Mark Cavendish is laying the foundations for a successful 2024 season at altitude in Colombia, with his coach Vasilis Anastopoulos convinced training in thin air is the best way for the Manxman to prepare for early-season his sprinting goals of his final season in the sport.
Cavendish and several other teammates, including leadout men Michael Mørkøv and Cees Bol, are currently at a two-week altitude training camp in the city of Rionegro, Colombia, situated at 2,150 metres above sea level in the Andes. They will then ride the Tour Colombia stage race between February 6-11.
Astana Qazaqstan head coach Vasilis Anastopoulos told Italian website BiciPro, that so far this winter, Cavendish has focus mainly on his aerobic development, in practice meaning plenty of long, low-intensity training rides.
“There are lots of different ways to tackle altitude training,” Anastopoulos said, “but you have to be careful about what you do. Cavendish is currently doing lots of hours in the saddle and only short sessions of more intensive work. For now, he seems to be responding well.”
According to BiciPro, Cavendish’s early season race programme will include Tour Colombia, then the UAE Tour (Feb 19-25) and Tirreno-Adriatico (Mar 4-10).
Anastopoulos said that the altitude camp and Colombian stage race were being treated as a two-in-one unit of training and racing work.
“The main reason why Mark is doing the altitude training camp in Colombia is because he wants to improve his aerobic capacity,” Anastopoulos explained to BiciPro.
“In my opinion even a Classics specialist should do at least one altitude training camp. And if that is not possible, then one at sea level, but I believe that the benefits of altitude training are greater. That is why we’ll go back to altitude again in May, in Sierra Nevada [Spain].”
In December Cavendish discussed his altitude training in the past and why he wanted to do it again, saying “There’s been a handful of times when it’s been controlled and I’ve gone very well off it.”
🇨🇴 PHOTO: Training CampDiscovering the roads around Medellin…#AstanaQazaqstanTeam pic.twitter.com/O2478MWMzhJanuary 18, 2024