That’s how it feels working with some of the most amazing athletes in the world. I guess we’ve become numbed to it since we try hard to be close to the riders at Tinkoff Saxo so that we can respond to their needs and to foster the kind of informal communication that leads to the best product feedback. We have lots of contact with them so it just feels normal.
That’s still how it feels when we get to go on a training ride these guys. Very special indeed. Usually we see the riders around races or at training camps and they have very specific training plans that they have to follow. And we’re not quite good enough to tag along. So when we do get a chance to join on a ride we jump at the chance even though that may mean a bit more suffering than one would normally inflict on one’s self.
Daniele Bennati interrupted his Tour de France preparation to come to Sportful’s home town of Feltre to receive the Franco Ballerini award. Franco was a close friend of Sportful and in fact spent the last 10 years of his pro career in Sportful supplied teams, as well as his 8 years as coach of the Italian national team. After his tragic and untimely passing the Trofeo Franco Ballerini was created to recognize the rider from the world championships who best expresses Franco’s values of teamwork, sacrifice, sportsmanship and dedication. Daniele was a deserving recipient of this award after his selfless work at Ponferrada even if the Azzurri weren’t able to finish it off. It was an emotional ceremony because Franco had taken a young Bennati under his wing, giving lots of advice and was even his best man at his wedding.
In the days leading up to our ride Daniele had done a big training block with rides of 4.5, 5.5 and 6.5 hours. He didn’t quite say he wanted a total recovery day, but was looking for 2.5 hours on rolling terrain. Done. Enter our Sportful staff ex pros Andrea Peron and Stefano Giraldi and we rolled out with over 35 years of pro cycling experience in our little group. With Sportful boss Alessio Cremonese and me to hang on as long as we could.
What does a pro do on an “easy” day? He rolls on the flats at 35 km/h, punches over all the little hills without hardly changing rhythm, and the longer hills are done on the little ring but at 310-330 watts and a VAM up around 1400. But the pace stays conversational as the pro and our ex pros use it as a chance to chat and catch up on all the gossip of the group. I think they call it an “easy” day because of the way they make it look so deceptively easy, and Bennati ALWAYS looks good on a bike.
Thanks Daniele, for a very special day.