The Australian Cycling Team has arrived in Italy ahead of the 2018 UCI Para Road World Championships to be held from 2-5 August.
The team is together for the first time since May’s opening round of the Para Road World Cup in Belgium where the team grabbed 12 medals, including gold to Carol Cooke, Darren Hicks, Stuart Tripp, Meg Lemon and Kyle Bridgwood. Carol Cooke added to the tally gold and silver at the second round in the Netherlands.
Following the World Cup where he grabbed bronze, dual road world champion Alistair Donohoe opted to spend his final few weeks of preparation in his bedroom. But while it might sound like he was skipping training to catch up on his TV shows, it was all in the name of sport performance.
“For the past three weeks, I’ve had the altitude tent set up in my bedroom,” explained Donohoe, 23, “It’s actually super boring as I had to lock myself in my room for around 14 hours a day (including sleep) and pretend like I was the bubble boy. I became good friends with Netflix!
“I did it not because I’m going to go racing at altitude, but for the physiological benefits of increasing (or trying to) the number of red blood cells in my body.
“The hardest part is the added fatigue effects it has on your body and trying to train at 100% while in the tent can be pretty difficult, you have a few more off days than usual, and your sleep/recovery isn't quite as good, so it's a bit of a balancing act.”
Donohoe’s balancing act has not been confined to the four walls of a hyperbaric chamber, with his season interspersed with Australian team commitments including the Track World Championships, and his debut season with Conti team Mobius BridgeLane.
“The new team Mobius BridgeLane has been awesome so far, a great group of guys and an incredible support network. I'm really enjoying my time with them and every race we enter,” said Donohoe, who raced his debut season in the USA just after winning silver at the UCI Track World Championships in Rio.
“Racing in the USA at the beginning of the year was a great experience too, having raced in Europe and Asia it was nice to get a taste of what the US had to offer, and it was some pretty high-class racing.
“It was tough coming straight off Track World Championships and going into that racing, but it definitely helped my bronze medal performance at the Belgium World Cup in May.”
The 2014 and 2015 road world champion is chasing rainbows next week in Italy and will line up in the road race and time trial from August 2.
“Of course, the goal is to bring home some stripes,” he said. “But it is always hard to know how you're feeling without having any preparation races!
“I've been doing a lot of time trial training the past few weeks and should have faith in the numbers I’m seeing and that they indicate I’m moving pretty well.
“The road race is, of course, my bread and butter event, and I would love more than anything to take that one out and stand on the top step, so we'll see how that goes!”
So after weeks in the bubble, and 20+ hours on the plane, what will Donohoe’s first move be when he arrives in team camp?
“My first few days will mostly involve recovering from the jet lag as fast as possible and settling into the new time zone, then will be tapering into the racing.
“I'll also be trying to acclimatise to the hot weather over there, so I will be utilising a sauna for the first few days to do heat acclimatisation sessions.”
2018 Australian Cycling Team - UCI Para Road World Championships