Saturday, December 29, 2007
Written by: Dan Empfield
Scott Tinley is one of the "Big Four", along with Scott Molina, Dave Scott and Mark Allen. Tinley won the Hawaiian Ironman in 1982, and again in 1985. He was second place three times, and third place twice. His wins at other Ironman events are legion.
That was then. His most recent decade has been a physical trial, culminating in hip replacement surgery earlier this month. But the decade has been good for his fertile, impatient brain.
Click on title link to read on......
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
It's the time of year when many people dip into their pocketbooks and give not to friends and family, but to the charities they believe in, and cyclists are no different. Ivan Basso donned the white and black jersey of Inervita not just for the December 8 at the Pedalata Con I Campioni charity ride, but will make good use of his time spent under suspension by wearing the jersey of the worldwide orphaned children's fund at charity events throughout 2008.
Basso, who has been involved with the organization since 2004, will partner with the charity to raise awareness and funds after several years of donating a percentage of his earnings to he and his wife Micaela's chosen fund. "Intervita knew about this idea and they asked me if I would unite with them for 2008 and give a contribution, not only economically like I usually did, but also with my image and I said yes," Basso told Cyclingnews. He has volunteered to wear the self designed and unique Intervita jersey at all of the major fund raisers he will attend in the 2008 calendar year.
The first event took place on December 8th at the Pedalata Con I Campioni, where the public was invited on a charity group ride with the professional cyclists including Basso, on a forty-five kilometer circuit that started and finished in the small town of Brinzio, located on the outskirts of Varese.
Basso will not only be attending events in Europe, but will spend five days in Dubai, Arabia, the country chosen to receive the funds that Intervita has raised. "I will go to visit the third world country to visit where the money goes," said Basso. "We decide which country is the most necessary to send the funds to."
It is not unusual for riders to attend charity events in their off season but there is usually a fee attached to the invitation, but Basso clarified that he will not ask for an appearance fee, instead he asks for a portion of funds raised due to his attendance go toward Intervita, in the form of adopting a child.
"There are a lot of organizations in the world but I think it is important that if you can help some or at least one organization, that is good."
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
It seemed not so long ago that Ivan Basso was firmly placed in the fast lane to cycling stardom, but the window of opportunity to bask in the glory of his Giro d'Italia success was cut short when rumours of Basso's involvement in Operación Puerto became a grim reality. After serving more than half of his two-year suspension, the Italian sat down for an interview with Cyclingnews' Kirsten Robbins.
The 31 year-old from Cassano Magnago, Varese is now less than one year away from a potential return to competition, being eligible to race from October 24, 2008. And according to Basso it will be ten months of time well spent, preparing for whatever professional contract might come his way in 2009. With no races on his plate, the husband of Micaela and father of five year-old Domitilla and two year-old Santiago has been able to spend more time with his family while still attending several weekly cycling functions and charity events as the new face for Intervita, a humanity organisation dedicated to helping orphaned children around the world.
Above all, though, he continues to allocate five hours every day to rigorous training, testing and retesting his wattage numbers against previous data collected. However, the biggest training problem he faces is not the additional two kilograms gained compared to last year, but not having the Grand Tour riders to race against, to push him to his limits. Thus he climbs alone over the twisting Varesine mountains; Cuvignone and Campo dei Fiori, and it has become an increasing mental game with his SRM power meter.
"I'm not riding my bike to be healthy or fit, I like to feel like a rider; I like to make a good test on the climbs and in the time trials," said Basso, enthusiastic to talk about his epic training rides through the mountains. "Training for me is not to go out on the bike and ride two, three or four hours and then everything is OK. There is a schedule that I continue to respect and since I'm more flexible compared to when I used to be preparing for a Grand Tour, I can still be very severe when I'm training because I think that I need to face my bike seriously."
Basso admitted that he has few plans for the coming year because feelings of tension rise as his eligibility to race draws near. He is concentrating his attention on finding a new team, the pressures of racing and the almost certain criticisms surrounding his reinstatement. "The biggest influence is going to be for which team I'm going to ride for," he said. "Because it's one kind of work if I'm going to a brand new team and it's another kind of work if I'm going to an already existing team."
And despite the glint in his eye at the prospect of restarting his racing career, he has made it clear that with the loss of two years of racing, he holds no delusions of grandeur for his first year back to the peloton. "2009 is too far away to think about because right now I'm living day by day," acknowledged Basso. "I think I need to start with my feet on the ground and with a lot of humility - I can't think too big. Too many bad times have just passed me so it's better that I have a calm start without too many ambitions. The ambition inside me is at its maximum, but that's different than the realistic ambition and that's what's real."
A typically difficult training day for Basso might include a two-hour session in the gym followed by a 150-kilometre ride over two mountains. But even though he is still a Grand Tour hopeful, no matter how many kilometres he roles over between now and 2009, he will still have to start with the first of many small steps. "For me when I come back to racing again I can't think that the Ivan Basso of 2006 has come back," he said. "At an athletic level, yes, but so many things have changed so I need to arrive by taking steps to that level again. You have to take steps, I can't be presumptuous; it's not my style. But inside I believe in myself 100 percent."
Basso was on to what seemed like a natural path toward being the next Italian to win both the Giro d'Italia and the Tour de France. In 2004, under the Fassa Bortolo banner, he proved to be a young leader winning the white U23 jersey in the Tour after crashing out of it the previous season. He quickly landed a contract with CSC, carefully observing his rival Lance Armstrong's leadership skills during the 2004 Tour and going on to a stage victory and podium finish.
In his earlier years he did not participate in the Giro d'Italia because the event was not the main focus of Fassa Bortolo or CSC - teams that needed to hire contenders in the Tour de France. He lost the pink jersey in the 2005 Giro due to illness, and turned his attention toward being prepared for the 2006 event. "I wanted with all my strength to race the Giro because to win the pink jersey for an Italian is a particularly special feeling and after two Tour podiums in 2005, a victory in the Giro was a natural passage for me in my career," said Basso.
"I always rode the Tour de France behind Lance and so I never had the weight of being a race leader on my own shoulders. I learned a lot from that experience to be able to do the Giro with those same capabilities in order to manage the pressure of racing as the leader. After learning all I did behind Lance in the Tour, finally winning the Giro was a big experience for me and it showed that I was able handle the pressure of being a Grand Tour leader - and that I was ready to win a race like the Tour de France next."
Just one month after his 2006 Giro d'Italia victory - now somewhat shrouded in controversy after his convoluted, but still vague admission to links with the blood doping network of Dr Eufamiano Fuentes - Basso's vision of winning the Tour de France was cut short and his life took a drastic change from being one of the most revered professional riders to the start of a two-year suspension.
"Yes, my life changed but the problem was that the happiness did not last long because shortly after my win, the infamous story that everyone knows started to happen," said a now straight-faced Basso. "So the window of time to be happy about winning the Giro didn't last very long and unfortunately all these big problems really influenced the whole period of my professional and personal life."
Some of Basso's supporters have continued to stand by him through the dark moments of 2006 and 2007, but they were few in comparison to the people who abandoned him. "Now everyone knows what has happened and what my bad story is and I reach a point where I felt a really bad feeling inside," he said.
"At one point I realized that I was alone with myself and something was very wrong. I started to understand that it wasn't important how many people abandon me because those people who abandon are the same people who return when they need something. My first problem was that I abandoned myself and so I had to draw a stopping point. From that point I had to restart my life because I believe that as a successful man with a family and two children I needed to have the capacity to find the right way. There is nothing that I have done that is irreparable. So I said to myself, 'starting tomorrow I'm changing.'"
"I believe that when you are sick with yourself or feeling sad for yourself you have to strain to smile," continued Basso, referring to his five year-old daughter, Domitilla, who could see her father was preoccupied with the turmoil of his confession.
"I understand that my wife is an adult and knows me and my feelings but I was surprised that my daughter who is only five years old could see that I was sad, even though I was trying to be normal around her. That's another reason that I understood that something was not right with me because even though I was trying my best to pretend to be happy, she could see that I was not. I couldn't allow my daughter to be worried about my problems."
Monday, December 24, 2007
Not one to shy away from a challenge, World Champion Chris McCormack will take the fight to Frankfurt and then the following weekend Challenge Roth.
After a much publicized spat with Normann Stadler in 2006 we had to wait a full year for the rematch at Kona this year. The battle ended prematurely with Macca cycling into the distance on the Queen K.
Not satisfied with this Chris will now go to Normann's “home race” on July 6 to back up his fighting talk of “I will race you anywhere at any time”.
After making his decision to attend the European championships Macca had to wait for Normann to commit to the event, which he has now done.
“I hope Norman is in top form at the start of his home race and ready for a hard battle”.
This has been a tough decision for Chris as he will compete in his beloved Roth just one week after. Roth race director Felix Walchshofer had little to say on Macca`s plan to compete in Frankfurt but said “It will be interesting to see how a top athlete handles two long distance races within a week, this creates its own tension that we haven’t had before”.
Friday, December 21, 2007
No single triathlete had a bigger year than Aussie Greg Bennett. Before the season got underway, Bennett set his sights on just five races. While most of his cohorts spent the year bolstering their ITU resume with hopes of making it to Beijing, Bennett spent 2008 racing some of the world’s best athletes in the Lifetime Fitness Series.
Bennett was dominant in all five events, his only close call coming at the Los Angeles Triathlon, where he had to run down his friend and countryman Craig Walton in the final mile. That set the stage for the inaugural Toyota U.S. Open Championship, in Dallas, where a win would give Bennett an unprecedented $420,000 payday. The Aussie usually waits until the run to make his big move, but in Dallas he put the hammer down from the start en route to a 1:44:41 finish and the biggest win of his career.
