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A Chat with Project 1T4i riders Marcel Kittel, Tom Veelers and Tom Stamsnijder

  • By Mark Johnson
  • Published Dec. 16, 2011
  • Updated Jan. 5, 2012 at 1:39 AM EDT

2011 Tour of Qatar prologue, Tom Veelers was third at 5 seconds (file). Photo: Graham Watson | grahamwatson.com

While Kittel spends time in the wind tunnel, his 2012 teammates Tom Veelers and Tom Stamsnijder chill out in the team’s modest hotel near San Diego’s Mission Bay. The two Dutch riders spent four hours riding up the coast in the morning, and while they enjoyed the ocean views, they would have preferred a more open Pacific Coast Highway. “Way too many traffic lights!” Veelers, 27, says with a smile. That said, they are loving the San Diego weather, which is about 30 degrees warmer than back in Holland. They also look forward to getting out to some of San Diego’s stoplight-free rural backcountry roads once their wind tunnel duties are done. “We are going to get into the mountains and get some altitude in our legs,” Veelers says.

The riders are always thinking ahead to how current training affects their future schedule. By putting big miles in the bank during their weeks in San Diego, Stamsnijder says they can return to Holland for Christmas and enjoy life without stressing over missing miles: “We don’t have to think about it for Christmas and New Year; we can just stay around with the family.” After the holiday break, the riders head to Alicante for another camp at a place the team maintains there. In addition to the formal training camp, “You can go whenever you want,” Veelers says of the team’s Spanish house. “It is always there. The living there is for free.”

Veelers’ soft-spoken approachability contrasts with his brick-hard physique, a sturdiness that delivered him victory at the 2006 U23 Paris-Roubaix. While Veelers rode for Skil-Shimano in 2011, Stamsnijder is moving to 1T4i from Leopard Trek. Since both riders rode together as juniors on the Rabobank development team, Project 1T4i is a reunion.

At 26 Stamsnijder is already a veteran, having won the U17 Dutch national time trial championship in 2000 and taking the U19 Tour of Flanders in 2002. The 6’ 3” pro says his position was already pretty well dialed before this, his first time in a wind tunnel, but says he learned that by opening his arm position he could generate more power. “I can use more my back and my hips for support. That’s a plus for me. It’s nice for me that so early in the season you can get already the ideal position on your time trial bike so you don’t have to fiddle around half way through the season.”

Along with about 25 hours a week on the bike, Stamsnijder works out two times weekly with a personal trainer. “He just drills me for one-and-a-half hours until I’m dead,” he said.  After tests in November showed that Stamsnijder needed to work on his back and abdominal muscles, he enlisted the trainer to help him shore up his core strength. “It’s something you just need to be doing.”

He says he can feel the difference on the bike. “Especially with the power efforts we did today, you are more stable on the bike.” He also noticed a change while racing early-winter cyclocross. “When you take a corner it’s just so much easier; you are just more stable on the bike.” To help with flexibility and agility, team doctors also recommended that Stamsnijder start doing yoga to supplement his existing post-ride stretching regime. “After dinner or before I go to sleep I take half an hour or 15 minutes to stretch everything out.”

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