The long hard grind of the 22.9km Col de Kosciuszko is a vastly different sort of climb to the 2.9km Col de Beloka.
The quickest time on the Beloka, at last year’s L’Etape, was 11:48 for the men, at an average speed of 15.8kph, and 13:57 for the women averaging 13.3kph.
To master this climb we’re going to work on boosting your lactate threshold so you can maintain a higher intensity without blowing up, and building your aerobic engine so you can keep your cadence relatively high to avoid frying your muscle.
Assuming you’ve laid a solid foundation with some good base training, here are some interval sessions to get you ready for a Beloka of an effort.
These are three different efforts to do in one session. You’ll need a steady hill that will take you approximately 10 minutes to climb.
Spin those legs
With a climb the length of the Beloka you can’t simply muscle your way over it with brute strength, you need to rely on your aerobic system and use some finesse.
The first time up the climb ride it, in the seat, just below threshold with a cadence of 90 plus rpm.
As a guide just below your threshold is a tempo that doesn’t quite let you hold a conversation but doesn’t have you on your hands and knees.
Once at the top turn around, rolled safely back down the hill and get ready for the next one.
Bring the power
The varying gradient of a climb or changes in tempo, of riders you’re trying to stay with, often put us into the red zone and out the back door.
This interval helps to develop more power so you can handle changes in gradient and speed.
Start at an intensity that is just under your threshold and hold it for 3 minutes.
Then up the pace, so you’re right at threshold and hold for 2 minutes. Now it’s hurt time. Push yourself just above threshold and hold for 1 minute.
Roll back down the hill with at least 5 minutes of recovery because there’s one more to come.
Full gas, it’s time to attack
There are pinches on the Beloka where you’ll need to up the power and also for the final kick to the top to get the better of you training partners.
These max-effort drills accomplish will help.
Go for 1 minute close to your threshold. Then hit the pedals like you’re launching an attack for 20 seconds, now settle back down and recover for 20 seconds. Here’s the hard part, you need to repeat the attack/recover, 20 seconds on – 20 seconds off, four times.
It’s going to hurt. Enjoy.
Being one of the most recognisable voices of cycling, Matthew Keenan regularly forms part of the international commentary team at the Tour de France and Vuelta a Espana, broadcast around the world from Europe, USA, Africa, New Zealand and on SBS in Australia.
Matt is one of the two official voices of L’Etape Australia by Le Tour de France.