Bennett’s total earnings in the five Lifetime Fitness races was over half a million dollars, not bad, considering his wife, Laura, also won $200,000 at the Hy-Vee World Cup.
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
After closing its first team meeting in Javea close to Alicante, Spain, Astana team manager Johan Bruyneel has drawn positive conclusions. "It was a first contact meeting and served to get to know us all better," the Belgian told Spanish media. "At first, it was a bit strange for everyone as people came in from two different squads, but then the newcomers adapted well. Everyone returned home feeling confident because they saw a solid structure within the team."
The former Discovery Channel directeur sportif also revealed that if it hadn't been for the team's leader Alberto Contador, Bruyneel may not have continued as manager for Astana. "I had taken the decision to quit, as all my goals on a sporting level had been reached," he said. "But now, the challenge is to get this team going. Without Alberto Contador, I wouldn't have continued. He's a great basis to construct a new team - he is young, and amongst the best. Signing him convinced me of continuing."
The man who directed Lance Armstrong on the roads to seven Tour de France victories - and Contador to one - was full of praise for the Spaniard, but also weighed in that Contador had yet to improve certain aspects of his cycling talent in order to become a great champion. "Alberto is one of the best, but there are other riders that hold the same promises, the Belgian explained. "He has to show that he can win the Tour once again, and he can count on our full confidence to do this. He has all the factors on his side. He has the physical and capacity of a champion, and he still has a margin for progress. But he needs to improve his time trialling skills and learn to dose his forces well on a three-week race."
Bruyneel even added that Contador had "some things that remind me of Armstrong. He will be the figure of the future." The Spaniard will prepare for the big goal in July along the same lines as this year, as his racing programme includes the Mallorca Challenge for starters, followed by the Vuelta a Valencia, Paris-Nice, Vuelta a Castilla-León, Vuelta al País Vasco/Circuit de la Sarthe, Flèche Wallonne, Liège-Bastogne-Liège and Dauphiné Libéré.
Mark Sisson's "Training and Racing Duathlons" ebook. For triathletes, duathletes, runners, cyclists and anyone else serious about fitness. Author Mark Sisson has not only competed at the elite level in distance running and triathlon, he has also coached some of the world's top endurance athletes. This industry standard book (75 pages) "Training and Racing Duathlons" helps you understand the basic concepts of how and why your body responds to training, so you can create the ideal training plan to achieve your fitness goals.
Click on the title link to get your free copy.
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Press Release: Xcel Sports Group
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - Professional Triathlete, Chris Lieto announced today that he has signed with a new manager, Paige Dunn of Xcel Sports Group. Dunn will serve as his agent, managing hissponsorship relationships, as well as his PR and marketing endeavors.
"I'm really excited to be working with a manager that has a strong background in marketing and PR. I am blessed to have a great group of sponsors supporting me and I want to be able to offer them new opportunities for exposure and that is what I plan on doing with Paige and Xcel. I'm also looking forward to securing new sponsors that reflect my personality and passion for the sport."
Dunn has an extensive background in marketing and with an added expertise in sport psychology, she truly understands how to effectively work with athletes. This unique combination of skill sets has allowed Dunn to develop great relationships with athletes and the brands that they interact with.
"I'm thrilled to be working with Chris. He is one of the hardest working athletes I know and he is committed to giving back to the sport of triathlon. In addition to working with his existing sponsors, we are looking forward to working with new sponsors and continuing to strengthen brands throughout the endurance sport marketplace. We have a lot of really exciting projects on tap and I'm looking forward to his 2008 season" said Dunn.
About Chris Lieto
Chris is a three-time Ironman Champion and former U.S. National Ironman Champion. Lieto most recently placed 6th at the 2007 Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii. To learn more about Chris please visit www.chrislieto.com
About Xcel Sports Group
Xcel Sports Group represents athletes and brands in the endurance sports industry. Beyond traditional athlete representation, Xcel Sports offers its clients and their sponsors brand development and strategic marketing services.
For more information please contact: Paige Dunn, Xcel Sports Group (415) 730-2053, firstname.lastname@example.org
Monday, December 17, 2007
Ivan Basso, who was banned until 24 October, 2008 for his involvement in Operación Puerto, continues to ride and maintain some of the form that saw him win the 2006 Giro d'Italia. He has formed an alliance with Intervita, a non-governmental organisation formed to benefit disadvantaged children in the southern hemisphere, and will wear its colours when he partakes in various charity rides.
The 30 year-old took part in the Pedala con i Campioni last week in his home zone of Varese. Basso has directed his efforts towards a baby girl in India, where Intervita has been present since 1999 in the region of Maharashtra.
"I will be happy to help the association in its work," said Basso. "It is a solid gesture of helping the unfortunate to construct a better future for themselves and their communities." He will continue to take part in charity rides with the Granfondo del Deserto, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, January 29 to February 5.
"I have returned to ride in the group," said the ex-Discovery Channel rider on his website, ivanbasso.it. "I have never stopped training. ... Everyday I effectively ride three to four hours. ... I also am in the gym, to complete my winter preparations."
By: Alastair Hamilton
On a cold morning in the town of Javea on the East coast of Spain a bunch of cyclists look at their new bikes for the coming year. This group is a mix of Astana and Discovery Channel riders that next season will become the new Astana team and the man at the helm, Johan Bruyneel has the job of welding these two distinctly different elements into one super team and with Tour winner Alberto Contador leading the charge it should be another successful season for the man that was behind the Lance Machine...........click on title link to read on.
Friday, December 14, 2007
LSD Base Miles are King (or Queen!)
2008 is just around the corner and I hope that you’ve all planned out your ‘08 cycling season with some achievable short and long term goals. Here are a few recommendations to help keep your Winter training season on track:
Use a Heart Rate monitor and your training zones to monitor your riding intensity.
Riding at lower intensities in the Winter (below your Anaerobic Threshold - AT) for longer periods (1-4 hours) is the key to a high performance season. This is called Long, Slow Distance (or LSD) training.
During Quad # 1 resist the urge to put your HR into the red zone (over AT) for extended periods of time. Many spin and indoor cycling classes put you through the grinder every workout without thinking of an overall season plan.
Take an easier “Rest Week” once every month or work it into a busy/travel period in your schedule.
Periodize Your Season:
Divide the 12 month year in 4 Quadrants depending on when you want your best performance. As an example for a typical July/August peak:
Quad # 1: December, January, February – gradually increase LSD base miles at lower intensities (Base)
Quad # 2: March, April, May – increase intensity & training volume, training races, enforce rest weeks (Build)
Quad # 3: June, July, August – lower training volume, specific event training, taper for event(s) (Build, Peak & Race)
Quad # 4: September, October, November – last events, de-tune end of season with cross training (Transition & Preparation)
Divide each Quadrant Period in 4, week-long segments.
Try to gradually increase training volume/intensity over 3 weeks.
Take 1 week with active rest (low intensity/volume) - Rest Weeks are VERY important.
Depending on how you feel (i.e. 3 weeks of constant training is too hard), you may need to move to a 3 week total Period instead of 4 weeks.
Remember to listen to your body, hydrate with lots of water throughout the day, eat smart and get enough sleep. It all adds up to healthy living!
Have a great Winter season!
For more information on Alex click on the title link, or go to http://www.stiedacycling.com/index.html
Thursday, December 13, 2007
While the International Cycling Union is preparing to appeal the one-year suspension given to Alexandre Vinokourov by the Kazakh cycling federation for blood doping during the last Tour de France, the former Astana rider has turned a page in his career. Back in his home country, 'Vino' is planning new professional projects such as the construction of a sports hotel in Southern France and a restaurant in Nice.
"I didn't imagine to end my career this way," the 2003 Tour de France podium finisher told L'Equipe on Wednesday, December 12, after announcing last week that he would not consider a return to racing next year even if his reduced ban would make this possible. "I've earned a good living and it is time to move on to something else, also because they don't want me in cycling anymore."
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
What is lactate threshold? What sort of lactate threshold workout do you recommend for a beginning runner?
Lactate Threshold (LT) is a term that describes a level of exercise intensity at which lactic acid accumulates in the bloodstream faster than it can be removed, or metabolized. Training just below this "threshold" allows the body to adapt and adjust to anaerobic effort. While aerobic activity generally involves lower intensity heart rate efforts performed over a prolonged period of time, an anaerobic effort involves the ability to perform increasing heart rate workloads with less oxygen - while running faster. Lactate threshold training teaches the body to tolerate moderate levels of lactic acid in the blood, through training at a pace that is significantly faster than aerobic conditioning - where very little lactic acid is produced, and much more oxygen is available.(Blame those heavy legs, and your inability to maintain the "stress" of faster paced running on several physiological factors - one of which includes exceeding your LT). The ability to tolerate these negative byproducts in the bloodstream can often be the deciding factor between running faster towards the finish line - or simply surviving a race.
An individual's lactate threshold can improve with training, and runners with higher lactate threshold levels are capable of working for longer periods of time at higher levels of energy expenditure - allowing them to run faster than athletes of equal aerobic strength - but who possess a lower LT.
The optimal method of finding your lactate threshold is best done by an exercise physiologist drawing and analyzing blood, during a maximal test on the treadmill. Most athletes' LT training pace is approximately 25-35 seconds per mile slower than their 5K pace, and generally corresponds to 80-90% of Maximal Heart Rate (*MHR).
One of the best ways to train your lactate threshold is to institute tempo running into your training regimen once or twice weekly. The term "tempo run" was popularized many years ago by legendary coach, exercise physiologist, and Olympian, Dr. Jack Daniels. It describes a workout that is conducted at a pace "held" just below threshold. Tempo runs can be an extremely important aspect of your training regimen, when performed properly, and at the right time in your training.
