The Countdown to Olympic Selections
The countdown is on to Olympic selections.
With just a few weeks to go, we’ve caught up with Clancy Briggs co-founder, Ed Clancy OBE, to find out how he’s passing the time and what everyday life looks like in the run up to the big day.
Ed, how is training going?
I’ve been doing this for 20 years full time, Team Pursuit. But it’s still really, really hard to do!
To come from a standing start and hit a lap within a half a tenth, not half a tenth too fast or too slow. You have to do it on feel alone, no speedometer, no power cranks, just on trial and error and feel. Your perception of effort changes day to day depending on how fresh you are, how well you’ve slept and so on.
And then this month we’ve got new kit - wheels and tyres – and all of that needs calibrating and everything goes out of the window. It’s not like everything goes up in a linear fashion, you’re not all of a sudden going much faster for the same perceived effort.
Team Pursuit really is technical, it’s a great sport, there’s so much more to it than four guys taking their brains out and going flat out from start to finish. When you’re right up to the limit, you’ve still got to have enough bandwidth to think about your pace judgement, your line on the track, your changes. If you’re doing a stint on the front you’ve got to maintain speed exactly, because if the guys on the wheels behind you are speeding up and slowing down, they’ll be gassed before they even get to the front. It’s like a house of cards, everyone has a job to do, but if you take away one piece the whole lot will come crashing down.
How many are in the team currently?
There’s seven of us in the team right now, they’ll cut 2 and only 5 will get their Olympic bike and go to the Olympics. Over the last few years, as you’d expect, there have been dozens of riders already cut.
If I go this year, it will be my fourth Olympics and there’s no-one else currently in the team who has been to the Olympics before. But like all professional sports it’s ruthless! They’ll pick the riders who will have the best chance of bringing back a medal.
Do you get any free time at the moment, or is it all about the training?
Because of COVID, I’ve been able to see my girlfriend, Laura, much more over the last 12 months. I tend to see her 2 to 3 days per week maximum. Having said that the month of April is more important than any World Championship over the last 4 years because it’s the last thing you do before selection week. So, I’ve been keeping myself to myself and I purposely don’t stay at Laura’s much, I stay at home because my bikes are here and so is Borris my cat!
In this training period, unfortunately, the mundane stuff that people normally do in their spare time can’t happen. Even if it’s something that doesn’t seem exerting, it can still affect how you feel the next day. So there’s no long walks or shopping trips allowed!
For someone like me, sleep is gospel. You have to be in bed by a certain point, you have to get a certain amount of sleep or you pay for it. The human body is a funny thing, sometimes it’s up and down and there’s no accounting for it, but there’s only so much cortisol from stress that your body can take. Stress can be from sleep deprivation, being too cold, being too hot, being hungry, being in pain on your bike. The only way you can cycle at 99.9% (100% isn’t possible!) is by reducing all that stress in your life.
I just want to do the cycling really well, and everything else gets ignored. I often don’t even have the bandwidth to answer mail or reply to emails!
What about food, what sort of routine do you have when it comes to your Olympic diet?
Being a track cyclist, it’s a short punchy thing. So for us, we’re carb burning machines. We don’t need to burn fat like the road riders. But by nature of our endurance training, we still do 15 hours a week on the road bike even when we’re training on the track. We have a nutritionist who takes body measurements every month but it’s not rocket science, you eat healthy and get plenty of carbs when on the road or the track.
I do eat a lot though - even on rest days I constantly eat – and we hammer through food on the training camps because we do such big road volumes and intensity.