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Many riders want to train like the pros, and pro teams need financing. Jonathan Vaughters is putting the two together with Team EF Coaching.
The WorldTour team EF Education-Nippo is now offering a three-tiered custom coaching package, where cyclists of any level can be coached by current and former riders, staff, and elite coaches — all of whom draw from the team’s collective experience.
All proceeds from this charter effort will go towards funding the team.
Vaughters, the EF Education-Nippo CEO, said pro cycling has long struggled with a sustainable business model for teams. While some teams are basically funded by high-level fans via corporate sponsorship, he said, and even his operation did a #SaveArgyle fundraiser, Vaughters wants to create a model that gives fans something in return.
“Pro cycling is so unstable. We can’t sell tickets, like many sports. ASO isn’t going to give us partial rights to their races. So instead of complaining about it like I have for the last decade, how about doing something about it? How about giving cycling fans what they want?” he said. “This idea is the most game-changing thing that has happened in cycling sponsorship ever, basically.”
DTP over FTP
Functional threshold power, or FTP, is a common term in cycling training. Many coaches use an FTP model to calibrate workouts and measure progress. FTP is often measured by taking 95 percent of your 20-minute all-out power.
Hogwash, Vaughters says.
Team EF Coaching is using a new concept they call Dynamic Threshold Power, or DTP. While Vaughters declined to spell out the fine details of how this is attained, he said the concept is to measure how a rider can perform multiple efforts before and after a long ride.
“DTP is a way to evaluate a cyclist’s performance based on 20 years of experience in cycling on what makes a rider fast, what makes a rider good, and what makes a rider perform at a high level,” Vaughters said. “In my experience, FTP is not that. There are lots of athletes who have very high FTPs who are not good cyclists; they are good at a 20-minute FTP test.”
DTP takes into account recovery, aerodynamics, anaerobic and aerobic power capacity, and more, Vaughters said.
“Without getting into the specifics — that’s top secret — it is essentially doing a set of short efforts early in a ride, then riding a long time, then doing the tests again later in the ride, then comparing the early efforts to the later ones. Of course it’s power based, but it’s about how to make you a better bike rider.”
The coaches and the coaching levels
There are three tiers available. Each includes custom training plans built into a white-label Today’s Plan software. (VeloNews uses Today’s Plan for the training plans and analysis tools available free to all Outside+ members.)
The Core membership is $425/mo or $4,680/year and includes access to a coach, a library of training content from Team EF Coaching, and two nutrition consultations with a dietician.
The Premium membership is $675/mo or $7,428/year and includes the Core offerings plus customized nutrition plans, a nutrition library, customized strength training, and injury prevention plans, discounts from team partners and, for annual members, a Rapha Cycling Club membership.
The Elite membership gets you everything the EF Education-Nippo riders get — except the whole pro contract part.
At this level — for which EF Team Coaching has not published a price — “you get coached like Rigoberto Urán: wind-tunnel testing, altitude testing, unlimited interaction with our strength and conditioning team, you name it,” Vaughters said.
“Even at the lower price points, the amount of knowledge that goes into those is pretty immense,” he said.
The coaches range from current and former riders like Tejay van Garderen to veteran coaches, all of whom are backed by the team of advisors who work with the pro team on lactate metabolism, fluid dynamics, nutrition, and the like.
“One of the most exciting coaches is Michael Valgren, who is at the Tour right now,” Vaughters said. “This is a guy who has won the Amstel Gold, and he was like, ‘Sure, I’ll coach a couple of people.’”
Vaughters said the plan is to get 100-125 coaching clients this year, learn, and then refine the model.
“We want to learn how to do this really well before we get any bigger,” he said. “We’re making a leap. We’re developing a sustainable business model for the sport.”