How would an Olympian structure a 4 year cycle?

If you looked at the way a cyclist whose main goal was the Olympics, structured their training over the four year cycle, how would the years differ?
Obviously there would still be annual world championships etc to persue, but would there be an undercurrent of long term development running beneath everything?

This feels like the sort of question that Stephen Seiler targets exceptionally well with his research on Intervals, Thresholds, and Long Slow Distance: the Role of Intensity and Duration in Endurance Training.

The 2016 road race was 240 kilometers, making for a long day at 40km/h. For that, one needs to keep road racing skills sharp, and one needs to have a huge engine for pushing hard and long.

If one were only training for the Olympics, I can imagine it being akin to the specialization that Lance took back in the day, focusing on one race — or how Team Sky / Ineos has done it. Very long volume builds to absolutely maximize any structural adaptations possible in the athlete, with more and more peaky races getting closer to the event.

Plan builder obviously.


LOLOLOLOLOL amazing. Comment of the week

No road cyclist structures their training on an Olympic cycle. The Olympic road race involves too much luck, and isn’t important enough on the calendar compared to the classics and the Grand Tours, to plan 4 years around it.

The guys who plan a whole 4 years around the Olympics are the ones in sports like rowing or track cycling where the Olympics is the absolute pinnacle and they barely get any attention the rest of the time.

Even in things like track or the marathon, runners approach similar to cyclists in general where continually building over time will benefit you. A track runner or marathoner will likely start picking races around the Olympic year either in the year itself or maybe 18 months out (more so for marathons where most only race 2 per year). Elite runners will still race like normal during those 4 years, just shifting the last 12-18 months more around a specific build into Olympic Trials & possibly the actual Games.

A series of builds and tapers, at least a couple per year. And, you have to make the team to get to go so really the selection process is the focus for all but a very small handful of athletes who can “train through” their trials or selection races/events (e.g. in swimming, its quite possible to be the 3rd fastest in the world in an event and not make the US team). In many sports the selection process means peaking up to a year in advance.

I posted this a while back in another thread and its a good general discussion of a multi year process

Dean Golich describes attempting to crack his athletes during year 3 of the quadrennial cycle, so that he knew what not to do during year 4.

Thank you for posting this–I clicked on this thread hoping this reply was here!

I completely agree with that most riders wouldn’t target the Olympic RR. They are coming out of the TDF or other races and it’s part of their race calendar not necessarily even peaking for it. Certainly the Australian Cycling team I would say aren’t doing a 4 year plan for it. But whoever the course suits and then pick those riders, hopefully not fully burnt from the TDF and hope for the best.

The track teams however are. The Aus Track team didnt even send their A squad to the Worlds. (which BTW I don’t get).

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Any olympic athlete structures training to the national evenrs and qualification schedule.