Jörg Ludewig about the Alpecin Cycling Challenge
How did you come up with the idea of Alpecin Cycling Challenge?
Well, we had to think of something that we can do with our amateur team considering the current situation. We chose 14 amateur cyclists from five countries who we wanted to create the season of their lives for, including a team presentation in Bielefeld, a training camp in Kaltern at the Lake and competition in some amateur races. Many of these events won’t take place analogically … but we want nevertheless that the chosen team riders train, stay fit and can take something away from this season despite the adverse circumstances. Therefore, we thought with Björn Geesmann of STAPS, our coaching partner, about solutions to implement these goals. By doing so, the idea came up to only train “digitally” for the time being.
You offer this opportunity not only to team members, but to any cycling enthusiast …
Yes, exactly. We thought about how to offer the community of enthusiastic cyclists some added value and let them participate. We receive several thousand applications of enthusiastic amateur cyclists for team Alpecin – and they all face the same challenge now, just like pro riders do, too: How do I motivate myself, how do I stay fit? We cannot answer if and when amateur races will again take place this season. But we can contribute to making people still enjoy cycling. So, we had the idea to spread the 2020 motto of our amateur team, “next level you”, more widely. This means that any amateur cyclist who wants to participate in the Alpecin Cycling Challenge may do so. After all, it is all about getting fitter and performing better within three months. This is also the challenge, i.e., the first goal of the season for our own amateur cyclists this year, as goals usually change at this time of the season.
How exactly does Alpecin Cycling Challenge work?
On April 15 all who want to will do a performance test on a bike trainer. We will stream it live on social media, connect our team riders and will explain to everyone how exactly such a performance test is done and, of course, also what to do with the results. The cyclists may then download training plans and work on their fitness and performance in the following three months – just like the pros do by the way. As a commentator with Eurosport, I have good contacts to athletes and pro teams and I know that they ride a lot on bike trainers at the moment, too. In some countries there is no other way to be active for that matter, as they imposed strict exit bans. For team play reasons, we will train as long as necessary digitally, i.e. indoor, by the way, as we have team riders from France, Italy and Great Britain who must not train outdoor at the moment. Therefore, it is important to me that all work as one. But I honestly do not consider this a problem as the team riders already interact in virtual space, although they’ve never met.
Do you think, that your amateur cyclists will compete in a race this year?
This is not for me to decide. There are currently more important things to worry about. Medical- and emergency staff are working flat out at the moment, so nobody can expect them to be on the roadside of an amateur race in summer, close the roads for it or provide first aid. If the opportunity should arise to ride amateur races in the second half of this year, we will certainly try to have our amateur riders compete in them together. But until then we want to keep them fit and improve their performance.