Hugo Houle of Astana Pro Team joined us in our Montreal office to watch the 5th stage of Le Tour de France 2018 and discuss hot topics like the growing presence of disc brakes in the peloton, as well as his favorite training roads while he’s in Quebec. Comfortably installed in our workshop, Hugo was ready for our questions:
Q: What is the toughest race or stage you've ever done?
H: The toughest race I've ever done for sure is Paris-Roubaix. Not many riders want to go because it's so hard on the body due to the vibrations induced by the cobblestones. It’s so bad, even worse than Belgium’s Tour of Flanders I would say. The cobbles challenge everything, your body, your mind...! Paris-Roubaix is the toughest one for sure.
Q: The popularity of Disc brakes grows fast amongst the peloton. What do you think about them? Do you embrace this technology change?
H: Disc brakes are a pretty hot topic now at Le Tour de France. I think in the future, we're only going to ride on disc brakes, it's only a matter of time before everyone converts. Companies are pushing innovations this way, the UCI just authorized disc brakes in races for next season...If you ask me, I think the majority of teams will ride bikes with disc brakes next season. That's my feeling, maybe I'm wrong but, that's what I think. For sure, disc brakes are the future. The big advantage of disc brakes on bikes like the Gallium Pro Disc or the 2019 Nitrogen Disc is the brake power when it's raining. In Europe, when you're going down a big descent at full speed, it's quite useful and a lot better. The brakes are more consistent, the braking power is more reliable. Now it's true every team must adjust how they will handle punctures. The mechanic trucks will need to change the adapter with thru axles, so yes, a necessary adjustment will be required for the team but that's where we are going. In a few years, we’ll probably will look at a bike with regular brakes and ask: what is this?
Q: What does your usual training week look like?
H: My usual training week is around 22 to 29 hours, but it really depends on what I'm doing. In a regular week we'll do on an average 3 interval trainings. We then add more specific workouts and endurance trainings to that. Basically, a regular training ride average speed will fluctuate around 32 km/h with a power output of 221 watts. If we go full gas, we can achieve close to 300 watts for 5 hours but that would be a brutal training day. Thanks to my coach for those. (Laughter) Over a year I think I'll have around 900 hours of training in the books, so it's about 85 hours per month.
Q: What time do you go to sleep and what time do you wake up for training?
H: I go to sleep at around 11:00 pm. When I'm in Europe, we finish races late. I wake up at around 8:00 am. With approximately 9h of sleep, I'm good!
Q: Where do you train while you’re in Quebec and what do you do?
H: When I’m back home, I like to train in the central region of Quebec as I live in Drummondville. My favorite routes are towards the Eastern Townships: many roads near Richmond, the Classic of the Apalachees - for those who know it, in Danville, there are more elevations and climbs of 5 to 10 minutes. – That’s where I go to work intervals and make myself suffer! 😉 It's a quiet road too. I don't get bothered too much by cars - I don't bother them either - so it's the place I prefer for the most difficult rides but there are really interesting routes around Drummondville. It's easy to train out there!
At Astana Pro Team, for training, we use an online platform -Training Peak-. My coach drops my prescribed workout every day with the intervals to complete. We are all equipped with Garmin 1030 and with that, our speed, power and heart rate as well as the course achieved and pit stops are all monitored! We are watched, there really is no cheating! Then, when I'm back home, it's automatically transferred to the platform through Garmin Connect and my trainer can see what I've done, if I've followed the training and he can analyze my performance. My coach can also call me on Skype if needed to follow up, no matter where we are in the world. A few years ago, you could say you rode 200 km without really riding them but today, you'd have to pay an accomplice to build fake Garmin files...It's complicated! There are no easy options out so…I’m back on the bike (Laughter) 😉
For the full Q&A with Hugo, visit our Instagram TV Channel.
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