Photo: Iri Greco / BrakeThrough Media | www.brakethroughmedia.com

A Q&A with Karel Bergmann, Our Technical Adviser to Etixx-Quick-Step on his thoughts on the Vuelta

Photo: Iri Greco / BrakeThrough Media | www.brakethroughmedia.com

Photo: Iri Greco / BrakeThrough Media | www.brakethroughmedia.com

You just got back from the Vuelta. What are your immediate thoughts after the race?

The Vuelta was a great race.  I think it was probably the most difficult grand tour of the season from a sporting perspective.  The Giro had a couple of epic stages through Val Gardena and Colle dell’Agnello, but the Vuelta just kept on delivering with epic finales.  From a GC perspective it was definitely the most riveting – it really came down to a battle in the final days.

From our perspective it went very well.  PRECISION performed very well for the riders, and Etixx – Quick-Step was definitely on their A-game.

It was a very successful Grand Tour for Etixx-Quick-Step – four stage wins and seventh overall for David de la Cruz. How was the team spirit after the race?

Team spirit was very high throughout the race, things started off on the right foot with stage wins from Gianni.  A day in red with David de la Cruz and then a great win for Gian Luca in Formigal kept spirits high.  The nature of the race made itself apparent towards the end.  You could tell that riders on all teams were getting really tired towards the end, and the stage ending in Formigal really highlighted the point.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen the groupetto come home nearly an hour after the lead group.

During the race David de la Cruz shared his data up the final climb of stage 10. You also shared your data up the same climb. There was a bit of a difference. Do you have a newfound respect from riders seeing this comparison?

I’ve been working with these guys for a while know, so I have tonnes of respect for what they’re capable of, but I wouldn’t exactly call it new-found.  I also had a sneaky suspicion that I might come in on the losing end of this race.

I think the truly impressive part of what we saw on the Aubisque was that I tailored my ride to give me a nice warm-up on the way to the base of the climb so that I could have a shot at an optimal performance.  For David it was the 4th climb of the day, 14 stages into a grand tour – now that’s impressive!

How do the riders use their power numbers during races? Do they have an idea before the stage what kind of numbers they want to put out?

For riders, the power meter is most important on long climbs and time trials where they need to be able to pace their efforts.  On the flats, the peloton dictates the pace.  As important as power meters have become in bike racing, you still need to hold the wheel in front yours, or it can be game over.

What would be your lasting memory from the Vuelta?

For me, it’s two things, the first was the great camaraderie within the Vuelta squad, and being able to experience it with guys that have become more than co-workers over the past season.  The personal attachments I’ve made over the season really took the experience to a new level.

The second was riding in Spain.  The terrain was amazing, but I think the Spanish drivers are the best I’ve experienced around cyclists.  They are courteous and friendly, and they share the road like nowhere else.

Karel with Devil at TdS

A Q&A with Karel Bergmann, Our Technical Adviser to Etixx-Quick-Step

Karel at 2016 Tour de France

Karel Bergmann, is 4iiii’s technical adviser to Ettix-Quick-Step and will be heading over to Spain this month to work with the team during the Vuelta Espana. We asked him a few questions before he left.

How long have you been working with EQS?

I started working with EQS last November.  That’s when the team was having their major training camps in southern Spain.  The training camps are the best time to get some face time with the riders and mechanics, which is really important when introducing a new product.

What is it like working with professional riders?

It’s a real privilege to be able to work with some of the best riders in the world.  While power data is really important to all of them, they all handle the training and racing a little differently so building relationships and getting to know all of them is important to being able to support them as well as possible.

What’s it like travelling in Europe for races?

Traveling in Europe is really interesting because you get so see so many different places, but it can be stressful too.  During my work with EQS there has been a fair amount of unrest in Europe and this can make things a bit more challenging than usual.

It’s been very interesting to experience each of the major cycling nations and their different flavours.  One of the biggest surprises was my visit to Andorra during the Tour de France – it went from a place that I barely knew about to one of my favorite spots in Europe.  In my food/coffee/riding/scenery/people matrix it scores very highly in all regards.

What is your favourite race to work with the riders on?

Each race is a little different from a support perspective.  My favorites are the Belgian Classics and Grand Tours.  At most of the big classics, the route crosses over itself many times, so it gives me the opportunity to see the race in person throughout the day, and to see how things are progressing.

This isn’t the case at Grand Tours, where I might see the race at the start, and sometimes at the finish, but rarely in between.  On the flip side, during a Grand Tour I get to experience the surroundings a little bit more, and since it’s the same 9 riders throughout the race, I get to know the guys a little better.

What are you looking forward to at the Vuelta?

As a cycling fan, I’ve always loved the Vuelta’s steep summit finishes and being there will give me a chance to see the pros race up these climbs, and hopefully experience some of them for myself.  I’ve always enjoyed the food in Spain, so I’m looking forward to that too, though I’m sure my W/Kg will suffer as a result.

Why would a cyclist ride with a power meter?

Power meters are really the only method we have at our disposal to objectively measure a rider’s output.  That’s not say that it’s the only tool, but it is the best tool there is for monitoring one’s progression as a rider.  They also work very well for pacing during time trials and long climbs.  I think that any performance-driven cyclist can benefit from having a power meter on their bike.

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Life on the Tour: Etixx – Quick-Step Classics Weekend, Ballet on Wheels

By Karel Bergmann

This past week in Belgium, I was able to experience the lead-up and the first two “Belgian Classics”.

As many of you are aware, Etixx – Quick-Step is a Belgian cycling team, and they’ve long eschewed chasing Tour de France victories for concentrating on stage wins and their fabled classics. The classics are one-day races that take place around Europe, but mostly in Belgium, Holland and Northern France. These races are characterized by long, gruelling parcours, often bad, unpredictable weather, and often cobblestones.

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Life on the Tour with Karel – January 26, 2016

Update #2 – Climbing up to Cumbre del Sol (Stage 9 of the Vuelta a Espana) 

Hola from Calpe, Spain:

As I established in my first post, either I’m just not really that smart or I’m just a sucker for punishment. When I found out that Cumbre del Sol was just a 20km warm-up ride from my hotel, I really didn’t have any other option but to get a taste of it myself and recon the climb.

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