Average Joe vs the Tour of Flanders: How much fitness has Cillian Kelly gained with help of Wahoo SYSTM

After following a seven-week Wahoo SYSTM training plan, Cillian finds out how much his FTP has increased ahead of the Tour of Flanders sportive

Clock16:20, Friday 29th March 2024

GCN’s resident stat man Cillian Kelly isn’t afraid of a challenge. His previous exploits have included conquering the 2022 L’Etape du Tour, along with its 4,700m climbing, and he recently decided it was time to take on his next challenge. Only, this one would be his toughest yet: the Tour of Flanders.

For those unfamiliar, the Tour of Flanders, or Ronde van Vlaanderen, is one of the hardest and most prestigious races in professional cycling. The distance alone, which stretches beyond 250km, would be tough enough, except packed within that distance are numerous stretches of cobblestones. Even more cruelly, they all point uphill.

Cillian of course isn’t a WorldTour pro and our calls for a wildcard entry into the pro race went unheard, but luckily there is a sportive the day before the race where amateurs like Cillian can briefly sample and emulate their idols. Mercifully for Cillian, it’s also much shorter.

That event is on Saturday and our Irishman has been working hard towards it with the help of a seven-week Wahoo SYSTM training plan. Those seven weeks are now over so, on the eve of the event, it was time to find out how much fitness Cillian has gained through his training.

You can watch Cillian’s final fitness test at the top of this page, or check out these three tips our stat man picked up during his training.

Don’t ignore off-the-bike exercises

Cyclists tend to ignore any form of exercise that doesn’t include pedalling their bike. This wasn’t possible for Cillian as the Wahoo SYSTM training platform includes a mix of cycling and off-the-bike exercises. These workouts cover yoga, strength, plus mental training too.

Many cyclists will baulk at the idea of completing these but, as Cillian discovered, they’re actually a great way to freshen up your training plan.

“It meant there was more variety on the menu each week,” Cillian said. “I think, because of that, it has been more interesting. It wasn’t just about smashing out watts”.

Take good care of your mental health

Even the best-laid training plans will hit roadblocks as everyday life gets in the way. Family holidays, work - like Cillian’s stat attacks which can be found on the GCN website - and, unfortunately, a couple of family grievances all disrupted Cillian’s training at some point.

While the latter is obviously mentally tough, other more minor hiccups during a training plan can sometimes be tough to deal with too. So much so that they can derail your progress and motivation.

That’s why it’s important to take time to consider your mental health - something that is included in the Wahoo SYSTM app. This is good for your mental health in general, but will also help to keep you motivated for the challenge ahead.

“This meant that the mental exercises were much more relevant,” Cillian reflected. “Stopping myself to ask why am I doing this and what’s it all really for.”

Cillian is a huge cycling fan and nerd, so the idea of racing on some of the most famous roads in cycling helped top up the motivation, but for other riders this motivation may be different.

Don’t worry if you miss training days

Missing workouts isn’t just frustrating, it will also reduce your physical gains. Don’t beat yourself up too much, though, as this is often out of our hands. As long as you complete as many sessions as possible, you’ll still see your fitness improve - unless you’re already in tip-top shape.

A great case in point, Cillian only managed to complete half of the sessions in his training plan, but that was enough to see improvements. We won’t provide any more spoilers here and to find out just how much he improved, watch the video at the top of this page.

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