I would advise a beginning runner start with a 35-40 minute tempo run that would include a 10 minute warm-up at 60-75%MHR - followed by 15-20 minutes of tempo running at 80-85%MHR - and which concludes with a 10 minute cool-down jog at 60-65%MHR. Experienced distance runners should consider a 55- 60 minute tempo run which would include a 15 minute warm-up - 20-25 minute Tempo Run at 85-90%MHR - and a 20 minute cool-down. Running within heart rate zones is critical to lactate threshold training - as you are hoping to elicit a specific physiological response. Make it a point to determine your heart rate zones using the Karvonnen formula which factors in both your age, and resting heart rate. Use a heart rate monitor during your tempo run, to help eliminate any extra "guesswork". While an LT workout will feel challenging - or comfortably hard - it should not feel like race effort. Remember, you are working at the borderline of threshold, not running over the edge of the abyss.
By: Dave Aldersebaes
It's just not possible to get enough Chris Horner, so that's why we've got two parts. In Part Two of our PEZ-clusive interview with Chris Horner, Horner looks at 'cross, the state of cycling, and just exactly where the buck stops on doping. As with anything Chris Horner, it's a good'n - READ ON!
Friday, December 7, 2007
By: Dr Chris Fenn
You won't get very far without enough iron in your body. But why do you need it, and just how much do you need?
Iron is the most abundant metal on the planet but the amount in our bodies is small - equivalent to that found in a large nail. Iron is bound up with protein molecules. If this is globin, the complex is haemoglobin, which is then packaged into red blood cells. Its function is to shuttle oxygen from your lungs to your cycling muscles and take the waste carbon dioxide back to your lungs on the return trip.
The ability of haemoglobin to pick up and release gasses depends on the iron content. If you don't have enough, your oxygen-carrying capacity and thus your exercise performance is affected. You feel tired, lethargic and suffer more headaches than usual.
Other protein/iron complexes are enzymes such as peroxidase and the cyctochrome enzymes. These are a vital part of the energy production systems, deep within your muscle fibres. Once again, a lack of iron will have a direct affect on your energy levels.
Replenish your stock
To avoid being deficient in iron, you simply need to replace the amount you lose each day. This is a mere 1mg in men, which is mostly via the normal exfoliation of skin cells and sweat. In women, the loss of menstrual blood represents an extra loss of about 0.5mg per day.
These normal losses of 1-2mg per day are small in comparison with an average diet, which supplies 10- 15mg per day, and yet iron deficiency is common among people who exercise regularly. Early signs are a pale skin (that's before you get on your bike and start working hard!); a lack of colour and pinkness indicates that there's not enough healthy, iron-rich blood. Look inside your eyelids; they should be a bright red colour.
Other deficiency symptoms include a sore tongue or cracks at the side of your mouth. Vertical ridges along your fingernails can also be as a result of iron deficiency.
Routine blood tests will measure haemoglobin and haematocrit levels, but these are only reduced in the final and more severe stages of iron deficiency. You can be mildly iron deficient, even if these show as normal.
If you do suspect a deficiency, ask your doctor to test for serum ferritin or total iron binding capacity, which are more sensitive indicators of a deficiency.
There are plenty of foods that contain iron, but the actual amount that gets into your body can be very small. This is because the form of iron (Fe) that we need is 'ionic' which means it carries a 2+ or 3+ charge.
Within haemoglobin, the iron can flip backwards and forwards between the two positive states - this is how it can pick up and release oxygen molecules. However, during digestion, it also means that the iron ions like to stick to other molecules, such as the wholemeal bread you have eaten. The fibre it contains carries a negative charge and attracts the positively charged iron ions (with the more positively charged Fe3+ state binding even more tightly compared with Fe2+). Within the gut, the iron clings to the bran in the bread and is then passed out in faeces.
The iron in animal foods is in a different form. It isn't positively charged and is held within a protective protein coat. The entire iron-protein complex is absorbed intact, which is why the iron from meat, eggs and fish is more readily absorbed compared to that from wholemeal bread or bran flakes.
However, if you don't eat meat, the good news is that vitamin C is a powerful promoter of iron absorption. It helps convert any Fe3+ in the body to Fe2+. This form carries a less positive charge and is absorbed up to four times more easily compared to the Fe3+ form. So stock up on eating foods rich in vitamin C - oranges, kiwi fruits, broccoli, kale, tomatoes, peppers and new potatoes (which also contain some iron), or drink orange juice with your iron-enriched breakfast cereal.
However, the positive effects on iron absorption will be reduced if you also drink well-brewed black tea. The tannins strongly bind any iron present, making it less available for absorption.
Iron supplements are not always the answer. Avoid those containing iron sulphate, which is difficult to absorb. Read the label and choose iron fumarate, citrate or amino-acid chelated iron. However, it's better to obtain minerals in their natural form.
If you feel you need an iron supplement, take the pills for a couple of months and monitor how you feel. Excess iron is not easily excreted and it is possible to get too much of a good thing.
“Overachiever’s Diary” Provides Swim Training Insights Based on World Contender U.S. Army Triathlon Team Regimen
Upper Nyack, New York—Triathletes are the fastest growing competitive adult athlete group in the world. Now, a new book aims to help beginner and seasoned triathletes tackle one of the most challenging portions of a triathlon – the swim.
Overachiever’s Diary: How the Army Triathlon Team Became World Contenders, celebrates the competitive drive of all triathletes by chronicling the rigorous swim training methods of some of the greatest overachievers in the world – the West Point cadets of the Army triathlon team. Based on the team’s training regimen, Overachiever’s Diary also provides critical information, more than 100 photos, and insights that will help any swimmer improve performance and increase confidence in the water.
“It’s not about mindless sets, or swim ‘toys’ like kickboards,” author and Army triathlon swim coach Louis Tharp said. “Overachiever’s Diary is about testing psychological and physical limits in the practice environment so you can improve your performance and achieve victory in competition.”
Overachiever’s Diary brings to life the story of the internationally recognized Army Triathlon team through the informative, inspiring and often humorous emails of coach Louis Tharp, a competitive swimmer, World Masters and Gay Games medalist.
Under the direction of Coach Tharp and other coaches – and thanks to the determination of the cadets – the Army triathlon team, in 2007, took home an individual gold in Age Group Nationals, placed fifth overall in Collegiate Nationals, and earned an individual bronze medal in the International Triathlon Union World Competition in Hamburg, Germany.
The book also includes a math section designed to help swimmers measure speed and efficiency, as well as several essays that examine the importance of factors such as confidence, attitude and motivation, by contributor and motivational speaker Laurie Ferguson, Ph.D.
Overachiever’s Diary is published by Total Immersion, the world’s largest swim instruction organization and publisher of swimming books. Total Immersion founder and Coach Tharp’s mentor, Terry Laughlin, provided the introduction to the book.
“When Lou began working with the Army triathlon team, he copied me on daily coaching emails he sent to the team. I had never seen anything like them before,” Terry Laughlin said. “Taken as a whole, they really provide a seminar on how to train effectively when swimming. As a result, I believe this book will be uniquely enlightening to improvement-minded swimmers, especially those who are self-coached.”
Lou Tharp’s personal story is as interesting as the book itself. A successful businessman and social entrepreneur, at age 45 Lou began transforming himself from an overweight, beginner swimmer to a World Master’s bronze medalist and eventually, swim coach of the U.S. Army triathlon team at West Point. Lou also took home two gold and two silver medals at the 2006 Gay Games, and has established a successful, productive partnership with the Army triathlete team as the first out gay coach at West Point.
Overachiever’s Diary is now available for purchase at http://www.totalimmersion.net/overachievers-details.html, http://www.overachieversdiary.com/, and http://www.amazon.com/.
A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the U.S. Army triathlon team.
Media Contact: Liz Kelly
By: Dave Aldersebaes
Chris Horner seems like a kid on Christmas morning, with a new year looming, a new contract with a new team, it’s endless possibilities. Chris sat down with PEZ in Portland, Oregon, before contesting the final USGP Cyclocross races to get us, and you, up to speed on what’s going on in his world.
We grabbed a chair at his hotel on a brisk Friday evening in Portland and chatted about all things bike and a lot of things not, while outside the storms gathered to pound the area with rain and wind. Chris was in town for the USGP cross season, where he’s riding for Ed Krall Racing.
Wednesday, December 5, 2007
By: Chris McCormack
Well, I am packed up here in the USA and will be heading back to Australia for Christmas. I am really looking forward to it. I have been flat out here in the USA for the last few weeks. I have been on the road and getting everything planned and sorted for next season.
I just spent 1 week in Los Angeles shooting a new Television Commercial for Under Armour. It was a lot of fun and we spent a couple of days on set shooting with all the Under Armour athletes. We had a lot of fun and enjoyed ourselves. It never stops amazing me how incredible this company is. They are so motivated and great to work with, and all the athletes they have on board are a great crew of guys and girls. I am really honoured to be working with UA. They are really cool, innovative and modern.
Emma and the kids flew home last week and have been home for a little over 1 week now. This week I got a phone call from my mate Rob Oseland from the Wynn Casino in Las Vegas. Emma, the kids and I spent 1 week there with Rob, Irene, Danny and the crew a couple of weeks ago which was amazing. We were in Vegas doing the Silverman event and had an absolutely incredible time. Rob mentioned that he might be able to chase some tickets to the super fight in Las Vegas this weekend between Floyd Mayweather and Ricky Hatton. I am a huge fight fan, and said if he could snag some tickets to the sold out event, we would come for sure. Well, three days ago I got a call from Rob and he has tickets to the super fight. Not only tickets but some of the best tickets in the house and we get to go to all the weigh in functions, the press conference and after fight functions.
