ago. And and then if you set those reasonable processes for yourself, then then it’s a lot easier than saying nationals is coming up top three or bust. You know that that?

 

Trevor Connor  1:04:08

doesn’t doesn’t help you see you’re focusing on the execution.

 

1:04:11

Yeah,

 

Trevor Connor  1:04:12

yeah, definitely. Which I think is a great thing. Because Yeah, when you’re standing on the start line, there’s nothing you can do to control whether you cross line first or not. And people have a hard time understand you can race the perfect race and get a flat tire. Yeah, 10 miles from the finish and are gonna finish that last.

 

1:04:28

Mm hmm.

 

Trevor Connor  1:04:28

But you do control things like how do I have prepared to I come into the race? Am I gonna write at the front of the field? How am I gonna approach this client? And sounds like those are the things you really focus on. And if you do it all right, and the form is there, then the result might be a win, but that’s not the focus.

 

1:04:45

Yeah, yeah. It’s not the focus. And I mean, it sucks to not get the result because that’s what you you want in the end, that’s what everybody wants is to still win or get their best number in the end, but it’s it’s hard to let go of that. I guess like you said, it’s, there’s just, there’s just so much going on. You just have to respect that, you know,

 

Chris Case  1:05:06

I think it also turns to focus towards yourself. And you can’t you can focus on yourself, you can’t worry about the other people that might show up. Because if you say I’m going to get fifth, or I’m going to get first, but then other writers that are better than you show up, then that’s just, you can only you can you have to focus on yourself at some point.

 

Trevor Connor  1:05:28

Yeah, yeah. So just do your best performance and let the chips land where they land.

 

1:05:32

Yeah, definitely. And like, for me being a new, new Pro, like, you know, I’ve talked to other guys, and they say yes, and it’s, you know, everybody is on a different different pathway and others, like there’s the slow burners, that they’re not really anywhere in the races. And then and then finally something clicks and then they start to do well, or, and then and then there’s also people that are immediately good and I don’t I don’t think it’s good to, to Yeah, compare yourself to people that are on different trajectories because everyone’s Everyone’s so different. And then if you’re comparing you say, Oh, well, he got he was top 10 and all these races in his first year and I’m not and

 

Chris Case  1:06:16

I would imagine that in your team specifically. That’s a good point to make about your team specifically because you’ve got this guy Primo glitch, who’s in some cases in some people’s minds, it seems like he’s come out of nowhere he says ski jumper and he has been riding bikes a lot and he’s just crushing it. So if you compare yourself to Him you’re gonna probably get demoralized because he’s just got that talent. He’s things are clicking, it’s working for him. Is that something you talk about on that team? specifically? Because he’s he’s got that talent and it’s clicking?

 

1:06:51

Yeah, I think for Primo is like every act Everybody knows that. He’s just a freak of nature. But But yeah, he did it like if you look, but he did have to go through the ranks, you know, riding for continental team and he tells us stories about like his first team time trial. He didn’t know that you you could not take polls, you know, so he just would ruin himself.

 

1:07:12

Polls and then get dropped. And it makes some good time trials now, I

 

1:07:15

guess. Yeah. But everybody’s starts from from somewhere. And yeah, he’s a super humble guy and has a lot of humility to and yeah, it’s interesting to hear his stories about stupid things he’s done in races or Yeah, it’s it’s interesting to see the the humility that that those top writers have, it’s pretty cool to be part of that.

 

Trevor Connor  1:07:41

So definitely sounds like in the races, you aren’t. So you said you aren’t really focused on result. It’s much more focusing on the process, focusing on your performance at the time. Does that carry after the race? Do you spend a lot of time saying, Man I didn’t do well in that race? Or did really well in this race? Or is it just okay, that race is done now? Let’s get back to the the process of training and getting ready for the next race.

