2023 certainly hasn’t been an easy season for me. I have struggled a lot with my health which has been a real challenge, and therefore I have had to adapt and be resilient – looking ahead to better times on my bike. After a strong start to the year at the UAE tour, in March I got Covid and it took me a very long time to recover, longer than expected. I lost around 15 days of training consequently impacting my return to racing.
In hindsight, I rushed to get back into the rhythm of training and competition which stressed my body a little too much causing me to fall ill just before La Vuelta Feminina, so I had to skip it and watch from the sidelines.
In the months that followed I struggled with a few viruses and small inflammations around my body, which peaked at the Tour de France avec Zwift. Unfortunately, a bacterial infection on my skin worsened, ultimately requiring surgery and ten days of antibiotics. Far from ideal, and not the goal I had in mind for the biggest race in the calendar.
Pinning a race number on my back at Tour de Romandie was my next goal. I had some time to train with focus and work on a rhythm to get my body in shape. The hope was there, however in reality as soon as I hit the road with the peloton and was back with my teamies, I realised that my body was not ready and I was not recovered. After consultation with the team staff and doctors, we decided that was the end of my season, and I’d focus on the off season and coming back stronger for 2024.
So what does off-season look like for a World Tour rider?
Normally you have around two weeks where you try to regenerate your body – try to be as chilled as you can and focus on your weakest points. A great excuse for time in the spa, relaxing and reading or visiting the osteopath for example to work on your body.
Over the next two weeks you are getting a little more active with easy exercise such as hikes, yoga, pilates and perhaps running. I personally love running in the mountains, or going on hikes – it makes me relax and enjoy the surroundings away for the busy schedule of the season. This is also good pre-training, setting your body up for what’s to come and moving the blood around your body.
It’s then time for training camps – at Lidl Trek we had our first camp in October. It was a chance for us to discover the new equipment, get to know new teammates and take a look at the schedule for the upcoming season, which I personally cannot wait for. A huge thank you to Trek and SRAM for the opportunity and experience, particularly having the chance to play ice hockey and then go and watch the pros (Chicago Bulls) in action. It was a lovely moment to share thoughts and have some fun!
The December camp is more focussed on physical tests and checks, training and also a chance for media requirements. January camp is then where it gets more serious with longer hours on the bike, with efforts and all the different training thrown in to prepare the team for the start of the race season.
Off season also provides different opportunities such as the chance to appear at events like Rouleur Live. You won’t believe me, but I have only been to London once before, so I was really looking forward to it. It was a great opportunity to interact with other people in the industry, and with the fans, which is really special. During the races you don’t have time to engage with the fans so much as the schedule is so crazy, so it’s the perfect chance to chat to them and hear what they think about cycling, about me as an athlete, and how I can help inspire them further.
Personally, this off season will be very special for me and one I will remember for life. I got married at the end of October which was incredible, and we then went to Martinique for a honeymoon. Hikes and swimming was on the agenda and we made the most of all activities. I’m a person who loves to relax, but also cannot stay lying on the beach all day long – I need to move a little bit!