Emma jumped on a plane last night and will be meeting me in Los Angeles tomorrow and we will fly back out to Las Vegas for a 6 day holiday, culminating in a night at the fights. It will be lovely hanging out together in Vegas again and doing all the shows and relaxing before the fight, and Rob and the Team at the Wynn Casino really treat Emma and I so well. We absolutely love it. Tahlia and Sienna will be staying with nanny and poppy so this will be the first time Emma and I have had a few nights away together since Tahlia was born in 2004. We are really excited, and catching up with friends again in Vegas will be awesome.
From Vegas I will head to Germany and Emma will be going back to Sydney. I will be home on the 15th December and am really looking forward to it. I can’t wait to see my dad and my friends at home and getting back into some solid training in Sydney. I enjoy this time of year in Australia. I am only home for 1 month before flying back to South America for a race in Pucon and then up to USA to do a camp in Palm Springs and some training in Santa Barbara.
Anyway I apologise for my website being down over the past 3 weeks. We are setting up a new Company called MaccaNow that will be aimed at helping athletes with their training and racing requirements, camps and in particular a junior development program. Stay tuned to what we are doing because the demand has been huge and the interest from sponsors and outside investors to our vision has been remarkable.
I would like to thank all those people who have emailed and offered their help and support. It is greatly appreciated. The new site required us to drop my personal site down for a bit to add some behind the scenes work here that will link to our new site. Macca Now stands for – Macca - No Opportunity Wasted, which will be the foundation for the entire vision of the company. To seize every opportunity and make now matter. It will be sensational.
Anyway stay tuned as we will launch in April but we have a lot of logistics and information that we will post on my personal site over the next few months.
Stay safe everyone,
Please visit Chris' website at www.chrismccormack.com.
Tuesday, December 4, 2007
By Dr Chris Fenn
Know How - Label hype
We put a lot of faith and trust in food manufacturers to describe products to do what they say on the tin. But while food manufacturers can't lie, they do stretch the truth an unhelpfully long way and there are several terms you should be wary of because they promise a lot more than they deliver. There's plenty of legislation that regulates and controls how food can be described, but there are still loopholes which can be exploited.
For example, a label with pictures of grapes, oranges and bananas implies that the product is packed with juicy fruit. In practice it can legally be made from water, sugar and artificial fruit flavours.
Beware of 'made with...'
'Made with real fruit' is a bold claim often found on puddings, yogurt and drinks. Unfortunately there's no law requiring labels to say, clearly at least, how much fruit is actually in the product. You'll need to scan the list of ingredients and often you'll see the 'real fruit' portion is a measly 5% of the total product. The rest is made up with sugar, preservatives and colours so that the expensive 'real fruit' only gets a passing glance.
'Made with whole grains' is a similar white lie and implies that you're buying a healthy whole grain breakfast cereal or bread. Again, there's no legal requirement to say how much whole grain there is in the product. If the main ingredient is white flour with some brown colouring (usually caramel) and a few whole grains thrown in at the end almost as an afterthought, you'd be eating a product containing a lot less fibre than you think.
'Pure' and 'wholesome' are words that we would want to be associated with the food we eat. However, there's no legal definition of these terms in food law. The words 'pure, wholesome goodness' can be used to describe a poor quality cereal bar or a packet of instant porridge.
It's only natural?
'Natural' is probably the most popular but least trustworthy of the label terms. The word natural conjures up all that we would want and expect from a food item. However much we would like it to be, however, 'natural' is not the same as 'nutritious' and this loaded term says nothing about the nutritional value of the product.
There's no legal definition of the word 'natural'. You may be reassured when you see the term 'natural flavours' in a list of ingredients. These should be described more correctly as 'nature identical' since they are synthesized in the lab rather than extracted from an original food source.
'Made from...' is a clever way of implying health-giving properties, but in practice is simply an indication of the starting material. The claim that some margarine or crisps are 'made from olive oil' or '100% sunflower oil' is technically correct, but totally misleading. A lot can happen to oil during frying or during the process of converting liquid olive oil to a solid margarine. It can be heated or hydrogenated and change a wonderful healthy oil into an artery clogging margarine full of trans fats.
Read the label
With all this confusing and misleading information on labels how do you choose? When selling anything, food manufacturers want to put their product in the best possible light.
Good quality foods will also use the same loaded terms on their labels, but the product inside will be more of the description on the outside. The trick is to scan the list of ingredients. By law, all wrapped, manufactured foods (with a few exceptions such as cheese and some breads) must include a list of ingredients in descending order of quantity.
If the list includes one or more of the following: maltodextrin, glucose-fructose syrup, aspartame, sodium benzoate or monosodium glutamate (MSG), this indicates a poor quality product. Information is power. Once you know what to look for, and avoid, you're more able to buy the product you want and not be deceived along the way.
By: Mark Sisson
Ultimately, optimal health is more about what you put in your body, not how much. But “how much” does matter to some extent, regardless of what you are eating. A grass-fed steak may be one of the most nutritious foods on earth (bring on that saturated fat), but it shouldn’t cause your grocery cart to list to one side.
I eat about 50% of my calories from fat these days, and I’ve never been healthier or leaner. Eating so much fat keeps me sated so I don’t crave huge portions or plates piled high with goodies. That’s a nice side effect of eating for my health first and foremost. If you’ve adopted the Primal Health philosophy of consuming plenty of natural fats, protein and produce, you’ve taken care of the “what” part of eating, and your body will benefit for years to come because you’re eating for your body’s blueprint.
However, if you are still carting around a spare tire or not-so-lovable handle the “how much” still matters. Back to that grass-fed steak. While it’s healthy, none of us needs more than a few juicy ounces of it at a time (jeez, I’m making myself hungry here). Eat as healthy as you want to eat, but to lose weight, the old rule is still true: you must cut calories. Of course, certain foods will optimize your metabolism. Carbohydrates are a recipe for metabolic and immune disaster. But at the end of the day, calories do count. Here are some easy ways to cut back if you’ve got a few clingers:
10. Cut meat portions in half.
I’m a huge proponent of plenty of protein – at a minimum, 100 grams daily. But often, meat portions are too big. This is especially true in restaurants, but Carrie and I have noticed the prevalence of gargantuan steaks and step-aside-turkey chicken breasts at the market these days, too. (Attack of the bionic meat?) 3-6 ounces is plenty. Focus on source, flavor, and quality, not quantity.
9. Cut out the (hefty) toppings.
I love loading up my daily salad with plenty of ingredients – usually at least a dozen. But I choose low-calorie vegetables, and a good source of protein, rather than fried, crunchy, caloric toppings. Top your salads with veggies, not cheeses and nuts, if you are trying to lose weight. Top ‘em even if you aren’t, in fact.
8. Eliminate starchy vegetables.
If you are lean and healthy, things like yams and carrots are fine. But they do tend to have more calories than greens and cruciferous vegetables, so mind those starchy squashes and tubers if you want to lose a few pounds.
7. Cut legume portions in half.
Peas and other legumes like chickpeas and kidney beans are rich in vitamins and fiber. They also contain good vegetarian protein and healthy fats. But they’re very caloric. If you want to lose weight, cut those lentil, pea, and bean portions in half.
6. Eat only one snack daily.
Snacks can often be as caloric as a meal, particularly things like cheese and nuts. A handful is fine; anything more is a meal. Pay attention to the small bites you take throughout the day because they do add up more than you think.
5. Replace a meal with a protein shake.
If you really want to drop some serious weight (more than those last 5 or 10), replace a meal with a quality, dense shake. Mine packs a generous serving of protein and fiber for minimal calories and virtually no sugar.
4. Replace fruits with vegetables.
Fruits contain sugar, which is fine in limited amounts. But fruits are simply higher in calories than vegetables, something many folks don’t know. Replace those fruit snacks with vegetable snacks for equal – or better – nutrition and fewer calories.
3. Use less oil in cooking.
Try using a tablespoon of oil on a lower heat setting instead of liberal pours. I personally don’t watch my fat portions much, but my metabolism is set at a high level through years of training and living the Primal lifestyle. As your body adjusts, you’ll be able to eat more calories.
2. Watch the nut portions.
Nuts are an amazing nutrient source – protein, fat, fiber, vitamins galore. But they are incredibly high in calories. A serving size is a handful, not a pack.
1. Drink only water.
To really lose weight, make sure you aren’t drinking your calories! (Unless those calories are replacing a bulk meal.) Limit alcohol and eliminate dairy and juices.
Monday, December 3, 2007
After a long, grueling season of training and racing, what triathlete wouldn't want to spend a weekend frolicking in the sand and surf of dazzling Laguna Phuket? Sure enough, throngs of multisport elite hightailed it to the Thai resort destination December 2 to take a much-deserved load off-after squeezing in one more swim-bike-run challenge. This year's edition of Laguna Phuket Triathlon featured newly crowned Ironman world champion Chrissie Wellington, 2007 Ironman 70.3 world champ Mirinda Carfrae, 2005 Ironman Hawaii winner Faris Al-Sultan and long-course studs Bryan Rhodes, Belinda Granger and Richie Cunningham. But it was Laguna Phuket veteran Massimo Cigana of Italy and resurgent Brit Liz Blatchford who outshone the rest on Sunday, taking the men's and women's titles in 2:31:46 and 2:42:24, respectively.
Kicking off from the beach separating the Dusit Laguna Resort and Laguna Phuket Resort, swimmers stroked 1.8km through the bath-like Andaman Sea and then, after a short beach sprint, through an accompanying lagoon. Italian Leonardo Ballerini led all men out of the water in 22:15, followed by Canada's Mathieu O'Halloran in 22:36 and Al-Sultan of Germany in 23:19. Cigana then put the pedal to the metal on the bike, completing the winding, hilly 55km tour in a day's-best 1:21:05. Aussie Cunningham wheeled in second in 1:24:38, just seven seconds of Rhodes. The Italian stallion kept up his lead on the run, crossing the line in first place with a sparkling overall time of 2:31:46, besting Cunningham's 2:33:29 by almost two minutes. The resilient former Ironman world champ, Al-Sultan, hung on for third place with a time of 2:34:30.
