Training from Truckee to the Tour de France
Physical therapist Darcy Norman of Truckee is packing his bags for a trip of a lifetime ” training the T-Mobile pro cycling team for this summer’s Tour de France.
As the director of sports performance at Tahoe Forest Center for Health and Sports Performance, Norman trains athletes of all ability levels ” from elite professionals to weekend warriors.
Norman worked as a physical therapist in Arizona at a world-class sports training company, Athletes Performance, before moving his family to Truckee more than a year ago.
The avid athlete was invited to train with the German-based bicycle racing team in early January in Spain and is headed back to Europe to help the team’s riders gear up for the Tour de France.
SS: How was your trip to Spain in January?
Norman: It was called Club Cala Serena in Mallorca, Spain. We would do mornings and have a training session with staff. We’d have movement preparation and then they’d go on their assignment rides. We’d split them into two groups based on their testing. Each athlete went through functional movement, screening various levels of mobility and stability, and we’d compare their specific needs with their metabolic testing. We’d have a recovery and regeneration session, and then break for dinner.
SS: What did the T-Mobile team think of your training methods?
Norman: The North American riders and the Aussies and the Kiwis (New Zealanders) had the most experience. I think they’d been most exposed to this kind of method. The Germans were half and half, and the Danish were a little tougher to convince. We were riding every day with no days off. We learned a lot about metabolic testing and training philosophies, bike fitting and that sort of thing. You learn just by being there. Everyone was super nice and super friendly. It was a learning experience on how much riders can tolerate. Cycling is a concentric sport ” not a lot of loading. We’d do 20 lunges and they’d be sore the next day.
SS: Did you encounter any language barriers?
Norman: The official language of the team was English. There was some, but for the most part it was good. There was always someone who spoke three or four languages.
SS: Were you star-struck by any of the riders?
Norman: That’s a good question. I think I was just naive enough. I knew some of the names but I wasn’t (star-struck) too much. All of them were unbelievably nice guys. It was cool to learn the history of cycling from them. It’s not like they’re staying at super posh hotels … most were rooms you could barely open your suitcase in. You see the Tour de France ” the technology ” and that’s what people in the States see. They think there’s only three races a year, but these guys race a ton.
SS: What are your thoughts on doping, including a few of the T-Mobile team members?
Norman: There was a press conference yesterday and that’s when they all admitted to using the drugs. I think it’s the equivalent of a criminal who used to rob houses, and who now is giving back to the community. I think that’s what they’re trying to sort out. I think it’s a good thing because people can clear their conscience of it. The T-Mobile’s stance of anti-drug gives people a place to go. At what point do you let the past dictate the future, if they’re now making the commitment? It’s a learning experience and so you make an effort to change it. It’s definitely not a front. They have nothing to gain from admitting they’ve done the drugs. I think it’s a good thing they’re keeping them. I can speak from honest experience they are truly passionate about the sport.
Core training has never been practiced in cycling before. That’s how I know they’re honest. They had us there and they’re asking us back. The (riders have) all had good feedback on what we’ve been working on.
SS: Why does doping seem to circle the cycling world?
Norman: The hardest part is actually winning a grand tour. Riders say they can’t win a grand tour without some kind of supplement. It’s just the pressure of winning. You weren’t told to take them, but people get desperate to want to continue and people tend to look the other way.
SS: Have you started packing for your 10-day trip to help train for the Tour de France?
Norman: I’m going to Toulouse, France. We’re going to be putting energy on recovery and regeneration with new technology we can’t really disclose. Regeneration is what they do to restore their bodies after a race and kind of prepare them for the next day.
SS: Any predictions on who is going to take the Tour de France title this year?
Norman: Mike Rogers and Patrick Sinkewitz are the two main T-Mobile guys. Mike really seems to take a similar approach to Lance ” building up for the tour, if that’s any indication.
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