Thomas Schäfer winning the 2015 German National Paracycling Championship.
It is with great excitement and pride that I can report Thomas Schäfer won the German National Paracycling Championship this past weekend. Winning this race was an important step in qualifying Thomas for the 2016 Paralympics in Rio. Huge congrats to Thomas on an outstanding performance!
Pure cycling is a different sport than triathlon. It is a much more intense sport than triathlon, with incredible intense surges, breakaways and sprinting decisions. Pure cyclists also have much more racing days than triathletes. For an athlete to perform well in road racing, different physiological adaptions are required than in pure triathlon racing. Therefore Thomas’ training is very different to what our professional triathletes do on the bike. However, part of my success with Thomas and other athletes has been using certain sessions which work well for triathletes to improve Thomas’ cycling and also the other way round, implementing pure cycling sessions into the training regimen for triathletes. There is some overlap and this way I find athletes get the best experience from both worlds.
Another aspect which distinguishes road racing from (long distance) triathlon is the fight man against man, body contact with other riders in a fast moving peloton. Road cyclists have to be very alert and aware of race course specifics and know their competitors well. They constantly have to make tactical decisions, react quickly and without compromise. In his Championship race Thomas’ strategy was to try to breakaway early. So he hit the gas very hard from the beginning. But his main competitors didn’t allow him to break away. They worked together and always managed to catch him again. Therefore Thomas changed his strategy and decided to force his luck at the sprint finish. He didn’t waste any more power, stayed within the leading group, looked for the right wheel when they hit the last few hundred meters, accelerated in the right moment and with a huge push could carry enough momentum to win the race with more than a bike length lead.
In addition to Thomas’ daily training, as his coach I take responsibility for his bike position and biomechanical setup. Having a dysplasia of his lower left leg Thomas has to wear a prosthesis. When we started our cooperation, we spent lots of time optimising Thomas’ position on both his road an TT bike within UCI regulations. During that process it was decided that Thomas’ prosthesis wasn’t working as well as it could have been for cycling. So according to our biomechanic input and fitting experience a new prosthesis was developed. Amongst other things the new carbon prosthesis now is shorter in length and has a very different cleat placement, improving overall leverage and peddling efficiency as well as position on the bike.
Winners are made, not born! We are very happy it worked out for Thomas so well at this important race and wish him all the best on his road to qualify for the 2016 Paralympics in Rio!
Coach Jo Spindler not only trains age group and professional triathletes, but has specialised in coaching cyclists and runners also.