In the women's pro race, Blatchford, who's back in action after a nine-month recovery period following a spinal cord operation, finished the non-wetsuit swim over a minute up on next-closest female Valentina Filipetto of Italy in 23:38. Carfrae hit the beach third in 25:27. Granger then turned up the heat on the bike, busting out a speedy 1:28:39 on the snaking pedal through the jungle; Carfae hit T2 almost one minute later, followed by Blatchford in 1:30:57. On the two-lap 12km run, it was all Blatchford-the Brit used a 45:43 split to motor past the leader to finish first in 2:42:24 overall. Carfrae took second in 2:44:28, while Granger placed third in 2:46:47.
Laguna Phuket Triathlon
Laguna Phuket, Thailand
Sunday, December 2, 2007
1.8K S/55K B/12K R
1. Massimo Cigana (ITA) 2:31:46
2. Richie Cunningham (AUS) 2:33:29
3. Faris Al-Sultan (GER) 2:34:30
4. Bryan Rhodes (NZL) 2:35:25
5. Peter Schokman (AUS) 2:37:15
1. Liz Blatchford (GBR) 2:42:24
2. Mirinda Carfrae (AUS) 2:44:28
3. Belinda Granger (AUS) 2:46:37
4. Chrissie Wellington (GBR) 2:47:56
5. Alexandra Louison (FRA) 2:55:08
Sunday, December 2, 2007
The 91st edition of the Giro d'Italia will begin in Palermo and end in Milan after covering 3423.8km over 23 days, it was announced on Saturday.
The exact course for the 2008 Giro, which begins May 10, was presented at a ceremony in Milan's Arcimboldi Theatre.
It will begin with a team time trial and end with a 23.5km race against the clock. There will also be two other time trials throughout the race, including a 13.8km mountain time trial finishing atop the famous Plan de Corones.
The highest point the race will visit will be the 2618m Passo Gavia, part of a punishing penultimate stage that will also take in the climbs of Mortirolo and Aprica.
The race will visit two other countries during the 23 days, taking trips into San Marino and Switzerland.
Italian Olympic Committee president Gianni Petrucci said the course would be the ideal preparation for Italy's Olympic atheletes, who would then travel to Beijing in August for the summer Games.
"It will be an exciting Giro that will help (Italy's Olympic cycling coach) Franco Ballerini to prepare the squad for the Olympics in Beijing," Petrucci told Rai television, before turning his attentions to the fight against doping in the sport.
"How do we fight it? By continuing to do what we are already doing," he said. "We hope that after the Giro d'Italia the Italian squad, among the strongest in the world, will reaffirm its strength."
Italian cycling federation president Renato Di Rocco said he hoped it would be a clean race and gave his backing to the so-called biological passport, introduced this year to professional cycling in a bid to monitor cyclists to better detect changes that demonstrate doping.
He also dismissed suggestions that the doping scandals over the last two years will affect public interest in the Giro.
"The biological passport is a great opportunity to be more careful. We have already adopted it with 80 young cyclists," he said. "Such is the huge affection towards the Giro that it will (still) command a lot of attention."
Friday, November 30, 2007
Champion cyclist Lance Armstrong (center) has more powerful mitochondria, the "power packs of the cell," a Harvard professor says. Sirtris Pharmaceuticals drug molecules could help boost patients' mitochondria. Human testing begins next year.
Scientists at Sirtris Pharmaceuticals Inc. say they have created a drug that mimics the ingredient in red wine linked to longevity and the cell structures that power endurance athletes like cycling champion Lance Armstrong.
The new molecule is 1,000 times more potent than the wine derivative, resveratrol, and could lead to solutions for diseases of aging, including cancer and diabetes, according to authors of a study in today's issue of the journal Nature.
Researchers tested about 500,000 molecules for abilities to activate the immune-system booster SIRT1, the enzyme credited with resveratrol's ability to extend lifespans 30 to 70 percent in organisms from yeast and worms to flies and mice.
Human testing on the most promising ones will begin next year, said David Sinclair, an author of the study.
"These are real drugs. This is not something out of red wine anymore," said Sinclair, a professor of pathology at Harvard Medical School and cofounder of Cambridge-based Sirtris. The study is "proof of a principle that you can put something into the food supply that will ward off and treat the diseases of aging in a single pill."
Sirtris's stock rose 7.8 percent to $18.38 yesterday. The company, which went public in May, had seen its share price climb 71 percent through Tuesday.
Mice and rats given three of the molecules responded like those in other experiments testing extreme calorie-restricting diets, even though the rodents continued to eat and weigh the same. They showed increased insulin sensitivity, lower blood-sugar levels, and more powerful mitochondria, the "power packs of the cell" that diminish with age.
"That's where it gets interesting," Sinclair said.
If you give resveratrol to a normal mouse, it can run twice as far because it has many more mitochondria, he said. Seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong has extra mitochondria that power his endurance abilities, Sinclair said.
"The goal is not to make Lance Armstrongs of everyone, but you can imagine that it would boost the energy of someone who is frail and weak," Sinclair said.
Sirtris has about 140 patents and patent applications related to the so-called aging gene, and some of the most effective treatments for boosting SIRT1 were discovered after the Nature study was submitted for publication a year ago, Sinclair said. Results from animal studies of those drugs will be released next year, he said.
Sirtris was founded by Sinclair, chairman of its scientific board, and Christoph Westphal, the chief executive, to study activators of SIRT1 and its related class of enzymes. Other treatments for diseases of aging rely on complicated technology that may take years to develop, Westphal said.
The sirtuin gene was first reported by Leonard Guarente, a biology professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology whose lab also discovered the aging benefits of restricted diets in mice. Sinclair, his post-doctoral student at the time, moved to Harvard in 1999 to develop drugs that could act in the same way. He discovered resveratrol in 2003
Thursday, November 29, 2007
You just finished Ironman World Championship 70,3 in Clearwater with a fantastic bike split! How does it feel to have a raced 90 km in under 2 hours?
I was happy with going under 2h but I would have liked to follow it up with a better run of course.
After the Clearwater race, you wrote on Slowtwitch.com forum ” I went too hard on the bike today at Clearwater 70.3.”. Do you feel that you didn´t make a good race in Clearwater?
The race was a big goal for the year for me and I was in good shape coming in but I had to change my plans early in the bike ride from having good race overall to go for the bike preems once I noticed how hard it was to get away from the packs. It wasn't so much the pace itself during the bike but the sustained changes of pace needed to get away from everyone that killed my race. I jogged in to finish the race and came in quite far down in the field so in that respect it was a pretty bad race. It was a conscious decision I made though so I could at least make some money on the bike when the race turned out the way it did. I know I have no shot at the overall if I can't get a bigger gap before the run.
Your Norseman 2005 race, was probably through the worst weather condition in the Norseman history. Tell us abour your race.
Norseman was a great experience and one of the few races that stand out from the run of the mill ironman races around the world so I really enjoyed that. The race itself was very though and very cold that year which suits me so I had a really good race. One of the better ones I've had overall actually. The last section of 5km up to the race finish on the small trail with the strong wind and snow really put me in a lot of trouble though since my body temp started to drop. I was really happy there was a warm cafe at the top and that I didn't have to walk the whole way down again since I'm not sure I'd have made it then.
Some athletes claim that Norseman Xtreme Triathlon is among the thoughest race in the world. What is your opinion?
There are no easy iron distance races but of course Norseman is one of the most challenging ones. Tthat's also what makes it more interesting than some of the other races and even though I'm by no means a great climber I enjoyed the hilly terrain.
Were you reasonably reckognised for winning Norseman, or was it a waste of energy in terms of publicity?
Publicity is always good when you're trying to make a living off a sport but that’s not the reason I decided to do Norseman. I did it because I thought it was cool race and as a bonus, contrary to what I thought, I actually did end up getting some pretty good press from it. So it was worthwhile in many ways.
Since your Norseman race, you seem to have choosen to race mostly ½ Ironman distance races. Why is this?
I've had problems with Ironman races and haven't really completed a lot of good ones so I decided to do more halfs which I know suits me well. I needed to get some more consistent results so the fact that it's possible to race more of them and that I was better at them made it a natural choice. Ironman is cool but it takes a really long preparation and recovery phase so you only really have a few chances each year to get it right which can get pretty frustrating at times when things go wrong. It's more fun for me to be able to race big races more often.
You are known for your awesome bike skills! Can you tell us how you train this time of year? In the Off-season?
I have about two months in November and December when I don’t really do any kind of structured training. I feel like I need a good break to be able to keep training and racing the rest of the year without getting burned out. Anyway during this time I do some training in each three disciplines but only when I feel like it and usually stuff that I don’t do during the season like going out on my cyclocross bike on gravel roads.
Any good advise for bike training in Scandinavia and northern Europe in the winter time?
The best advice would be to travel someplace warmer.. Seriously though I prefer riding outdoors at all costs compared to being inside on the trainer during winter time. A cyclocross bike is perfectly suited for this and with some studded tires I personally think it’s more worthwhile to ride outside even though road conditions are bad with snow and ice.
What do you have coming up for the next season?
Having just finished this season I’m still not quite sure about my schedule next season. The only thing I know is that I’ll start off by going to New Zeeland in January to host a triathlon camp with Bryan Rhodes. See http://www.triathlonpowercamp.com/ for more details on that. My first race will probably be California 70.3.
We have noticed you will be racing a new bike next year. Tell us about your sponsors. Bike, Wheels, Sadle etc.
