Culture

Project World Title: My aim to beat Filippo Ganna, and everyone else, at the world championships

How do you go from a world record ride, and keep exploring new areas of performance?

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This is the first of a three-part series by Ashton Lambie, who set a world record in the individual pursuit, in Mexico, in August. This new series details his preparation for and participation in the world championships in France in October.

So what have we been up to since Mexico? Our trailer, the R.S.V. Resolute had a few projects in the works, especially with the harsh Montana winter quickly approaching. The Argon made it back, I’d gone sub-4, and worlds was next on the list. How do you go from a world record ride, and keep exploring new areas of performance?

Balancing the positive and negative aspects of performance can be one of the toughest parts of the job. You have a goal, and it’s not ever really a terminal goal. It’s usually a benchmark towards something else, or there is also a goal past it.

So, with my successful world record done and dusted, there was a good mix of celebration and critique. I had two months to get ready for the world championships, where world time trial champion Filippo Ganna of Ineos Grenadiers had announced he would try to break the four-minute barrier as well. Regardless of times or outcomes, there would be some serious bike racing to be had over 4k!

There are a few ways to look at the outcome from Mexico, listed here in order of positive to negative for tidiness!

  • I went faster than anyone ever had in the history of the world
  • I publicly set a goal, and met it
  • I managed that time without the advantage of another rider on the track
  • I only met the goal by 0.07 of a second (1.2 meters at 62kph)
  • It was at altitude, and it wasn’t in a true race
  • A 4:03 in Berlin last year should’ve been, on paper, faster than a 3:59 at altitude

So post-Mexico, I had a lot of aspects to consider!

In a lot of ways, it was an incredible ride, but there was clearly still room for improvement. The middle distance training from Chris at Athletic Strength Institute had worked, but could it possibly be better? The plan would involve some slight tweaks, some more fun activities to avoid late-season burnout, and always some work on the farm.

The goal was to focus on some high-intensity aerobic fitness leading into Roubaix — where the 2021 world championships were hosted. I’d done a massive block of anaerobic capacity, and with luck, I would maintain that anaerobic fitness while also improving threshold. I also wanted to build up my threshold so I wouldn’t burn through the anaerobic reserve as quickly, especially since there is more oxygen at sea level, at worlds.

I’ll admit, I was also suffering from a little burnout. I’d dug some serious holes to get through the weeks of the track bike on the turbo, and I needed a change of scenery to stay fresh and excited about cycling. So my training shifted to some exploratory rides around Montana, two days a week in the gym, two days on the turbo, and some Zwift racing thrown in for fun!

Once the shock to the system of riding more than two hours at a time wore off, I really felt like things were clicking. My power was steady on the longer rides, my appetite was up, and the weekly Zwift races with the NeXT E-Sports p/b Enshored team were feeling better, too!

I found some new mountain roads, got lost, took wrong turns, and had a great time of it, in general. This was also my first time doing pretty regular Zwift racing as training, and it worked even better than I imagined. Several days started by turning on the diesel-powered heater in the shed while I kitted up, then a 45-min race to get ready for an afternoon of trailer repairs. Even on the days when I got dropped, it was still more fun than some structured intervals, and kept the training towards the fun side!

After getting tickets and track sessions dialed in for Roubaix, I felt ready to go, refreshed, and was excited to hit the boards!