 

1:08:05

Yeah, for me, I just tried not to really dwell on it too much. You know, if it went well, then yeah, it’s, it’s awesome. And that’s good, good fuel for the for the fire, and I can carry you through the whole year. You know, one one result can really improve your confidence. But yeah, I think it’s for me, it’s just easier if I just start focusing on the on the next thing because yeah, say you had three bad races, if you’re only thinking or reviewing and reviewing the battery says, and then there’s just more in your head saying, Oh, that’s, that’s bad, or you have to you have to get so much better. How is it possible then, then you’re just yeah, stalling yourself. I

 

Trevor Connor  1:08:46

think what I love about this is, I mean, you watch movies, and whenever they show you somebody who’s very successful and a champion, they tend to like to show this image of somebody who always has to win. And if they don’t win, they’re kicking in the walls and, and at home dwelling about it, and that’s here you are somebody who’s progress, amazingly fast, gotten to the highest level, extraordinarily fast, and you are so process oriented, you really look at it as just there’s gonna be a whole lot of racists and we’re gonna go well, some are gonna go badly and I’m just going to focus on what I need to be doing next and what I need to be doing next and continuing to progress my level and it’s much more level headed and you don’t get caught up in any particular race.

 

1:09:28

Yeah, yeah, I definitely think the races are races and yeah, there’s there’s only so much you can do. For me the most stress I have is in in the training because that’s that’s what I can control the races you. You can only control so much. So if if I’m in a in a mental rut or something, it’s usually something that’s like, Oh, I don’t feel good in training or Oh, that’s not where I should be kind of thing. So that that for me personally, that’s harder to break out of. Because Yeah, like you said it It’s processes and in training, the process is all on you. But in the race, it’s multiple things. You can adapt better.

 

Trevor Connor  1:10:10

Would you say your perspective your approaches an outlier? Or you find that’s the way most of the guys on your team approach it?

 

1:10:18

Yeah, it’s hard to say cuz you don’t always see into the mental side of some guys. Yeah. And UCS like, especially when guys are so good. You know, you think oh, it’s all nothing. Nothing’s hard for them because?

 

Chris Case  1:10:33

Because they’re just machine.

 

1:10:36

Yeah, there’s just yeah, there’s definitely a lot of guys on my team that at least for like, from the outside, dude, think oh, that you know, like you said, that guy’s got to be super anal and just never happy or never. Yeah, never pleased with the last result always shooting for the next thing. But yeah, all those guys are pretty easy going because they know what what they can do and what they can’t do. And right,

 

Chris Case  1:11:02

you used to, in your short time on the domestic scene scene in North America have a chance of winning, you don’t really have that chance right now. So you’re a worker, you’re Domestique? It seems like for a guy like you, that’s perfect. You’re perfectly willing to do that work, play that role, have that purpose, do as much as you can, and be satisfied with sort of that work ethic at the end of the day. Yeah,

 

1:11:27

that’s true. But I think ultimately, you need to get the results because that’s what it’s all based on. In the end, it’s confirming whatever they see in you, whether that’s being the the lead out guy or being the last man in the mountains, or being the guy that that wins the race, like you, you need to get the result in the end. So I think, yeah, maybe it’s a it’s a different mental switch, like this year, for me just, you know, working and having a pretty, pretty low pressure environment, you know, just as long as I do the work that they tell me to do in the meeting, then it’s okay. But

 

Chris Case  1:12:03

yeah, you could you take us inside, when it’s like on on your team, before a race and how how it’s all sort of spelled out who’s who’s doing what,

 

1:12:14

yeah, the weeks before the race, we have a general plan and general expectations for for each rider. So with our schedules, too, we know like, Okay, I have this race in August, and it looks like I’ll be the helper for this race. So that’s, that’s pretty clear. And that everything’s very, very clear, which is nice. You know, there’s not much ambiguity about Yeah, which is, which is good, especially if you’re there to do do a job as you’d know exactly what’s expected of you. Um, so yeah, we have that general idea going into it. And then before each stage, we kind of just go over that again. And then yeah, say, All right, you guys are covering the moves in the beginning and and then maybe two guys will, you know, right on the front or, or be the first like workers to sacrifice themselves

 

Chris Case  1:13:06

and then and the race situation. It’s, it’s

 

1:13:09

really not too overly specific. Because they know that you know, you can plan because I’ve been in I’ve been in both I’ve been in meetings where, where it’s so specific that you think, okay, like, I guess that’s how we’re gonna do and I don’t know if it’s gonna work, but it’s, we’re gonna do it. And then yeah, I want to if it’s so specific like that it usually doesn’t ever pan out like that, and you can’t plan for situations. And if it’s, if everybody just knows, I think all you need to do is know what your role is. You can focus on your jacket, everyone, everyone’s smart enough to figure it out in the heat of the moment. And

 

Trevor Connor  1:13:45

we did a whole episode on that have roles not a plan because plans go out the window on the start line?

