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Can track cycling improve triathlon performance?


Earlier this year I went to the velodrome in Milton, Ontario with Louis Garneau to test my aero position on my triathlon bike. I was surprised to see so many people of different ages training on the track. There were many pelotons of different levels passing each other on the track. It was similar to what you’d find at a pool, with the slow/medium/fast lanes during lap swim.

I realized what a great opportunity it is for cyclists and triathletes to train on a track during all winter, instead of just doing workouts on a trainer in a dark, smelly and sweaty pain cave.

I’ve learned from speaking with many pros that that track cycling is becoming more and more popular in their overall training. They use varied workouts on the track, from speed and intensity workouts to long tempos at full distance race pace.

I decided to interview some of Canada’s best ITU triathletes to learn more about their experience in track cycling for triathlon training.

Xavier Grenier Talavera

“I think it helped me technically, especially for holding a straight line and for managing the distance from the front guys’ wheel without using brakes. I trained at the velodrome with a group about three times a week, with shorter but intense efforts comprising 6, 12, 40, 1 minute, 4 minute and 7 minutes.

I’d actually love to do it more often, we just have a lack of tracks in Montreal (where I’m from). If a track is available at one of our training locations, we’ll definitely use it though.”

Photo courtesy of Jamie Turner

Sarah-Anne Brault

“As part of my training with the Wollongong Wizards, we would do about two sessions a week on the track. It took a few weeks last year to get the track bikes set up and for us to learn the etiquette and rules of riding around a small circle with no gears or breaks. But now that the entire group is comfortable, it allows us to work on our speed and build some tools that wouldn’t be possible on regular road bikes.

Personally, I’m getting more comfortable on the track bike. It forces you to be able to produce power at different cadences, since you can’t adjust the gears to get the perfect cadence.

We tried to replicate our road bike setup as closely as possible on our track bike. It might not be ideal for crazy sprints or anything, but it lessens the risk of injury, and makes things a little simpler. We’re not planning on racing on the track ever, but build skills. We’re pretty lucky that Jamie had done quite a bit of work on the track before so he knows how to coach it, and adapt it to triathlon training.”

Photo courtesy of Jamie Turner

Tyler Mislawchuck

“We use the track at specific points in the year. Leading into Abu Dhabi I was on the track twice a week which allowed me to add some speed in the legs before the first race of the year. Every session is unique and serves a very specific end goal. The track is a place where tactics and technical ability make a huge difference. I ride in a very similar position to how I ride on my road bike to allow specific muscle adaptation.”

Alexis Lepage

“I train twice a week on the track and we do quality sessions and specific for triathlon. To be a good runner in triathlon, you need to become a really good cyclist so that you don’t tax your legs too much during the bike.

Training on a cycling track allows us to train our max power, our technical abilities, our cadence and strategies. I believe it is the best way to improve on the bike.”