Kasia Niewiadoma’s training camp diary
What happens on a team training camp? Kasia Niewiadoma takes us with her while in Mallorca with CANYON//SRAM Racing.
If you’re a pro rider, rest is sacred and short-lived. And a new year means a new season with the Spring Classics as the first important block of the road season. In the spirit of getting everyone on the same page for the year ahead, teams coordinate training camps.
“The first training camp is an opportunity to come together and reaffirm the team objectives ahead of the start of the season,” explains Team Manager Beth Duryea. “Riders have plenty of hard training kilometres alongside full support from the team staff. It’s a matter of building on the work that riders have been doing during their pre-season and fine-tuning those preparations towards the first team races. It's also important to have some team-building moments where the riders and staff can have fun together.”
The end of the UCI road racing calendar concludes around the end of October. If you follow the stars of professional road cycling on social media, you’ll see them enjoying time away from the sport for a few short weeks around November and December. It’s well-earned after a long year of hard racing. Their bodies and minds need the time to rest and recuperate.
Kasia is raring to go for the 2023 season. Watch her THIS RIDER episode to get a feel for what it’s like for the woman who grew up in the Polish mountains and catapulted herself on to the world stage.
Mallorca: the training camp ground of choice
Some of the best road bike rides in the world are in Mallorca. It’s a Mecca for cyclists and a lot of teams choosing the Spanish island as the place for the first training camp of the year due to its consistent temperatures and varied terrain.
CANYON//SRAM Racing and CANYON//SRAM Generation gathered in a town on the south eastern coast of Mallorca. With temperatures in the mid-teens and a backdrop of blue skies, it’s easy to see why teams flock there while the rest of Europe is frigid with cold.
We wanted to know what goes on behind closed doors at a training camp, so we asked Kasia Niewiadoma to document a typical day for us.
Early on in our conversation, it’s easy to see there are two Kasias. Kasia at home in the off-season wakes up around 8:30 and quenches her thirst with a glass of water with a slice of lemon. She and her partner then enjoy coffee and breakfast together at a slow and steady pace.
“On training camps, I somehow wake up much earlier,” Kasia tells us. “I feel like I need a bit of time for myself before I dive into the team activities. I bring my coffee kit with me wherever I go, so I’ll make a coffee then go for a walk. It’s just so that I can be on my own before I go for breakfast with everyone.”
Most cyclists know the importance of coffee and we’re not surprised that Kasia likes to savour the moment in solitude.
What do pro cyclists eat for breakfast?
After Kasia has finished off her cup of coffee, her attention turns to food. A nutritious breakfast is important for riders who are about to spend all their energy on the bike, so what’s on the menu for Kasia?
“My classic breakfast is always toast with omelette made with two eggs. It has to be really soft unlike a Spanish omelette. On one part, I have avocado and on the other part raspberry jam,” she laughs admitting it’s a weird mix.
Omelette and raspberry jam might shock a few readers, but Kasia explains it’s not as rare as you might think. “I was at a race with one of my teammates from the Netherlands. She asked whether I had ever tried apple stroop on an omelette. I tried it and I instantly fell in love with it!”
Another meal on Kasia’s breakfast menu could be more of a crowd pleaser. “Banana with tahini, chocolate nibs and shredded coconut pairs perfectly with filter coffee!”
Athlete nutrition is a curious topic. With the off-season behind her, Kasia’s mind switches towards the Classics in a little under 6 weeks’ time.
“The first training camp is the benchmark between living in the off-season doing whatever you want and being professional again when it comes to food. I always make a switch. I realise that, okay, now it’s time to get back on track.”
Hatch a plan
After breakfast, she’s bursting with energy and raring to go for the day ahead. Where the likes of you and I ride from our front doors and into our local lanes, professionals have a slightly different routine.
On this particular day of training camp, the riders were collected from the hotel so that they could avoid the headwind at the start of the planned route. It’s this support from the coaches and team staff that enable the riders to focus their efforts.
The coach will draw up a plan based on targets they’ve discussed with the rider. Intervals, climbing, sprinting, time trialling – it’s all possible. Some efforts are better suited to certain terrain.
“Knowing you’re able to stick to your coach’s plan is very crucial,” says Kasia. “We have a number of possibilities in the day like staying here or going further into the mountains. Having a Plan B is very important. We’re very grateful and appreciative of that.”
When they’re out on the road, it’s time to get down to business. There’s work to do. With a bunch of riders on a training camp, we’re curious to find out who Kasia likes to buddy up with.
“We actually started to rotate around so that we can ride with a lot of different girls. Before, we were always two in the front and two pull off. With this chaingang, we can ride with everyone,” she explains. “I definitely like riding next to Elise [Chabbey] because she’s always very bubbly and time passes very fast with her.”
Kasia’s other buddies are of course her road bikes. She can usually be seen training on her Canyon Aeroad and racing on her Canyon Ultimate. Both bikes are synonymous with success in bike races around the world.
“I like both of them equally,” says Kasia contemplating the wind tunnel data behind each model. “I would really like to be able to train and race on the same bike, especially because I know the position is practically the same. The Ultimate definitely feels different going up hills, though. When I come out of a switchback or corner, I can quickly get out of the saddle if I need to.”
Back at basecamp
Once training is wrapped up for the day, exhaustion sets in and it’s time to engage recovery mode. After a particularly hard day, recovery continues into the next day giving the team time to regain their strength and maximise their training capacity.
“I’m not a fan of recovery days at training camp because I feel that I’m not productive,” confesses Kasia. “It’s nice to rest but in some ways, I feel like I waste my time. When I’m at home, I do some house chores, get groceries, bake or cook. These tasks allow me to find the right balance with cycling. At training camp, I definitely feel like it’s good to rest and do nothing. But mentally I don’t enjoy it.”
With a day to chill out, what does Kasia’s day look like?
“It’s important for me to start the day with some time for myself,” says Kasia in a similar vein to her training days on camp. “I wake up, pray, and I have a little – I wouldn’t call it meditation but like self-talk that allows me just to clear my mind. Then I have coffee by myself. Those 30-45 minutes allow me to be open, energetic and smiley towards others. Afterwards, I’ll usually grab a book and go to the beach. Especially here, it’s super easy to go on the deckchairs, it’s beautiful and you can just chill.”
The importance of sleep
Sleep tracking has become more popular in recent years thanks to wearable technology. Many scientific studies have backed up the importance of sleep on mental health and recovery. Kasia is all too aware of the benefits of a good night’s sleep but it’s a fine balance between knowing enough and knowing too much.
“Bedtime is around 10:30 when we’re on camp but sometimes I’m so fixated on my sleep that I can’t get to sleep until 1am,” explains Kasia who uses an Oura ring to track her sleep from time to time. “Sometimes the more I track my sleep, the more obsessed I become about the timing and quality of it. So, it depends on my mindset and the rate I prepare for that time of year. I enjoy tracking my sleep but not too much!”
Eat, sleep and repeat
The following days of training camp are packed with riding, recovery and everything in between. Afterwards, it's up to the riders to train themselves (alongside their coaches) at home in the lead up to races.
“A successful training camp is when the group has created a special bond as a team and is ready and motivated to work towards the season highlights and goals,” says Beth at the end of a full-on week of team camp. “We want riders to leave the camp in the best shape possible for this time of year and are mentally and physically ready for the approaching race season.”
We’re so excited to see Kasia and the whole CANYON//SRAM Racing and CANYON//SRAM Generation team succeed this year. Show your support on the road with the team kit!