 

1:13:51

Yeah,

 

Trevor Connor  1:13:51

I think the only place you can if you have a stage we have like three category one climbs and finishes with an hc climb you can be pretty confident how that stage is going to play out. Yeah, yeah. beyond that. You just never know.

 

1:14:05

Yeah, I don’t think we’ve ever had a super formulaic

 

Chris Case  1:14:08

plan. Now that you’ve had your eyes opened to this world to this world tour. What are what do you think you’re capable of? We don’t have to put a number on it.

 

1:14:22

For me, I’m I’m more motivated for not like grand tours or anything necessarily. I mean, it’d be awesome DeRay some but I think like one day races like lombardia or something would be would be cool to perform it but I’m in terms of what I’m capable of. I I think it’s really fun to be like a really good support writer. I think that’s that’s motivating for me. And I know some guys that’s not motivating. But for me, I it’s cool to be part of like a team team effort and winning winning contribution and I think that would be cool for me to do. But yeah for for individual goals. I think just yeah, that’s cool one day races lombardia started Bianca, you’d be cool. The races that are fun to watch, I think are the races that I would like to do well, and but yeah, it’s hard to say exactly where how far I can go or because because there’s people that have a vision of what you’re going to become and then there’s you and I’m the only one that can you know, do Yeah, but yeah, you can’t worry about what other people are like all climber he’s he’s good at long climbs all he’s good at short climb, you know, it’s, it’s all on you to do it. Okay, so

 

Chris Case  1:15:37

we got you on the clock for one minute your, your takeaway for the listeners out there, your your tips, top three, top five tips on how to step up to that next level.

 

1:15:49

First of all, would be just setting realistic process oriented expectations, if you want to call them that expectations for yourself. If you don’t shoot too high or too low, you’re going to be pleased with with how you do so long as you you do everything in your in your power to to get the 100% or Yeah, leave it all out there, whatever, whatever that means. And the second would be Yeah, just keeping keeping perspective. And there’s there’s always another day, always another race. Try not to dwell on things. I mean, analyze what went wrong, what went well, but don’t, don’t dwell too long. And always look forward and positively to whatever is coming next.

 

Trevor Connor  1:16:36

I’ll add one really quick addition to to your second tip there, which is I like to tell my athletes whenever they’re going to erase that they’re getting a little stressed about write down what your next race is. Just to have that remind yourself that this is not the end of the world. No matter how this goes. There’s a race after this

 

Chris Case  1:16:56

helps to keep the perspective. I think another one is patience. Step doesn’t need patience, because he went from not knowing how to race a crit in Denver, men three years ago to racing the tour of the Basque Country so he didn’t really need that much patience, but sometimes it just takes a lot it takes longer than maybe you want it to. to click having patience is a great asset.

 

Trevor Connor  1:17:22

I went from not knowing how to race a kryton number two to in 15 years doing a podcast.

 

1:17:30

progression. Patience is all

 

Chris Case  1:17:34

that was another episode of Fast Talk. As always, we’d love your feedback. Email us at Fast Talk@velonews.com Subscribe to Fast Talk on iTunes, Stitcher, SoundCloud and Google Play. Be sure to leave us a rating and a comment. Become a fan of Fast Talk on facebook@facebook.com slash velonews and on twitter@twitter.com slash velonews. Fast talk is a joint production between velonews and Connor coaching. The thoughts and opinions expressed on FASTA are those of the individual for Sep goose Joe Dombrowski. Trevor Connor I’m Chris case. Thanks for listening

Related Episodes