In less than a week’s time, the Amgen Tour of California will depart from Long Beach for seven stages that will have many of the world’s top cyclists tackle some of the state’s most challenging terrain. As the largest and most prestigious cycling event in the US, it’s not surprising that most of the riders and teams plan their season around achieving peak form during the race. One of those riders is Rob Britton from Rally Cycling who last year helped the team take two stage wins and far exceed expectations. This year, Britton is off to a strong start after winning the Tour of the Gila last month and is proving himself to be one of the best North American stage racers. We asked him about what to expect next week when Rally Cycling goes head to head with the likes of Team Sky, BMC, and other top European-based teams.
After a highly-successful Tour of California for the team last year, is there an extra level of pressure on the riders leading up to the race?
I don’t think so, the team management is good about not pushing expectations. With that said, the guys have personal expectations and want to achieve some lofty things. California is our big goal and we’ve always produced strong results there and we expect everyone to execute the plan. The odds of us winning two stages again is pretty slim, but we know we’re capable of it.
What has your preparation been like for the final weeks leading up to the ToC?
The team just came off a training camp in Oxnard, which is close to the start in Long Beach.
We did the same thing last year and just copied and pasted it this year since it worked out so well. My training was two days on, followed by one-day recovery, then repeat. The training days were full gas with rides being 5.5 to 6.5 hours each day with between 8,000-12,000 feet of climbing. I probably pushed it more than most of the other riders since I feel better after doing a lot of work. The recovery day would just be a one-hour coffee ride.
What’s your recovery routine like after such massive training days?
It starts before the ride, and that’s using PR Lotion, which is then repeated post-training.
I’ve been full gas, zero compromises for the past seven weeks where everything is about recovery when I’m not on the bike. As soon as I finish a ride, I have a recovery drink, shower, then hit PR Lotion again, which helps take the sting out of the legs and helps them bounce back. After that, I’ll refuel with a big dose of carbohydrates, then just chill until it’s time to eat again. It’s like Groundhog Day every day–ride, eat, massage, sleep.
Do you have a personal goal going into the race?
I’ll go back to a general classification role, that’s what I’m classically good at. I’m comfortable with that role, even if you have to back it up day in and day out. There will be some true world class riders so it will add legitimacy to any result I can achieve. I think I’m in better form than I’ve ever been in for the race.
Is there a specific stage you think will cause a real reckoning in the race?
Stage 6 to South Lake Tahoe is going to be brutally hard, it’s the longest stage of the tour and has legitimate climbs throughout the day. We’ll be on the pedals and burning a crazy amount of energy, plus you have altitude. There’s a 30-minute climb at about hour five that goes up to 7,500 feet in altitude, we’ll still finish with a kicker climb to the line. If you have a bad day on that stage it’s all over.