For next season I’m working with Qroo, Hed, R&A cycles, Fuel Belt, Giro, Oakley, Rotor, Fit multisports and possibly a few other ones that are not quite finalized yet.
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
He stood under the Arc de Triomphe—a cyclist’s gateway to celebrations—four months ago. But Alberto Contador still has to hustle to keep up with his social calendar.
Last Friday found him in Chiclana in Cadiz, a place that’s crazy about sports, especially cycling. Alberto visited Chiclana to attend the annual Sports Gala of the Vipren Foundation. The event is the creation of ex-cyclist Federico Bahamontes, the “Eagle of Toledo.”
Bahamontes, 79, can easily identify with Contador. A climbing specialist, he became Spain’s first Tour winner in 1959, going on to claim six KOMs. Contador, the fifth Spaniard to wear yellow, is following the Eagle’s career flight path. He may soar even higher.
Contador was the chief honoree among more than 40 athletes from different disciplines. One of many notables was former Olympic cyclist José Manuel Moreno (gold medal, Barcelona, 1992). The two men together in the same room brought to mind a question. Will Contador seek to follow Moreno’s example in Beijing?
For now, one thing is clear: He’s had enough champagne and caviar. “I’ve got to cut out the galas because it’s time to concentrate, and I’ve already begun to get ready for next season.”
Alberto commented about this and other matters to MARCA.
You haven’t gotten much vacation?
It’s true, I admit that mentally I’ve hardly had a chance to rest, but I’m already feeling the desire to get on the bike and start again.
Have you paid a price for your Tour victory?
It’s not so much that it’s been hard, it’s just different. I’ve had commitments in other years, too, but I never had to turn any of them down. This year, I haven’t had time for myself or my family. But I’ve tried to make the best of it.
When do you to plan to return to training?
I’ve started walking in the mountains a little (I’ve spent a few days hunting…or trying to). Next week I’ll starting going out on the mountain bike and some days I’ll also go to the gym. Soon, little by little, more and more bicycle and less of all the others, although there’s no hurry, because I can reach form very fast and I’m not interested in rushing things.
Have you already designed your training program with Johan Bruyneel for 2008?
No, not yet, but I don’t think there will be any big changes from this year because things have gone so well for me.
Will we see, therefore, a complete winner of the Tour de France fighting for the victory in Paris-Nice?
Yes, why not? I like to go to the important races at a good level and ride to win. The problem, in any case, will be after the Tour, because it’s an Olympic year and if I’m on the Olympic team, I won’t be able to ride in the Vuelta a España so soon after.
About the Olympic Games, it’s been said that you’re not a rider of one-day races.
But that’s a special race, one that only comes along every four years, plus I hear—I don’t know if it’s true—that it’s very difficult because it has a 12 km hill that’s climbed six times. If it’s true, it could work out very well for me, although it wouldn’t bother me to work for Oscar Freire and Alejandro Valverde if the circuit isn’t as demanding as I’ve been told.
Let’s talk about the Tour, your great objective. Are you already feeling pressure?
If so, only a little, although I’m really going to notice it when I go to races and find myself surrounded by the peloton. But I’m conscious that if I feel pressure it’s because I’ve won it, so I tell myself if I’ve won it once, I can win it again. To me, that’s motivating.
Do you have confidence in your possibilites?
Yes, I’ve always believed in myself, but now, after the successes of this year, I know that I can keep winning.
So, do you see yourself winning the Tour again?
I’ve got a lot to do. Before, I dreamed about winning, and now, after winning it once, I dream about going back and winning it again. Before long there’ll be many factors influencing me, but I do sincerely see myself with possibilities. And to do it, I’m counting on the best possible team at my disposal.
Astana is not Discovery.
Hincapie and Popovych are gone, but I’m still counting on Noval, Paulinho, and Vaitkus in the flat stages, Leipheimer and Brajkovic for the tough times. Horner has been a valuable addition, Rubiera has a great deal of experience, Dani Navarro is very young…He won’t need to be babied by the team or the director, because he knows how to handle the race as well as anybody else.
Who will your rivals be?
Evans, my teammate Leipheimer, Klöden…and some young guys like Andy Schleck, or maybe, if he finally catches fire, Thomas Dekker. Without forgetting Valverde, Sastre, Menchov…I don’t see just one especially dangerous rival, there are several.
And the Vuelta?
I’m not forgetting about it. But if I do the Olympics it will be difficult to ride the Vuelta, because when I go to the Vuelta, I want to do it in optimal condition, and I’ll have to wait a year or more for that. I have a huge desire to try to win it, but the conditions must be right. Neither this year nor next year.
Are you ready to say goodbye to the good life?
Good life? The good life is training. I need to have something going on in my head, I need a work routine, a goal…It’s easier for me to train than to be happy rubbing elbows with the whole world.
Has it occurred to you, quietly, that you’re in the same position as Armstrong, your idol?
I still don’t see myself that way. I saw him and he was incredible. However, being here has always been what I loved, my dream. I like it. Hopefully it will be like this for many years.
Translation by Adolfo Cortes, introduction by Rebecca Bell.
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Monday, November 26, 2007
Alberto Contador is out to prove his 2007 Tour de France victory was no fluke.
The Spanish climber says he's ready to get back to the business of training and preparing for the 2008 Tour after a busy off-season that's included a seemingly endless stream of publicity appearances.
"With so many commitments I've hardly had time to rest, but I'm ready to get back on the bike and begin again from zero," he told MARCA during a break at an award's ceremony in Spain. "I need to stop these and get back to work."
Besides scores of post-Tour criteriums, Contador's hardly raced since his surprise Tour victory.
That will change in the coming weeks as Astana is set for its first team camp with new team manager Johan Bruyneel.
The reigning Tour champ admits he's already feeling some pressure coming into a new season.
"I'll really feel it when the racing starts and I have all the world watching me," Contador said. "But I am also conscious that if I have the pressure it's because I've won and I tell myself, if I've won it once, I can win it again. That's what motivates me."
Contador has never been lacking of confidence. He was largely hyped as a future Tour winner when he shot out of the blue last year to step calmly into the void left vacant by the controversial departure of race leader Michael Rasmussen.
"I've always had self-confidence, but now, after the year I've had, I know that I can keep winning," he continued. "We'll see how things go. Before, I only dreamed about winning, now, after winning once, I dream of winning again. There are other factors, but I see myself with options."
Contador counted Astana teammate Levi Leipheimer along with Cadel Evans and Andreas Kloden as the most dangerous rivals. He also pointed to Andy Schleck and Thomas Dekker as possible surprises and also listed Alejandro Valverde, Carlos Sastre and Denis Menchov as would-be challengers to his throne.
"There's not just one, there are several," he said.
Contador said he hasn't had a chance to sit down with Bruyneel to plan his 2008 racing schedule, but added it likely wouldn't change too much from this season "considering that things went pretty well this season."
Last year, Contador won Paris-Nice and then built up his fitness through racing some select races leading into July. He also put a question mark on whether he'd race the Vuelta a Espana, which he also skipped this year.
What will change for 2008 are the Summer Olympic Games in Beijing. Although he's no one-day rider, Contador said he'd love to go.
"I've heard the course is very hard, though I don't know for sure, that there's a climb of 12km that's climbed six times," he said. "If it's true, then it could be good for me, though I wouldn't mind working for Freire and Valverde if the course isn't as hard as they say it is."
2004 Ultraman winner Jonas Colting of Boras, Sweden led wire-to-wire, finishing with a conservative, third-best 7:16:31 double marathon. His 21:59:57 finish - 16 minutes worse than his near-record 2004 race - left him with the fourth-best Ultraman men's time ever for the 320-mile, three-day triathlon stage race founded in 1983.
"This year was a lot harder than 2004," said Colting. "The first day currents on the swim cost me 14 minutes, and led to nutrition problems and cramps which depleted my strength for the final two days. Still, I'm excited to win here again in a race that stays true to the roots of the sport."
Brazil's 2003 and 2005 Ultraman champion Alexandre Ribeiro of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, overcame a costly off-course excursion on Saturday's 171.4-mile bike, finishing with the second-best men's run of 6:38:53, which left him in second place overall in 23:05:04.
Tim Sheeper, a 44-year-old triathlon coaching executive from Menlo Park, California, and another Ultraman rookie, dropped from second place overall to third on the final day. His final day double marathon of 7:24:17 gave him an overall time 14 minutes behind Ribeiro and a spot on the podium.
Steady Peter Mueller, a 45-year-old Swissair employee from Zurich, stayed steady all three days to finish in 24:29:51. His 4th place against a tough field joined his two previous third place finishes.
Miro Kregar, a 43-year-old telecommunications worker and triathlon coach from Slovenia, came back from a broken crank and slow times on a borrowed bike on Saturday to finish with the fastest run of the day. Kregar's 6:27:58 run advanced him from 9th place to 5th with a finishing time of 24:45:26.
Sunday, November 25, 2007
Hawi, Hawaii - Sweden's Jonas Colting overcame his Day 1 cramping calves from hell to take a formidable lead after two days in the 23rd Ultraman, while Texas ultra star Shanna Armstrong fought off a determined bike by an Ultra rookie to claim a big lead in her quest to win an unprecedented fourth Ultraman crown.
Colting, a two-time ITU long course world championship medalist pro embracing this purists' race-for-free classic, fell 16 minutes off his own near-record pace while winning the 2004 Ultraman, but his blazing 171.4-mile second day bike increased his overall lead to an imposing 71 minutes at the end of the second day.
Colting rode a third-best ever Ultraman men's second day bike of 7:34:16 to a total elapsed time of 14:42:13 to give him a 71 minutes 35 second margin over second placed Tim Sheeper of Menlo Park, California going into Sunday's 52.4-mile double marathon finale.
