The COVID-19 pandemic has brought professional cycling to a halt. In the coming weeks we will be reaching out to pro riders and other personalities from the sport to understand how their lives are continuing amidst the shutdown.
Only weeks ago, popular Italian rider Daniel Oss was finishing up an intense altitude training camp in Colombia with his long-time friend and teammate Peter Sagan, before returning to Europe to attack the spring classics. But shortly after returning to his home in Italy, he understood that there would be no spring classics. Living the northern region of Trentino, Oss is not far from the Lombardy region — the epicenter of the his country’s coronavirus crisis. We caught up with Oss, who like all professionals cyclists is trying to simply stay health and fit, while also enjoying a few of his other favorite pastimes.
Location: Lake Garda, Trentino, Italy
Daniel you live in northern Italy, which as been hit particularly hard by the coronavirus crisis. How are you holding up?
Yeah, I live [near] Lake Garda. Lombardy is still a good way away from us, and in my own town we are good, but that said, we are very much in lockdown. We can only go out to get food or walk the dog, but that is it. But you can sense that people are scared. The retirement community has been hit hard as no one can visit them. The main problem is that the hospitals are full. Some hotels here are being transformed into hospitals to make room for everybody that is sick.
Can you go outside at all? I understood that professional cyclists in Italy could actually go ride?
Well legally we could, but it’s not really possible. It’s just not the right thing to do. You could crash or something, and take the place in a hospital of somebody that is sick. And then it just doesn’t set a good example. We really just have to stay at home and stay safe. That is the most important thing to do. It is the only way to solve this problem.
What races were you planning to do that have been cancelled or postponed?
Well I got off to a good start to the season, racing first in the Vuelta a San Juan in Argentina, before going Colombia with Peter [Sagan], Oscar Gatto, and Maciej Bodnar for an intensive altitude training camp. We were there for almost a month and we were really focused and working hard. Nobody expected this. We came back and were getting ready for our first race, Strade Bianche, only to find out that it would be cancelled. At first I tried to find other races. I went to the Grand Prix Jean-Pierre Monseré in Belgium, but then soon enough, everything stopped. Tirreno-Adriatico was cancelled and then all of the classics.
What races were you planning to do that were cancelled?
Everything this spring! Normally my plan was to do Strade Bianche, Tirreno-Adriatico, Milan-San Remo, and then all of the northern classics through Paris-Roubaix.
What are you doing these days? Obviously you have been doing some cooking.
Yes, we are Italian so we like to cook! We can still go to the supermarket, so this is one thing we can do. And then of course, we have to do the best we can to stay fit.
Well that crostata looked pretty darn good…
And it was! Originally we just planned on making one. But we ended up making three: one of red berries, one of prunes and one of Nutella.
How have you been staying fit?
Well mostly we are just trying to maintain our fitness. I do a stationary ride for an hour twice a day, mostly. More than that is counterproductive in my opinion. And then some gym-work, here in the house. But two hours on the stationary is hard, so I try to focus firstly on power and speed.
Do you have any specific workouts that you can share?
Well for strength, I do sets of 10 X 3 minutes at 60-70 rpm and a really big gear. It’s just like on the road really. You only ride at say 70 percent of your intensity, but that is the best way to work on power on the bike. And then for speed, I just go as hard as I can in a big gear from eight to 12 seconds, once every two minutes. Those are two good ways to maintain power and speed.
What indoor gear are you using?
Wahoo is our team sponsor so I have one of their home trainers. And then sometimes I do Zwift, just to have some social connection while riding. There is a bit of a social network developing here in Italy where people meet up and ride. And then I have some free-body workouts with a rubber cord for weight-type workouts.
What is your motivation to train now?
That is admittedly not evident. We are just floating really, because we do not know when we will race again. There are just rumors about when we might potentially race again, but we don’t know. May main motivation is simply to stay healthy and fit so that when we can go back out on the roads again, I get my condition back quickly. In some ways, it is like we are having a second winter this year. And you just want to stay as fit as possible before that first training camp of the season. You don’t want to be too fat. You just want to be in the best shape possible.
How are you communicating with friends and family?
Well, there is the social stuff like we all have, and then telephones and Facetime with friends. I’m doing things like having an aperitivo on Facetime with friends, whatever again to stay in contact with my friends.
Is there any helpful advice that is making a difference?
Well, pretty much like anyone. Wear a mask when you go outside, even gloves. Keep a good distance from other. Wash and clean as much as possible. And don’t do stupid things that could cause an accident.
When do you think you’ll race again?
Oh who knows? Originally there were saying that shops might open again on April 3, but already they are talking about extending that date. I really don’t know. I can just hope.
There is talk that the Tour de France could still take place — perhaps without fans. What do you think? Is it possible?
Well I am still hoping that we can have the Tour. That would be great! As an athlete I just really hope. The Tour is the main event in the season, or certainly in the summer. So it would be great to do it. I would love it, if the Tour could be possible!