"Things are much better today, said Colting. "But I don't even want to think about going for the record any more."
Colting's 3:12 first marathon in 2004 was followed by a 4:12 closing 26.2 miles and the untrained ultra novice missed Holger Speigel's 1998 Ultraman course record by 17 seconds. This year, Colting has to run 6:58:08 to break the 10-year-old Ultraman mark. He ran 7:14 in 2004, closing with a hobbling 4:02 marathon.
His only chance, it seems, will be to try to key off his third place competitor's usual sub-6:50 double marathon pace. Despite an uncharacteristic bonehead off-course excursion that cost him nearly 30 minutes, 2003 and 2005 Ultraman World Champion Alexandre Ribeiro of Brazil still posted an 8:21:58 ride which left him third overall - 1 hour 44 minutes and 58 seconds behind Colting.
"Sometimes I drink too much water and coke and I forget where I am," said Ribeiro. "I missed the turn in Waimea and rode 10 minutes down hill toward the ocean instead of turning toward the Kohalas."
Sheeper, the sleeper in the field, said he finished the day "deep bone tired" and was somewhat bemused and taken aback by being so competitive. "I came here to celebrate the end of my racing as a professional,"said the 44-year-old multisport coaching executive who once upon a time was a top-five contender in the old USTS Olympic distance series. "I didn't come here to race. I just wanted to do it, talk to my crew and have a good time. But then I got caught up in this race by leaderboards and time clocks. I got sucked in and I got mad at myseklf for getting sucked in."
Ultraman is a unique, three-day triathletic circumnavigation of the Big Island of Hawaii held annually on the weekend after Thanksgiving. Friday starts with a 10km swim from Kailua Pier to Keauhou Bay, then evolves into a tough 90-mile bike ride over 8,700-feet of climbing to Volcanoes National Monument. Saturday continues with a 171.4-mile bike ride over 8,600 feet of climbing from Volcanoes to Hawi. And Sunday this band of overdistance gypsies wraps things up with a 52.8-mile double marathon along the Queen K Highway from Hawi to Kona.
Day Two Results
1. Jonas Colting (Swe) Day 1 - 7:08:57 - Day 2 - 7:34:16 TOT 14:43:13
2. Tim Sheeper (USA) Day 1 -7:52:48 - Day 2 - 8:012:58 TOT 15:54:56
3. Alexandre Ribeiro (Bra) D 1 - 8:04:20- Day 2 - 8:21:51 TOT 16:26:11
4. Peter Mueller (Sui) Day 1 - 8:24:30- Day 2 - 8:19:24 TOT 16:43:54
5. Scott Gower (USA) Day 1 - 8:20:24 - Day 2 - 8:31:33 TOT 16:51:57
6. Josef Ajram (Esp) Day 1 - 8:37:37- Day 2- 8:14:29 TOT 16:52:06
7. Trevor King (USA) Day 1 - 8:31:19 - Day 2 - 8:40:13 TOT 17:11:32
8. Gary Wang (USA) Day 1 - 8:55:33 - Day 2 - 8:32:53 TOT 17:28:26
9. Miro Kregar (Slo) Day 1 - 9:12:30 - Day 2 - 9:04:58 TOT 18:17:28
10. Marty Raymond (Can) Day 1 - 8:55:08 - Day 2 - 9:41:xx TOT 18:36:57
11. Jeff Landauer (USA) Day 1 - 10:11:26 -Day 2- 8:30:37 TOT 18:42:03
12. Kari Martens (Swe) Day 1 - 10:20:42 - Day 2 - 8:46:12 TOT 19:06:54
Saturday, November 24, 2007
By: Timothy Carlson
VOLCANOES NATIONAL MONUMENT, Hawaii - The two-time ITU long course World Championship medalist from Sweden lay on the grass in Hawaii's Volcanoes National Park not to celebrate opening a 43-minute lead but to pay the Ultra price.
Jonas Colting winced in pain and tried to hold his throbbing calf after swimming 10km in a race-best 2 hours 26 minutes and biking 90 miles with 8,700 feet of steep climbing in similarly superior 4 hours 42 minutes on the opening day of the three day Ultraman Triathlon World Championship.
His first day total of 7 hours 8 minutes and 57 seconds led Tim Sheeper of Menlo Park, California and two-time Ultraman winner Alexandre Ribeiro of Brazil by nearly an hour. But all Colting could do was stare at his huge calf muscle as it throbbed and contracted like a horror movie.
"I've got the movie monster from Alien inside my legs, trying to get out" said Colting to his support crew. "Give me salt pills!"
Almost precisely two hours later, three-time defending champion Shanna Armstrong of Texas held nasty infected blisters on her neck and back and wondered where she might find some pain pills. "I wore a fastskin suit for the swim to avoid wetsuit chafing and look what I got - infected cuts!" said the 33-year-old ultra star from the Lone Star State.
The woman who shares a domination of her endurance sport and a last name with a world famous Lance was happy about her 44-minute lead over Ultraman rookie Iona McKenzie of Golden, Colorado. And despite fighting a wicked late shoreline current that slowed her 2006 swim by 24 minutes, Armstrong had to feel good about her 3 hours 10 minute swim and 5 hours 58 minute swim.
But there's something about an Ultraman that takes an unholy high pain threshold to get the most out of this unique, three-day triathletic circumnavigation of the Big Island of Hawaii held annually on the weekend after Thanksgiving.
After all, Friday starts with a 10km swim from Kailua Pier to Keauhou Bay, then evolves into a tough 90-mile bike ride over 8,700-feet of climbing to Volcanoes National Monument. Saturday continues with a 171.4-mile bike ride over 8,600 feet of climbing from Volcanoes to Hawi. And Sunday this band of overdistance gypsies wraps things up with a 52.8-mile double marathon along the Queen K Highway from Hawi to Kona.
That is along way to work off a Turkey dinner.
At the end of this first day, Colting's ambition to avenge his 17-second loss of the course record fell 15 minutes behind his torrid 2004 pace.
Ultraman rookie Tim Sheeper of Menlo Park, California hung tough with a second-best 2:38:48 swim and a 5:14:00 bike to finish the day in second place in 7:52:48 and outpace 2005 and 2007 Ultraman World Champion Alexandre Ribeiro of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil by 11 minutes.
While there was no surprise that Armstrong led a strong women's field, 37-year-old Ultraman rookie Iona McKenzie shocked Ultraman veterans with a second best ever first day bike total of 5:48:09 - better than any of Armstrong's first day bikes and topped in Ultraman history only by 1985 Ultraman champion Ardis Bow's ride.
McKenzie, whose only previous notable triumph was her 2006 win against a small field at the inaugural 24 Hours of Triathlon in Boulder, rocketed from 5th woman to 2nd with her an outstanding ride.
Finishing third woman, just 2 minutes 40 seconds back of McKenzie, was another Ultraman rookie, 43-year-old Ann Heaslett of Madison, Wisconsin, whose 3:55:05 swim and very respectable 6:00:53 bike left this notable ultra-runner with hope for Sunday's double marathon. If Heaslett can withstand Saturday's 171.4-mile bike ride, she is then free to unleash a killer run that propelled her to a PR sub-16 hour 100-mile run in 2002. If Armstrong doesn't have more than an hour advantage over Heaslett by the end of the bike, this epic struggle could be barn burner close.
On a sunny, hot, windy day after Thanksgiving, 30 of 31 individual competitors managed to finish within the 12-hour time limit. Only recent Ultraman Canada winner Scott Beasley pulled out with ailments before finishing the bike. Mike Rouse, an accomplished 17-time 100-mile ultra-runner, made the cutoff time with just 46 seconds to spare. Defending champion Jeff Landauer of Roseville California was struck with debilitating cramps on the swim, but managed to struggle to an honorable 10 hour 11 minute finish in 16th place.
23rd Ultraman World Championship
Kailua-Kona to Volcanoes National Monument, Hawaii
November 23, 2007
S 6.2 mi/ B 90 mi
Day One Results
1. Jonas Colting (Swe) Swim 2:26:21 Bike 4:42:36 TOT 7:08:57
2. Tim Sheeper (Menlo Park CA) Swim 2:38:48 Bike 5:14:00 TOT 7:52:48
3. Alexandre Ribeiro (Bra) Swim 3:07:53 Bike 4:56:27 TOT 8:04:20
4. Scott Gower (Atascadero CA) Swim 2:48:14 Bike 5:32:10 TOT 8:20:24
5. Peter Mueller (Swi) Swim 3:01:48 Bike 5:22:42 TOT 8:24:30
6. Trevor King ( ) Swim 2:54:56 Bike 5:36:234 TOT 8:31:19
7. Jozef Ajram (Esp) Swim 3:34:22 Bike 5:03:15 TOT 8:37:37
8. Marty Raymond (Can) Swim 2:44:54 Bike 6:10:11 TOT 8:55:05
9. Gary Wang (Corte Madera CA) Swim 3:34:12 Bike 5:21:21 TOT 8:55:33
10. Miro Kregar (Slo) Swim 3:27:31 Bike 5:44:59 TOT 9:12:30
1. Shanna Armstrong (Lubbock TX) Swim 3:10:53 Bike 5:58:18 TOT 9:09:11
2. Iona McKenzie (Golden CO) Swim 4:05:07 Bike 5:48:09 TOT 9:53:18
3. Ann Heaslett (Madison WI) Swim 3:55:05 Bike 6:00:53 TOT 9:55:58
4. Venuza Maciel (Bra) Swim 4:00:46 Bike 6:17:33 TOT 10:18:19
5. Suzy Degazon (Glendora CA) Swim 4:18:28 Bike 6:08:15 TOT 10:26:44
6. Michelle Santilhano (Menlo Park CA/ RSA) S 3:44:40 B 6:47:57 TOT 10:32:37
7. Toni Barstis (Niles MI) Swim 4:17:41 Bike 7:00:31 TOT 11:18:12
Thursday, November 22, 2007
Adding to the excitement of flying bean bag turkeys being tossed for extra series points was the appearance of Ned Overland, the godfather of cross country mountain biking, for the elite men's race. The question of the day was how would "Deadly Nedly" – best known for his UCI Mountain Bike World Championship Gold in 1990 and Bronze in 1991 and six US National Mountain Bike Championship titles 1986, '87, '89, '90, '91, '92 – handle the infamous Entradero Park hill and the new turn with its three log barriers. Overend, racing for Specialized, put the hurt on the younger riders for most of the race but in the end it was Team Bearclaw's Fritz Bottger taking the win ahead of Jason Lowetz and Overend.
Another surprise took place in the Masters 45+ race. The addition of the 'cross friendly triple logs enabled the 'cross specialists to edge out the top mountain biker Eddie Arnet. Masters 45+ series leader Arnet fell behind Jim Pappe and Michael Longmire (who came all the way from Montana) to end up in third. But Arnet retained his series lead over Dave Hnatiuk.
A huge turnout of Shimano Youth racers 12 & under topped the day's attendance at over 150 riders. A random cash giveout by junior Duncan Reid to the elite men's category again entertained the crowd, particularly when Lyle Warner edged out Brandon Gritters for one of the cash grabs.
Urban Cyclocross Series Event #4 will happen at Camp James in Irvine, California on December 16. It will be hosted by Encore Cycling.
1 Fritz Bottger
2 Jason Lowetz
3 Ned Overend
Masters 45+ men
1 Jim Pappe
2 Michael Longmire
3 Eddie Arnet
Monday, November 19, 2007
By: KAREN CROUSE
Dara Torres, the fastest female swimmer in America, plunged toward the bottom of the pool, like a child scavenging for coins. She came up for a breath, grinning. The lanes next to hers pulsed with swimmers pushing themselves through 100- and 200-meter timed sprints, but Torres was under orders from her coach to rest, the better to let her 40-year-old body recover.
It was a Friday, the end of another unorthodox training week for Torres, a four-time Olympian who is doing less in the water to wring more results out of a swimming career that was supposed to have run dry by now.
Her day had begun just after dawn in the weight room, where she worked her legs until they quivered and her arms until they ached — without pressing a weight or lifting a dumbbell. The 90-minute workout was the first leg of her training triathlon. It was followed by 90 minutes of swimming and 60 minutes of stretching.
Torres’s training is cutting edge so that her personal pharmacy does not have to be. A nine-time Olympic medalist who made her first Olympic team in 1984, Torres is at a short-course meet in Berlin this weekend, representing the United States in the freestyle sprints in her last competition of the year. She has the 2008 Summer Games in her sights after winning the 100 freestyle and setting a United States record in the 50 freestyle at the national championships in August.
In a one-lap race, where personal bests are typically whittled by hundredths of a second, Torres’s progression is astounding. Her age adds to the intrigue. What she is doing would be akin to Roger Clemens’s throwing a fastball harder now, at 45, than he did 20 years ago or goaltender Ed Belfour’s coming out of retirement at 42 to post his career-best save percentage.
“I think what Dara’s doing is fantastic,” said Gary Hall Sr., who was 25 and considered ancient — his teammates nicknamed him the Old Man and the Sea — when he swam in his third Olympics in 1976. “It proves that we really don’t know what the peak age of performance is.”
For every person who marvels at Torres’s motor, there are others who wonder what kind of fuel she is putting in her tank. It is the nature of a sport that lost its squeaky-clean image long ago. Beginning in the late 1960s with East Germany’s state-supported doping program and continuing through the 1990s with a rash of failed drug tests by the Chinese, the pool has turned into a breeding ground for skeptics, suspicion and cynicism.
“Behind my back people are saying I must be using something,” Torres said. “I know it. I hear it.”
She has been tested for performance-enhancing drugs more than half a dozen times this year, and the results have been negative, said Mark Schubert, the national team’s coach and general manager. At Torres’s request, her blood is being drawn regularly so she can be tested for illegal substances like human growth hormone that cannot be detected in urine.
“My attitude is, bring it on,” Torres said. “Do what you have to do to prove I’m clean.”
Torres has ridden the wave of popular opinion from crest to crash. In 1994, she was the first athlete to appear alongside supermodels in Sports Illustrated’s swimsuit issue, her face instantly recognizable as belonging to the golden girl who graced the American 4x100 freestyle relay team that beat the big, bad East Germans at the 1992 Olympics and bettered their world record.
In 2000, when she returned to the sport after a six-year layoff and won five medals at the Sydney Olympics, Torres became the face of innuendo, her success grist for the rumor mill. The rumors troubled Michael Lohberg, the coach at Coral Springs Swim Club in Florida. While working with West German swimmers in the 1980s, Lohberg saw how destructive steroid use could be to the health of the users and the emotional well-being of their pursuers who were clean.
One swimmer he worked with was Birgit Schulz, an individual medley specialist who later became his wife. At the 1986 world championships, Schulz placed sixth in the 200 individual medley. Four of the finishers ahead of her were from Eastern bloc nations where steroid use was considered rampant.
Seeing her frustration crystallized Lohberg’s stance on performance-enhancing drugs: he did not condone them and would not coach anyone who used them.
In late 2005, while pregnant with her first child, Torres began swimming three or four times a week at the Coral Springs Aquatic Complex, where Lohberg’s club is based. After giving birth to her daughter, Tessa Grace, in April 2006, Torres raced in two masters meets and posted times that were competitive with the world’s elite swimmers, emboldening her to try another comeback. She asked Lohberg if he would coach her, and he sat her down to have The Talk.
He asked Torres if she had ever used performance-enhancing drugs. “For myself, I needed to have this clear before we started anything,” Lohberg said.
Torres recalled, “I said, ‘Why do you ask that?’ and he said, ‘Because that’s what everybody was talking about on the deck in Sydney.’”
She assured Lohberg that she would never use drugs. After they began working together, he saw no reason to doubt her.
“Technically, she’s brilliant,” Lohberg said.
“And Dara wants to be perfect,” he added. “She’s very conscientious.”
People who know her say it is ludicrous to suspect Torres of doping. If she is guilty of anything, her friends say, it is of being a compulsive exerciser.
“I don’t think she has ever been out of shape a day in her life,” said Schubert, who coached Torres in the late 1980s. “I think that’s what makes this possible and conceivable.”
At the Olympic trials next June in Omaha, dozens will compete for two berths in Torres’s best events, the 50 and 100 freestyles. When Torres won her 14th and 15th national titles this summer, she became a feel-good story for baby boomers and a bad omen for their freestyle-sprinting progeny.
Rumors that she is doping are hurtful, Torres said, “but in another way it’s sort of a compliment.” It tells her that younger competitors perceive her not as a relic but as a real threat.
Torres works in the water five times a week, down from 10 to 12 water workouts in her teens and 20s.
“My body definitely takes longer to recover,” she said. “I have my good days when I feel like I’m 20, and then I have my days when I can’t lift my arms out of the water.”
The cost of being a middle-age champion can be steep, but she can afford it. Torres enlisted Bloomberg L.P., Toyota and Speedo as sponsors to help defray her training expenses. She estimated that she would spend about $100,000 this year on her support staff.
In addition to Lohberg, Torres employs a sprint coach, Chris Jackson; a strength and conditioning coach, Andy O’Brien, who also oversees her diet; two full-time personal stretchers, Steve Sierra and Anne Tierney; a physical therapist; a masseuse; and a nanny. She also leans heavily on her boyfriend, David Hoffman, an obstetrician who is Tessa’s father.
Most days, Sierra and Tierney are waiting for Torres at her suburban Fort Lauderdale home when she is finished swimming. They twist and pull her torso and limbs in a vigorous resistance stretching routine that eases her body’s recovery by flushing out toxins and lactic acid.
“People can say I’m on drugs or whatever, but they are really my secret weapon,” Torres said, referring to Sierra’s and Tierney’s torturous routine.
O’Brien, who is on the staff of the N.H.L.’s Florida Panthers, said, “Dara’s really gone a step ahead of other athletes in terms of taking care of her body.”
He began working with Torres last November, introducing her to an ever-evolving regimen that encompasses Swiss balls, medicine balls, bands and resistance cables. The goal of her four 90-minute strength sessions each week is to stimulate her nervous system and strengthen her core muscles through a variety of multijoint movements.
The results have been striking. Torres’s muscles have grown longer and leaner, with the exception of those in her back and shoulders, which have thickened. She carries 150 pounds on her 6-foot frame, down from 160 in 2000. Her reaction time off the blocks has improved, and she is more efficient in the water.
“Over all, she got a lot fitter,” Lohberg said, adding, “and she’s more balanced in the water.”
One of O’Brien’s longtime clients is Sidney Crosby, the Pittsburgh Penguins’ star center. For all their differences, the 20-year-old Crosby and Torres are remarkably alike, O’Brien said. Crosby becomes nervous when he is given a new exercise or task to complete because he does not want to fail.
“Dara’s the same way,” O’Brien said as he watched her complete a drill on the Swiss ball. “Even if it’s just her and a Swiss ball, there’s almost a little nervous energy before she tries something new.”
He added, “Dara reminds me of the student who’s worried she’s going to fail the test and then gets a 100.”
Days before leaving for Berlin, Torres asked Lohberg to critique her flip turn. Never mind that she has done hundreds of thousands of turns over the years. In Torres’s mind, there is always room for improvement. Yesterday in Berlin, she twice lowered the United States record in the 50 freestyle on a course that is rarely contested here, venturing further into uncharted waters.